Published 8:39 pm Monday, May 21, 2018
By Joe Bass
There has been a great deal of change during my many years. I was born in a town in New Mexico that no longer exists. I grew up in Oklahoma during Jim Crow. I witnessed social upheavals that resulted in passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as our nation strived to place all people on an equal footing.
It has been interesting to observe the dynamics of some people promoting change and others resisting it. Making change happen is not easy. The major challenge involves the fact people that are doing well cling to the status quo. They fear losing what they have, even when change will make life better for others that are not doing well. During Jim Crow, white people kept black Americans uneducated and underemployed so that they worked for low wages. Whites benefited from this economic structure. Low-wage blacks produced products and services, but most of the money from the sales went to whites.
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The 1964 Civil Rights Act has resulted in many being able to improve themselves and their lives. In our population there are many highly successful black citizens. They are highly educated. Some are millionaires. Forbes lists three billionaires: Oprah Winfrey, Robert Smith and Michael Jordan. Some are in high political offices. We had a black President of the United States. These changes represent dramatic social improvements that have occurred during the last 50-plus years. They were unthinkable when I was a child.
There is considerable evidence that Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty has had harmful impacts on some black Americans. In many ways, some are right back where their grandparents were before the mid-1960s, and they experience other social negatives that did not previously exist.
There are many calls for dialogues on the social challenges that exist. I presented one on these pages last week. But again, we are experiencing fear of change. People that are doing well cling to the status quo. How likely is it that a civic group will sponsor the dialogues I proposed? I’m afraid the chances are not good. Those that have been able to benefit from previous changes are unlikely to promote activities that will bring about other changes even when the need for improvements is obvious.
For the dialogues I proposed to take place will be a great surprise. I hope they occur, but it will require a brave group to sponsor activities that might bring about change to the status quo, even if great improvements are needed and will be to the benefit of many.
Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.