After the Movement

The Civil Rights movement is over.  The low hanging fruit has been picked. De jure segregation is over. Overt support for the Klan and its descendants is no longer acceptable. Women can have credit cards in their own names. Gay marriage has been enacted in several places and is no longer the butt end of a nasty joke.

Youngish and middle-aged blokes rails against the civil rights leadership. In turn, even younger people turn to us with contempt to ask why they are inheriting so many problems.

Public behavior has changed but virulent prejudice still endures.


Debilitating psychologically and economically for people of color.

Shame, rage, confusion and guilt raising for people in the majority.

Some racism is likely unconscious and, therefore, difficult to confront.  The folks at Yale and U-Dub have examined this through implicit association tests. If it turns out that rejecting difference is somehow encoded in our genes, the excuses that we’ll have to listen to about people being simply unable to overcome bias will be unendurable.

On the another front, there are still painful discussions (cf. Feministe) that demonstrate how far people are willing to go to deny their own privilege, whatever that privilege is based upon (color, class, heteronormative, fill in the blank)

Some, many of these debates seem tired and outdated. Are black women still arguing about natural versus relaxed hair in the shadow of the worst outcomes for African Americans in health care, education, incarceration, housing, employment in a generation?

Jessica Yee’s post at Racialicious mirrors my feelings exactly:

Which is all sounding to me like I’m being the educator again of other people’s oppressions and in all honesty it’s way too tiring. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how we are so busy telling other people not to be oppressive to our communities that we have little energy left to deal with what’s going on inside of our own communities. I’m finished

This moment is where training, endurance, passion and compassion have to meet. It’s the reason I always preferred the term the struggle to the movement.  Struggles involve hard, sustained work over a period of time, where obstacles are faced then overcome.

with doing the educating on how feminism needs to change – it’s been done.

It’s been done but it didn’t take, not completely.

This fight lacks the moral clarity of the 1960s.  Its more like the fractiousness of the 1970s described so ably in The Baader Meinhof Gang and Carlos. It is unlikely that moral heroes of the stature of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can emerge in our 24 hour news cycle, tabloid culture  envirionment.

So we are stuck with half measures, one step forward and two steps back dancing.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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