Civil Rights Errors
The Civil Rights Movement is one that I think every American is aware of, so there’s no need for me to recount what’s been said a thousand times. What I would like to do instead of just restating the chronology is to give an analysis and make a suggestion for future action. There were two fatal flaws with the Civil Rights Movement, in my opinion. The first was a misunderstanding or lack of foresight about how to bring about long-term change for Blacks in America and the second was the rise of the Black middle class.
The Civil Rights Movement sought to abolish segregation and garner legal rights that (they hoped) would demonstrate that they were equal to White people and that they were given the same opportunities as White people. The problem with this is one that Stokely Carmichael once stated very clearly in 1967 in his critique of the nonviolent movement:
“In order for nonviolence to work your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” At that point in time, legislation was not the best path to start making a change. At that point in time, the best way to make a change was to garner attention from the world and have America stand – while professing to be a place of refuge and opportunity, the land of the free and home of the brave – and be seen by the world as the tyrant it was and be ashamed enough to change.
The flaw was that those activists equated changing legislation with changing perspective. The two are not directly related. I believe this is why the children of the civil rights era were under the impression that because amendments had been made to the constitution, America had also changed its view of Black people. This proved not to be true.
We are familiar with horror stories of Black Flight. As well-to-do Blacks moved into White spaces and were still met with opposition and discrimination. This afforded racism the opportunity to mutate into a systematic virus that discreetly blocked equality.
Now we live in a time that pretends to have solved the problem of race in America. I submit that now is not the time to pretend. Now is not the time to avoid or try to sidestep the issue just because we now have rights. Those rights mean nothing if they are violated, twisted, and ignored. Now is the time to address the flaws of the civil rights era just as we celebrate its accomplishments. The battle for civil rights was won; the war against racism continues.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man