To the Editor:
Now that we have gotten through one of the nastiest elections in the history of this country, one can only hope and pray that the tenor of the country will return to some form of normalcy and civility. Not just from this campaign, but in general. As one who is a little past the baby boomer era, having grown up in the 1950s, I am showing my angst and dismay at what has become of this place we call America.
From all forms of media to the man on the street, there has been so much lost when it comes to decorum and character, and most of all, empathy and caring for each other. As we go to Florida every winter, there was one glaring problem that hit me square in the gut when driving and seeing the plight of the African American population; and, the fact that this was hardly ever mentioned by either candidate during the campaign. I am not an authority, but seeing what I see in Florida is so disturbing and troubling that it stays with me on a daily basis.
First of all, I see a very small, if any, middle class black population. I don’t know if this a Southern problem in particular, or just the South of today that still seems a place of centuries ago. The blacks can work and live as they choose, in their communities, amongst their own, supporting themselves as best they can. But, are they really getting a chance at the American dream as so many of us know it to be? They work as laborers, landscapers, migrant workers, and as the “forgotten.” From our home, I drive through neighborhoods of shacks that barely remain standing. I drive through neighborhoods where the bicycle is the only mode of transportation, young or old. This may be one’s choice, but then I turn my thoughts to the Vineyard, where the diversity, the civility and dignity, the opportunities, and basic human tenets of the African American population is a constant. This Island is such an example of people living amongst each other, helping each other, no matter the color of one’s skin or the plight of their existence. Whether summer or winter, I have never, ever seen or heard outright discrimination and insult, as I have in Florida.
I was in the market one day, when a black woman waited on me in the deli. Another woman was next to me, exhibiting extreme impatience and annoyance. When I was finished with my order, she rudely told the employee that she took too long and would she please hurry up. Then, walking around to the other side, I heard the employee say to another worker, “They still treat us like slaves.” I crumbled.
It made me sick to my stomach that, in this day and age, I would hear something like that. Do we forget that we are all children of God, that we all have a place on this earth with each other? Do we really have places in this country that are so backward and loathe progress so that one could hear such a remark? She was doing a good day’s work. She was lovely with me. And, yet, in her day, someone could make her feel like “slave. Needless to say, it totally confounded me and how I was raised or how I think.
Let’s hope that, no matter who won the election, there will be a sensitive dialogue for all of us on how to live together; that, those who still live in the dark ages can see a light out of their ignorance, and most of all, that the 21st century will be more tolerant, especially in places that I see.
Great progress has been made in many parts of this land, but witnessing such behavior from one, causing a remark so sad, is still with me today.