We may not spend too much time together. I’ve been around more than seven decades already, but those 70 plus years have taught me some things I want to leave with you.
The people in your life, Future, will look and act a little different than what you know from my generation and previous generations. The people in your life will be able to slip in and out of any circumstance either unnoticed or un-recognized. They are smart, they are digital and in many cases, they are race-less.
They are mixed race and they are black and no one knows it. Either way, they’re ready and if you are living in a bubble, unable to digest what is happening today, then the next stop is yours. Get off the bus because the routes have changed and you won’t be able to stand the ride.
First, I want to tell Future that I am so happy the young people of today experienced President Trump, the Pandemic and the way racism is being used today. They're not taking it. We experienced marches, rallies, protests and riots mostly from police more than 50 years ago, but our hands were tied. We couldn’t fight the system of white men in Washington, white men on Wall Street and white men in the media. They controlled the content, angle and visual of what we saw and learned. Of course they helped each other. Our news was no news. What happened to us stayed with us. I am over the moon watching the young people walk, ride, stand and kneel in silence and solidarity with what they know has been America’s biggest crime. Racism.
I also want to remind Future to tell young people as they age that they have the ability, endurance, intelligence and confidence to take what our generations started and carry it over the finish line. I say our generations because our parents and grandparents tried. They did their best to make love and education part of the family. Many in my generation have been disappointed most of our lives because the “struggles” in the fifties and sixties only went so far. We saw it as superficial. Two or three more of us started getting accepted at previously forbidden schools each year. Much of the acceptance was and still is based on sports. In terms of employment, companies began to hire one Black person in order to fill a newly legal employment requirement. In 1969, author Sam Greenlee appropriately published The Spook Who Sat By The Door In 1973, Greenlee and veteran African American actor, Ivan Dixon produced the film version.
The arts were another area where the door was open just enough for us to see inside. America has had many internationally recognized African American artists, but less than that have been displayed prominently in galleries and fine buildings. Enter: museums and galleries to showcase African American artistic talent. It was the same for performances. Many white people wore pounds of makeup in order to play the part of either Black, Spanish or Indian people on the screen. The ingrained racism has been THE way of life for us, but life is beginning to look a lot different if the protesters keep it up.
We felt the progress from the 1960s was superficial because African Americans still make less than others on the job doing the same job. As a teenager, my parents had to pretend someone else bought the house they bought so the sale wouldn’t be protested by racist neighbors. Twice it worked. Twice neighbors were mad. We always asked ourselves within the family if life would ever get easier. We respect our parents for being so bold and we paid attention. We have lived each 24 hour period living in both white world and our world. Whatever position in the work world, we saw other people, we heard them and we listened. Then we came home and we shared experiences, ultimately passing them onto the people you see today in the streets of every city. They are part of the silver lining.
Many people had to die needlessly at the hands of mentally ill white people. All white people are not mentally ill, but those who hate and perpetuate hate are ill. We unfortunately have had to be exposed to it while trying to deal with it and help our children get through it. In the process, we lost many young people to the system and gun violence.
They learned the violence from ill white people who in turn want to punish them for being violent or accuse them of being violent.To see the young people today who are determined to keep it up until justice is served is the silver lining.
I am no longer unhappy about you, Future. I realize how important we were as the pioneers of what's to come. I am glad we struggled through the bones we were thrown. It meant today’s young people and their children are angry enough to take it to the wall. They know how their parents and parent’s peers were treated and they see how people are being treated today. I no longer feel helpless, like we got nowhere. As a generation, we set the stage for this. Make sure you treat them right, Future.
Speaking of walls, the newly built wall around the White House is the single best thing the administration could have done for you Future. You will inherit young people who saw that and it will, no doubt, make your life easier.
You will inherit angry, educated people who were blinded by teargas for no reason. Imagine being in your twenties and seeing a wall and military with shields outside the White House. Imagine what they will teach their children. I hope you are ready for the second Silver Lining Generation. They are the best bet for making sure this
never happens again.