Opinion

Modern Woke Rage Is NOT Vastly Different Than Anti-Segregation Activism In The Civil Rights Era


Tim, Ian, and Lydia join Chloe Valdary, founder of Theory of Enchantment, the alternative to critical theory, to debate whether woke fervor is radically different …

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One response to “Modern Woke Rage Is NOT Vastly Different Than Anti-Segregation Activism In The Civil Rights Era”

  1. Charley says:

    Talk about comparisons between racism today and racism “back then”, or question whether the riots through the ’60s were worse than now, is something I look at from time to time.
    For background, I’m 73 years old and, no, I’m not normal; I’m always on the lower slopes of bell curves.
    In early September, 1957, I’m listening to the radio that dad always had on during breakfast for the news before he went to work at 7 am.
    I’m not paying attention till I hear 101st Airborne and Col Kuhn, the name pronounced in one of its various mispronunciations I’d come to recognize, and my mind is scrambling to review what was said before that; Little Rock Arkansas, desegregation, governor ordered national guard, President Eisenhower ordered 101st Airborne…
    Desegregation was something I was aware of, because of court cases challenging Brown vs The Board of Education. The leftover whats, whys, and how come questions of the morning news got filled in that night on the 6 pm national news.
    I saw pictures of my uncle Bill on TV in Little Rock Arkansas commanding the 1st Battalion (1000 troops) of the 101st Airborne, so some negro students could safely go to the high school, because each student was being escorted to their classes by 10, 101st soldiers around them, and the soldiers remained in the hallways between classes.

    Something about this and other places dealing with the same problems about court orders effecting Negroes being allowed to go to school in previously all white schools, and the growing Civil Rights Movement being attacked by police, police dogs, white people and fire hoses, became nightly news stories throughout my school years.

    Talking with my uncle, years after he had retired, he told me that Little Rock was the worst duty he’d ever had to do, to have to be there so some children could go to school. I was caught by the term, “some children”, with no racial reference.

    It wouldn’t be till 1968, when I was home on leave before going to Viet Nam, that I personally came head to head with racism. Wanting to shoot some pool at one of my favorite pool halls I’d been going to throughout high school, I was met by a road block turning people away because of riots in the local area, known as The Hilltop, a predominately black area. I parked, and walked through a store to bypass the roadblock. Walking into the pool hall, I was surprised by the number of people my age. Since all 4 tables were in use, I got a can of Coke and found an out-of-the-way place to watch. I knew a lot of the players here were much better than I and I wasn’t going to challenge a table just to be someone else’s practice game. Coming from the back of the hall, I see one of the old men who had helped me with my pool game, during quieter times here, walking toward me.

    When he gets to me, I smile, “How ya doing, sir?” Using “sir” here wasn’t unusual for me, it was what I’d been taught, but I saw several pool players take notice, or maybe it was just because I’d spoke.

    “You need to leave here,” he said. More people take notice.

    “Look, I’m home on leave before I go to Viet Nam and I’d like to, maybe, shoot some pool at on of my favorite places,” I say.

    He paused for a moment, “I and maybe others here can appreciate that. You need to appreciate that isn’t going to happen today. You leave now, and you won’t be the cause of any problems here.”

    “I don’t know what most of this is about and I’m sorry it has to be this way,” I say before I turn to go.

    In a quiet, filled only with breathing and shuffling feet, I hear behind me a whispered, “Me too.”

    To say worse now or worse then, requires a narrower scope of questions: How many people were/are hurt? How many dollars damage? What was the long term economic impact? How long before the damage was/is repaired? How many people moved, and to where? How many couldn’t move and why?

    For myself, then was worse because it was the first time seeing/hearing riots and the black vs white mentality. Seeing the brutality of the police, I questioned whether the police response was right or not; voicing these questions I learned quickly brought vehement responses, leaving me with more questions.

    One of the side questions I had in ’85, when going through a PTSD treatment program at the VA, How many people in the race and anti-Viet Nam riots, in particular the Chicago riots of the ’68 Democratic Convention, have their own PTSD?
    I think about those 18-20 year old privates (all white) escorting black students to their class, then patrolling the hallways, being hated and called names by almost every white person they see, being ordered to unsheathe their bayonets, which have to be kept razor sharp, and using those bayonets to move back the white crowd, just a year or two younger than them, and being glad to have those bayonets because you fear what the crowd might do, based on previous riots.

    What kind of PTSD to those soldiers have, or the students facing those bayonets?

    This is longer than I intended and it bounced around more than intended, and I know it didn’t answer the primary question of then or now.

    I also know this comment is late. The question opened a lot of memories for me to look at, again.

    later