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Can’t We All Just Get Over It

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I love reading something that makes me think of things in a new way. It happened this week. There’s a fictional character in a book I’m reading. He’s the police chief of LA. He is talking to a man and telling him that 90 percent of his job is dealing with race relations with 10 percent of the population (blacks) and his other responsibilities are delegated to others. He says he deals in reality and the reality is that although white people think blacks should be “over” slavery, the fact is they’re not and so rather than tell the blacks they should get over it, he deals with reality and as a result he has excellent relations with blacks, crime in the city is down, etc.

Mostly when I read anything, I read too quickly. I don’t mean I speed read. I just want to find out what happens next. But sometimes the written word causes me to pause. This passage made me pause. It makes perfect sense. I’m a white person. And I suppose it is true that I think black people should be “over” slavery, at least in a present day sort of way. But there are things in my life that I am not “over” even though some people think I should be. I’m just not. It’s not that I don’t want to be. I just can’t be. Not right now. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Will the things that I can’t get over extend to my descendants? Maybe not. But the things that I can’t seem to get over are not things that apply to my entire race. They’re big, but not that big.

These thoughts led to other thoughts, as thoughts are often prone to do and I began to think about where I live. In Georgia, I’ve learned that you don’t live in a town, you live in a county. Mine is Forsyth. When we moved here, I had little idea of the history of the county. I just liked my house. I started to wonder about the chief of police here (actually I think the equivalent position here would be the County Sheriff). Does he spend 90 percent of his time on race relations with blacks? I seriously doubt it. Why? Because in a county of 98,407, (according to epodunk and the 2000 census) there are 684 black people. Why is this?

Forsyth County has a reputation for racism. We’ve lived here for four months and my kids have been told where the old hanging tree is located. They say you can still see where the rope wore away the bark. My kids also know where the KKK met (or is it meets?), at the Mr. Swiss restaurant. They also told me how Oprah came to this county in 1987 to tape a show and find out why no black people lived in a county with 38,500 residents. So you can see we’ve had some explosive growth (increase of 59,907 residents) in thirteen years. And we went from 0 percent blacks to >1 percent (.7 to be exact) blacks.

Well now, that’s progress.


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