Jm Crow is not dead. He's just gone underground. Sure, Civil Rights made separate water fountains illegal. But that didn't stop new laws that say one thing and mean another if you’re black. Civil Rights did not prevent Stop and Frisk. Civil Rights did not prevent a racially loaded set of laws from putting more black men in the prison system than were enslaved in 1850. And despite enormous gains by the black middle class, Civil Rights has not changed the outcome of the famous black doll/white doll test that led the Supreme Court to overturn separate-but-equal in 1954. An alarming number of black kids--71% in the 2005 Kiri Davis documentary, A Girl Like Me, still choose the white doll over the black ones.
That old bird just found new ways to do his thing. But before he went into hiding, Jim Crow did something else - he inflicted a wound on the black psyche that President Obama never had to deal with. His father came from Africa but was never a slave. Never had to live through separate-but-equal. Never grew up hearing, “If you're white, alright. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back.”
Jim Crow was a way to keep blacks in bondage after slavery ended. But that crow dug his claws way down deep. He found a nesting place in our culture and in the individual lives of blacks as well as whites. Jim Crow is in our Collective Unconscious and our cells' memory, too. He’s in self-defeating belief systems that should have disappeared eons ago but haven't. Jim Crow did not fly away with the Civil Rights movement. He's still around. And he's doing just as much damage today as he did when it was common to be racist on the outside.
So the problem at hand is not the old Jim Crow but the one that flies today in stealth mode. That's why I decided to call the stories in my novel series HIDDEN CROW.
I'm a storyteller whose background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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