The Transition Network

Atlanta Chapter

Experiences of Racism

(Posted July 28, 2020)

Gail Collier-Glover
Atlanta is the seat of Civil Rights, the home of Martin Luther King Jr. Other icons from the era reside in Atlanta.  We lost two on the same day in July, CT Vivian and John Lewis.  With our history as the capital of civil rights and justice it was logical to see protesters in our city.
 
I felt the need to briefly discuss my perspective on world events in this very strange time we find ourselves. I am the product of the South, most of those in our age group who are African American grew up similarly. I was born into the Jim Crow era which translates to legalized segregation. We went to separate and often sub-par schools, could not shop in clothing stores, had to sit in the balcony of movie theaters and drink from separate water fountains. This was my life as a child, fortunately for me my parents and community were supportive and insulated us from the harshness of the times and made sure we knew we were "more than what others say we are."

My parents expected us to excel academically, make good decisions and be responsible. If it had not been for that environment of cushioning and protecting us from the incivility of the times, I don't know what I would have done to survive.
 
It was easy for some to ignore or have indifference to how our society existed. For African Americans there was an understanding of our historical existence and never expected too much. Because we were freed from slavery, enjoyed the Reconstruction period for a short number of years and we then had to endure Jim Crow laws for 100 years. We saw the Brown versus the Board of Education decision in 1954 to end segregation in schools but in the South, it was not until 1970 that the schools were integrated. I was in the 10th grade when I experienced going to school with other races. About 1 year later an Academy was opened and most of the white students left.

We know People of Color (POC) have faced discrimination but we have learned to navigate in spite of it. We have suffered words of bafflement, often stereotyped and disregarded, yet we keep going. We know we have to perform better, prepare more and execute when placed in a position of trust,  be it in school or on a job.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25th was a wake up and reminder we still live in a perilous world. Most people saw the injustice. African Americans saw it and had flash backs to the past and dealt with both pains.

I have been encouraged as I walk nearby neighborhoods and see the Black Lives Matter signs in yards as a show of solidarity. I am encouraged that young white men and women joined in the protest as they understand mistreatment of a fellow citizen is not the world they want for themselves and their children. I am encouraged when people worldwide showed solidarity and allowed their voices to be heard.  I am encouraged that from a NextDoor conversation among neighbors led to multi-racial group to discuss racism and other topics. 

We have made strides but there is still work left to do.  

                    









 

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