by S.A. Prince
Painting: “School of Athens” by Raphael
I used to think that it was the media dividing the country.
I am excited to say that I am continuing to learn, to question, and challenge myself, my thoughts, and my perceptions to continually evolve through cognitive dissonance.
It is not the media dividing the country. It wasn’t Obama, and even Trump, as lascivious as he is, isn’t the one diving the country.
First, the country has always been divided. That’s interesting seeing that just yesterday was the sixtieth anniversary of the Little Rock Nine. In case you don’t know who they are, the Little Rock Nine were nine African-American students who integrated the then all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas back in 1957. To get inside, President Eisenhower had to have the 101st Airborne Division of the Army escort them.
Thankfully, I do believe we have come further than those days, but maybe not too far.
All you have to do is look no further than the biggest cities in America. Most of them are heavily segregated. Let’s name a few.
These are from MSNBC’s The 16 Most Segregated Cities in America
- Washington, D.C. (16)
- Atlanta, Georgia (14)
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (12)
- Louis, Missouri (10)
- Baltimore, Maryland (8)
- New Orleans, Louisiana (6)
- Memphis, Tennessee (4)
- Chicago, Illinois (2)
- Detroit, Michigan (1)
This should be alarming to you. In some of the largest cities in America, it’s a rarity for African-Americans and Caucasians to live near each other. That is very telling.
If African-Americans and Caucasians do not live near each other, then the likelihood of them understanding one another is also low, and how could they? By not being in proximity of one another, they don’t develop relationships and grow together, their kids don’t go to the same schools, and they don’t face the same environmental problems and influences.
It’s probably not a stretch to say that the heavily segregated communities care little about each other. Caucasians, for the most part, likely only care about where they live, and the same can be said for African-Americans. That’s a huge problem considering in the aforementioned list, these groups live in the same city. Over time, chronic problems like poverty and crime begin to look like racial issues, instead of societal issues.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. As generations pass and those societal issues remain unaddressed by the entire community, racial groups not only become pigeon-holed, which in itself is an uphill battle, but it becomes easy to embrace what you are subjected to.
So, if your great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and now you, have all grown up seeing the same chronic problems, then it is no longer seen as a problem, but as a foregone conclusion, and possibly a hopeless existence.
If it isn’t obvious at this point, the cause of the country’s division is not any individual or a single group, but a lack of an interpersonal interracial relationship. Instead of a melting pot, America looks more like a quart of Neapolitan ice cream.
When a country is so broken and so divided over issues like NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, it is a telltale sign that the experiences of its people are nearly polar opposites. America needs more than a discourse. We need relationship, and we needed it yesterday.
The problem is, you can’t force it like they did with the Little Rock Nine back in 1957. It’s six decades later, and it’s obvious that didn’t work. Government intervention via legislation to create a racially influenced policy would be the equivalent of an arranged marriage. African-Americans and Caucasians have to want relationship.