To my surprise, some feel that since we have elected the first African American to the highest office in our nation, racism and prejudice are dead and race problems are muted. Some even believe that the organizations and people that helped pave the way for President Barack Obama are no longer needed. To the contrary, with the election of the first African-American president, racist behavior may rear its ugly head even more. The struggle still continues regardless of the election of Barack Obama.
Diversity training is still needed in corporate America. Many cultural barriers still hinder our growth in rural parts of our country. To think that injustice will cease to exist and civil rights organizations are no longer needed or are less important could not be further from reality. I think that more than ever, organizations like the NAACP are still vital and have a place in our society. Civil rights organizations are the watchdogs that report discriminatory behavior and make sure that those who commit racist acts are dealt with accordingly.
The struggle for minorities to have a level playing field of opportunities still exists. The struggle for equal pay for equal work still exists. The struggle to gain access to health care in the richest nation in the world still exists. The struggle for women to be accepted by their male counterparts still exists.
While progress has been made among minorities — educational, housing, and economic gaps have closed — now is not the time to be complacent. Now is not the time to think we have arrived. Now is not the time to have a seat. Now is not the time to move to the sidelines.
We as a community cannot let up and think the game is over. If we let our guard down, the rules may change. If we fail to press on, we will have taken a giant leap backwards. It took a collective effort to elect President Obama. It took a collective effort for every citizen to have the right to vote. Therefore, it will take a collective effort to correct the disparities among us.
The question is, where will you be? Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution? Will you say, it’s not my problem, or will you say, how can I help? Will you join forces to be the positive change you want to see in your community, or will you settle for business as usual? As for me and my house, the answer is clear.
Despite what some may think of the NAACP or unions, they are needed. Until racism, sexism, and discrimination are brought to a halt, civil rights and workers’ rights organizations will forever be needed to guard against the evil and hated principles of some people.
We have too many ineffective so-called leaders and elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels for us to even entertain the notion that the struggle is over. Until we are progressive in our thinking and in our actions, Charleston and many other parts of South Carolina will not reach their full potential. I do believe that we shall overcome someday, just not today.