I went to a racially diverse high school (AKA we were the chocolate chips in the cookie dough) and I remember that classes were canceled due to a pipe bursting in the wee hours before the school opened. I also remember that there was a racial divide in this case where anyone who was black thought OJ was innocent while anyone who wasn’t black thought he was guilty.
I remember sitting on the couch eating some fat shit as they read the verdict. Hell, I actually taped the verdict but don’t ask me where that tape is. And I remember shouting joyfully when OJ got off. Then I thought about how bad it would have been if I was in school that day as all the black students rejoiced while everyone else looked around for comforting and consolation.
That was almost twenty years ago. And one of the things that has remained constant in our society is our fascination with race.
And in some cases, our denial that racism still exists. However, this fascination has been an American standard since way before 1994 when the murders occurred.
Another interesting fact about October 3 is Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson released one of their most beloved songs ‘Say, Say, Say‘ on this date in 1983. This was, of course, after the former Beatle released ‘The Girl Is Mine‘ with MJ AND ‘Ebony and Ivory‘ with Stevie Wonder the year before.
If you will recall, Ebony and Ivory dealt with the issue of race by comparing it to the black and white keys on a piano living side by side in perfect harmony.
Have things gotten better? Yes and No. In the past Thirty-One years since “Ebony and Ivory” was released we have acquired a National holiday observing the life of Dr. King, crowned our first Academy Award winning Black Leading Actress, elected our first Black President, seen the creation of a multitude of networks aimed specifically at an African American demographic as well as witnessed countless other milestones and moments in history such as the founding of the first PhD program in African American studies at Temple University (TU!), the Million Man March and the rise and fall of Ebonics (Thank God).
Conversely though crime has increased dramatically to the point where local news stations give an annual report of how many people were murdered in a single year. Gun control is a joke in this country with everyone consistently referring to our God-given right to bear arms (Thanks Constitution!) And lets not forget about the ongoing war between black children and their parents; A deadbeat education system failing to nurture them and an omnipresent jail system waiting with open arms to embrace them.
Still, in the grander scheme a lot has indeed changed. For example, Gay Rights. There was a time when two people of the same sex had to live in fear of being shunned by the entire community but not anymore. Now they only have to worry about whether or not they’ll be shunned by 30-40% of the community.
Unless they live in rural America or the deep South, then it’s pretty much everyone.
Nevertheless Gays can get married, have families and live openly to a certain extent. Please believe there are still many people out there that hate Gays just because they love differently. And of course, who wants to live in a world with different kinds of people?
Technology has changed the way we interact with one another as well. There was a time when the quickest, most innovative way to get in contact with someone was to hit them on the hip (which is Oldhead terminology for ‘Page Me’ or ‘Beep Me’). Prior to pagers you could always hunt someone down from a pay phone on the street. Unfortunately, if the person you were attempting to call was already on the phone you’d be met with a busy signal.
So what did you do then?
Now we have call waiting, texting, emailing, Skype and various Social Networking sites to stay connected. It seems like a bit much but if anything you can tell if someone doesn’t want to be bothered with you because they will refuse to respond to any of your attempts to reach them through one of the aforementioned means of communication.
I believe the thing that has changed the most is media and Entertainment. Primarily Music and television.
Let’s be real. With the exception of a few actual artists out there the music is wack.
Like SOOOOOOOO fuckin’ wack.
Let’s take the anomaly of the Female Emcee as an example.
How do you go from the Roxanne Shante’ era of the early 80’s, to the height of the Golden Era of Hip Hop with MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt n Pepa, Sweet Tee and others, to the raunchy bravado of chicks that spit that shit like Kim, Foxy, Eve and Digga.
Hell, how do you go from powerful, commanding brothas like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Nas, Big, Pac, Pun, The Wu and other cats who actually care about Hip Hop.
And television has disintegrated from diamonds to dog shit. There was a time when TV wasn’t all about what show can shock you the most. There used to be shows that made you feel good. Through the years television shows have gone from wholesome family programs dealing with various social issues to this.
Reality TV has become the catalyst of dreams for the unknowns of the world as well. The problem with Reality TV “stars” is that most of the people who are on these shows don’t know how to let the spotlight go when their fifteen minutes of fame are up. Reality TV also showcases bad behavior as the pinnacle of social acceptance. For example, when two forty-something year old “wives” are fighting over silly, He Said-She Said gossip like a bunch of twelve year old girls and then bringing it up again during the Reunion show you have to wonder what didn’t they receive in their lives growing up that makes them thrive off of this negativity?
Even worse are the “men” with tattoos all over their faces rapping about bussing nuts in some hoes face and killing niggas. Where does the developmental deficiency come into play?
So this is where we are now. A slightly less homophobic, subtly racist society that worships violence, stereotypes and whores.
See. Things can change. They just don’t necessarily always change for the better.