That elusive racial equality
A 2014 USA Today article “Equality still elusive 50 years after Civil Rights Act” notes that “Blacks have made many economic and educational gains, but progress still falls short.”
After so much recent racial unrest, some people might say that article is an understatement. I frankly don’t know, partly because fake news sites are putting out erroneous stories from both sides of the political aisle that skew what we know. And, some major news outlets slant their coverage so that news that might balance out stories about nasty incidents isn’t covered.
I grew up in a segregated state that had a strong KKK. When any progress toward equality was made, or even suggested, the Klan showed up. My church split into two churches when the main downtown church welcomed Blacks. I wondered how many people in the group that split off were members of the Klan. The thing is, one seldom knew. This environment impacted my childhood due to the fear, unrest, discord and unfairness of the status quo.
Frankly, once the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, I thought we’d begin to see progress. It never dawned on me then that 50 years later that so much racial inequality, distrust and outright hatred would still exist. I guess I was more naive than I knew.
I didn’t write Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman because I thought they would impact the current national dialogue about race. I wrote them primarily because I needed to speak to the fear and uncertainty I saw as a child in hopes of finding closure, and secondarily to remind people of a discouraging part of our history. It goes without saying, I suppose, that I also wanted to tell interesting and compelling stories.
I also grew up seeing that the Black church and the folk magic components of Black culture were being maligned. So I wanted to present fair and hopefully accurate stories that took those realities seriously–along with the blues music so closely associated with them–instead of as the targets of stereotype slurs I still hear too much of today. I hope readers will enjoy a look at these realities that’s both entertaining and a breath of fresh air.
I’m writing this post because racial issues are so much in the news today that I’m constantly forced back into memories of my childhood where–as I said somewhere in another post–I lost my innocence about our school lessons teaching us that everyone is treated equally socially, economically and legally. Writing these novels helped me sort out a lot of things, but I’m still waiting for closure.
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