Rolling Out

The truth about Jim Crow

Jim Crow sign designating where African Americans could wait. (Courtesy of The Library of Congress)

Jim Crow never lied. Jim Crow promised colored folks death, injustice and the complete denial of opportunity and it delivered on its promises. The lies began when African-Americans were told Jim Crow had ended. With the “No Coloreds Allowed” and “Whites Only” signs no longer visible and the White Citizens’ Council meetings no longer publicly advertised, many African Americans accepted this facade of progress as freedom. And America peddled this false narrative of equality with a Madison Avenue type zeal.

The only problem with America’s race narrative is that statistics do not support it. When comparing the lives of White Americans and African Americans, African Americans are more likely to be suspended and expelled from public school; incarcerated; or murdered by a police officer. Despite the aforementioned facts, America demands that African Americans deny the historical and present-day realities of their American experience and embrace the myth of American exceptionalism. The even greater evil that America expects of African Americans is to convey this lie to their children.

If America were allowed to frame the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, they would pen tales whose tragic endings were due to miscommunication having nothing to do with racism or police misconduct. In the African American community, their murders are tragic but unsurprising, the rule not the exception. The oral history of Black men being lynched has been shared from generation to generation within African American families. Because that deadly history continues to this day, there are two conversation topics most African American parents have with their sons: police and White women. There are several lessons of survival African American parents must impart to their children with little or no help from the rest of society. In fact, African American parents are burdened with teaching their children a truth that is contradicted by America’s school system and television media.

The American school system and most of the American television media perpetuate the myth of American exceptionalism. Classrooms and television shows promote an unrealistic racial harmony and ignore the existence of racial discord or injustice. Educators and actors validate the lie that racism does not exist and America is colorblind by their performances. (Yes, educators are some of the best actors you will ever meet.) This creates a potentially dangerous fantasy world for African American youth. In their pursuit of acceptance or just trying to be a regular kid, they lose sight that their Blackness makes their American narrative unique. And while the school system and the television media have failed to provide an honest racial narrative, social media has not.

Without social media, the odds are good that Jim Crow would still be tucked away in the witness protection program. The video footage of racist incidents from school classrooms to street corners has exposed an America that White Americans believed was a thing of the past and that African Americans carefully navigate each day. Social media’s continued racial documentary of American life has ignited a 21st century Civil Rights Movement. When African American parents discuss the evil nature of racism with their children, all they have to do is visit the social media forum of their choice for evidence. Their children will see how Jim Crow is still keeping every one of its promises in 2016.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out