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Words of Wisdom

I really enjoyed the different videos of musical theater performances that we watched in class. They all really made me think a lot about my own life and the status of African Americans in todays society. I have heard many times throughout my life that we are living in a post racial society. When closely examining today’s society, though, I don’t believe that at all. Racism is just as prevalent as it was during the Civil Rights movement. I’m not saying that the Civil Rights movement did nothing to help African American’s because I believe that the Civil Rights Movement was a monumental event that forever changed how African Americans were treated in todays society. That being said, the Civil Rights movement allowed African Americans to be treated more equally in the eyes of the law. This is not the same thing as being seen as equal by white people in society. And as we all know there are still many loopholes and rules held by our government that don’t allow black people to have the same opportunities as whites. For example, the prison system, which is another way for whites to keep black people (men in particular) down and not allow them to try to better their lives. The fact that 58% of the people incarcerated are black and latino men when they only make up a quarter of the overall population is staggering. Also, the school system is another way that society keeps people of color down and doesn’t allow them to better their lives. Education is the number one way to make sure that you have a good life because you can get a degree and get a good job. But because of redlining which was the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas, blacks and other minorities have ended up living in the less desirable neighborhoods. Schooling is based on taxes and so when the people are already poor, they can in now way afford more teachers, or the best teachers, or books or supplies for their children’s education. These are just two systems of oppression that have been built into todays society but there are many more. The video that really stuck with me was Jay Z’s Ode to OJ in which Jay Z reminds us that no matter how successful you are, you will always be judged by the color of your skin. The stereotypes about black people and other people of color have not changed in the minds of most white people and this is something that is difficult to change. When it comes to my life, I have decided to lead by example. For most of my life, I have grown up around all white people and have been told that I am “white”. When I am told this, I now try to respond by saying, “No, I am black and not all black people are the same. I can talk the way I do and still be black and I can be myself and act myself and still be black. Being black does not define me. I define being black. I am not the exception to what it means to be black.” Black and white are the divisions of race which is a social construct that has plagued our society for a long time. In my mind, we should change the definition of race to be more about culture and not about these stereotypes which typecast African Americans as not the people we truly are.

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