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Dealing with Race Relations as a Millennial: Why I appreciate the University of Oklahoma SAE video

Time and time again,  many people of color millennials have had to argue why we are not in a post-racial America.

Granted, there are a few obvious occurrences, like racial profiling followed by police brutality, yet there are many that go unnoticed. Many of which take place on college campuses and in the work place.

Let me make one thing clear, the statement that we are in a post-racial America has not only come from members of the majority, but also those that fall under the minority. I have heard this largely from elder people of color who feel that “my generation has no struggle.”

This brings me to why I appreciate the SAE video.

Numerous co-workers (including those of color) were surprised to see such behavior from a young generation. There are a variety of racial events that occurred on my college campus within the past five years (mind you, I’ve been an alum for one). One of these events involving a group of white males trying to hit a black female with their truck. Luckily she was able to run across the crosswalk in time, but not fast enough to prevent herself from hearing the racial slur (n****r) that followed. Needless to say none of the men were suspended or expelled. 

To those older people of color I want to say what Laurence Fishburne nobly yelled at the end of School Daze, “WAKE UUUUUP!” Perhaps it’s wrong of me to expect so much more from a generation that boasts about being wiser than my own.

We may have rights we wouldn’t have had 50 years ago, but it doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy. Change is still a necessity. Though I do not believe one person of color speaks for all people of color, the things you say in front of the majority still matter. Making such a bold and layered statement in front of a white audience can be the difference between progress and preservation of inconspicuous oppression.

Not to mention, the mentality that comes along with such a statement. I’ve had a few incidents where an older person of color has stated that they didn’t want to help a younger person of color because they needed to go through the same struggle. I don’t fully understand the sense behind this (other than their assumption that they need to break their sense of entitlement and add to their lack of struggle). Either way, it isn’t beneficial for either party.

Speaking for myself, I have no sense of entitlement. I am proudly ambitious. I am willing to do what it takes (without compromising my morals and values) to fulfill my aspirations. It is hard enough to work against a system designed to keep me from achieving my goals due to the color of my skin (and gender). Please, don’t try to create more obstacles for me. Life will do that on its own.

Last I checked, 26 years later, the incidents occurring today coincide quite well with the ending of the 1989 classic Do The Right Thing. Coincidence? I think not.

Slavery lasted for 246 years in this country. It’s been 150 since it was abolished (followed by 12 years of pure racism and sharecropping and 78 years of “hidden” racism under Jim Crow Laws) and 47 since the civil rights movement ended. It baffles me when any person of color has the audacity to suggest that we have been able to break down a system rooted in the foundation of racism in such a short time.

The SAE video revealed what Dear White People couldn’t fully portray. I say this because, though the movie does site incidents in the rolling credits, there were still many people (even millennials) who were in disbelief. They rejected the truth, that a majority of students of color experience what it is like to be on the end of a racial attack (big or small) at some point in their college career. Some refused to accept the movie as a fabricated portrayal of fact, simply because it was fiction.

To the older people of color, I say get involved with youth today and have an accurate knowledge of what “millennials” and the coming generation are truly experiencing.

To the young people, I say get involved and acquire knowledge of the system you live in (no matter your racial identity). The government is, typically, not your friend. You may not be able to know everything, but it’s good to know something.

To the boys in SAE singing the song in the video, I say thank you for being foolish enough to outwardly display your ignorance so that conversations being had will lead to future greatness and the ability for others to learn from your asinine mentality. 

Pizza, Netflix, and Happiness. Mei

2 Comments

  1. Mrs.Qute says

    I think your generation, as any, has a struggle. But when it comes to race relations, I am not sure how anyone can break it down into a generational “Level of struggle.” I am of the older generation. The generation that saw the unfolding of Spike Lee’s art in movies such as School Daze.
    I speak to young people about the work of my father and other prominent individuals to bring about a sense of equality between all races. When I say, “My father laid his money down on the counter of an all white pool and ran and jumped in the water before they could say , ‘You can’t swim here!’ “, at first they are awestruck. After the initial response I hear, “But it is different now.” When I talk about how blacks could not eat at white counters, enter white doors, sit on white toilets, go to white schools. They say, “That was then, its not affecting me, so its not my problem!”
    I beg to differ. There is a systematic problem brewing. And there are four parts that in whole or individually keep America from growing to a point where racism is no more.
    1) Product of environment – Children learn from their environment. As long as racism is
    being taught to be okay in the home, children will learn to be racist.
    2) Masking- There is also the situation where they smile in our face and amongst each
    other they talk against us. And they teach their children how to act with us although
    they do not like us. This is because they do not want to be viewed as the bad guy.
    3) Divide and Conquer- Sometimes that is easier done than said. It existed prior to
    slavery.
    4) Human Expectancy – Maybe, no matter what was taught to them, we did not treat them
    with kindness and respect when they were young. Or, they see us committing
    atrocities against each other, not respecting ourselves and our own people. ( You know
    like fighting in Wal-Mart….. Or punching and robbing a store manager before being
    gunned down.) It is just a fact that all people judge.

    None of these are attributed to whites only. Blacks and other races do the same thing. Somehow the minority thinks it is different when we are ignorant, than when the majority is ignorant. There are still things to be done to uphold and maintain the rights that were fought for, as well as new barriers to be broken.
    We can put laws in place to MAKE people treat each other differently. But that does not change peoples way of thinking so that they WANT to treat each other differently.

    Maybe older people and young alike need an awakening to the fact that the struggle is ours. I may feel that my days are numbered, but I can not count the days. How many of those days will your generation care for me? Therefore, if it affects you and it affects me.

    These young men may not have been taught the phrase, “What is done in the dark, will come to the light.” However, I am sure when it comes to school, the phrase “Better Out than In” does not rings true.

    Like

    • I agree. I would love to know the ages of the individuals you’re referring to. Nonetheless, I feel that many that are older will hear one comment from a few youth and take that to be the mindset of everyone in that generation. Generalizations aren’t beneficial to anyone.

      Many who are prejudice try to use problems in the black community (and other communities) as a reason to discriminate. Obviously that’s not a valid reason or excuse. Issues need to be tackled with both parties.

      Like

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