Another History Lesson

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Dear Editor:

After reading both Joanne Smith’s column and Palmer Doyle’s letter, I felt compelled to express my opinion.

As Americans we may all trace our roots to our own families facing discrimination and a very difficult time when first arriving on our shores. The Irish faced extreme adversity, as did the Italians and I am sure many other ethnicities. Each and every different group did work hard in order to establish a good life for themselves, their children and future grandchildren.

Many will not be interested in “looking back” to history. The days of slavery, the civil rights movement and the black efforts for ending discrimination still effect our present time. However to look back can be a learning experience. Looking back can explain how the history still has an effect on the present.

All our ancestors came to America to seek a better life. Many African Americans came to our shores as slaves captured in their own lands and sold. These human beings were treated as merchandise, to be purchased and owned to work at whatever their owners wished.

In many homes of new immigrants the father was respected as “head of the home” or the bread winner. This was not the situation of African- American slaves. The men had no control of how their wives and children would be treated. Their union with black woman was not recognized nor respected. At any time, their wives or children could simply be sold to any other slave owner. Their true family life was nonexistent. It all depended on the decisions of their owners. Perhaps some were more humane than others and most likely many were not.

The Civil Rights Movement is not ancient history. In the history of time, it is a mere “drop in the bucket.” Consider those older black Americans may have a vivid memory of being in the South suffering and dealing with separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, being made to sit in the back of a bus and requiring the National Guard to have black children enter schools.

Most likely, many of us have viewed the movies that depict the black woman in the South being “the bread winner,” caring for the white folks’ children and their homes. This was a result of the fact that many black men were not given the opportunity to work and provide for their families. There were not many jobs available if you were a black man.

While I was living in Virginia during 1967 and 1968 I witnessed the discrimination that still did exist. The lack of possible employment for black men was not just in the South it existed throughout our country.

Those times were devastating for black families. Past history does play a role in the present. To just say “that was then” and things are different now does not wash away all the history and the effect it still shows. Things are much better now, however, there is still a way to go for improvement. In my opinion, racism does still exist to some degree. It took Affirmative Action for minorities, women and those with disabilities to be given the opportunity to earn a living for their families.

To deny that there is still racism in our country is once again my opinion both foolish and a lack of facing reality. So yes, history does play a very substantial role in these present times. To my knowledge, no other ethnic groups needed government intervention for things to change.

The Rockaway Youth Task Force under the leadership of Milan Taylor has come a very long way. So many terrific kids have been given the opportunity to join, learn and work for our community.

I attended those beginning meetings of the Rockaway Youth Task Force at the Library on Beach 54th Street. I witnessed the hard work and difficulties Milan had gone through to begin the RYTF.

As far as Arielle Newton the chief innovation officer, I will trust the RYTF in their decision regarding who their officers are.


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