Think About It: Changing HISTORY is Changing MINDS
By Monique Washington
It’s an old-saying that “Time heals all wounds.” Forty years ago our Country was wounded when we lost a Civil Rights activist and Iconic Leader; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fast forward four decades; January 19, 2009 – the Inauguration of our countries first African-American President of the United States: President Barack Obama.
Has time healed the wound of loosing King Jr.? Or has Obama being in office helped our nations sorrow? Does this change in history result to Americans changing their mind set when it comes to race and prejudice? Are we as a nation headed in the direction of total equality?
The circumstances the African-American race faced in History were horrific. So much that many prefer not to reflect by focusing on the past. The unthinkable was once the inevitable. I believe it’s important to know your history, granted the reflection may be disturbing. At the end of the tunnel there’s light and we are in the light in 2010! We are free from oppression by white Americans.
Segregation at one time was the norm: separate water fountains, restaurants, neighborhoods and schools. Now in the 21st Century we are integrated, thanks to the Civil Rights Movement. And for countless souls that died prematurely, standing up for our rights.
Integration was not meant to stop racism however it has made an astonishing impact on the perception Americans and people worldwide has about race. Racism unfortunately will always exist, as long as people exist. However there is a choice and when a majority of Americans voted for an African-American President in 2009; it was evident that change had arrived.
African-Americans have been through a world-wind of adversity over the past four centuries. We’ve gone through Slavery to the White House. The journey has taken us from being promised 40 acres and a mule in 1865 (around 10,000 freed slaves were settled on 400,000 acres) to The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972 an experiment conducted on 399 African-American men in Alabama). On May 16, 1997 our nation received an apology from President Clinton for the than, eight remaining survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Clinton said, “The United States government did something that was wrong – deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens….clearly racist.”
We as a people (African-American’s) continue to strive and overcome the struggle. With our multicultural race; what you see is not always who we are. If everyone in the African-American race was required to have a genealogy test ran; it would shock us individually to discover the trace of ancestry our bloodlines carries from unknown generations for the past 400 years. You may see an African-American man, woman, boy or girl; each may have a different complexion on their exterior but their image does not define who they are.
Think about it; how many people have you met over your lifetime that were bi-racial, but initially you assumed they were African-American through and through based on what they looked like? These individuals color of their skin was a misconception of his/her race.
Consider our 44th President – Barack Obama. Does he look bi-racial to you? You may have figured he noticeably carried the traits of some other race, but would you had known his mother was Caucasian? Not that it matters what race Obama is; I only want you to think about our perception of one another and the influence appearance has on our psyche.
Society has focused a lot on prominent people in the African-American and Caucasian Race (Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates) leaving out a race of its own – bi-racial/multiracial individuals. There’s several prominent bi-racial people throughout history who have and are impacting society. The recent obvious multiracial prominent figure is President Obama. There are other multiracial prominent individuals in America’s history. Robert Robinson Taylor, his father Henry Taylor a white man and his mother was a black women. Robert was the first black student to enroll and attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1888.
In the media there are famous multiracial celebrities like Halle Berry, Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Rosario Dawson and many others that influence our nation in one way or another. Multiracial identity is new for Americans. The multiracial American population is estimated to compromise anywhere between four and six percent of the total population.
In the year 2000 everything changed regarding a multiracial classification, with the passing of Statistical Directive 15. It provided a growing population of multiracial Americans with the option of selecting one or more racial [and ethnic] designations. No longer were multiracial individuals limited to checking one box when required to identify themselves.
My friend since high school, Dr. Myiesha Taylor Schlitz, MD and her husband Robert Schlitz consider their family multiracial. Their two children are bi-racial and their adopted daughter is from Ethiopia. The family of five discuss race up front and matter-of-factly. Dr. Taylor-Schlitz is African-American and Robert is Caucasian. They raise their children to love who they are and not limit themselves.
If we take a moment and forwarded History forty more years, do you think it may be possible that race will no longer be an issue and instead as King Jr. wanted people to be judged by the content of their character.
Think about it; this is the future of America. And our President symbolizes what our country will look like in the years to come.