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Race Relations
Do you think that race relations in the United States will improve in 2015?
New South, Old South: The Great Divide
11/12/2014 4:39:14 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Now that the election is over, I am not holding out that much will change on the local and state levels. As I sit in on some of the local meetings, I am observing a very disturbing trend whether it is in government or on the school board. It’s what I refer to as the great divide. Some call it the “new” south. While some things may have changed slightly, most things remain the same. Let’s take a look at the new south and where the new south is headed.

One of the exit questions facing voters after last week’s election was “are blacks getting too demanding in their push for equal right.” My response is an emphatic “NO” not pushy enough. The poll was conducted by Clemson University Political Science Professor David Woodard who denies that he was trying to be “provocative” in asking what some believe was a “racially charged” question. While the question may not be “racially charged”, it certainly is “racially insensitive”.

Professor Woodard said he used the data question that was used in a research back in the 70’s. The professor thought he would just piggy back on the question as a way to expand the research or follow up on data that dates back to the 70’s. My son dates back to the 70’s but no one is collecting data on him.

No one is asking him why he left South Carolina for better opportunities? No one asked him whether the “new” south included equal opportunities for him in education and in the job market? No one asked him whether whites were getting too demanding when they promoted less qualified persons including some with no degrees over him. No one asked him just what it is about his skin that gets under their skin. Until I see the collective data and how the data will be used to fix the great divide in South Carolina especially and in this country particularly, I think the question is outlandish and serve no useful purpose. Perhaps the correlation the professor hoped to establish was the fact that Tim Scott won. Did Tim Scott win because he was “too demanding in his push for equal rights”, I don’t think so. I won’t get into why Tim Scott won because that in itself is another story.

What’s the purpose in tracking whether “blacks are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights?” If blacks weren’t pushing for what is inherently basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution, they would still be cleaning “Buckra” house, picking tobacco and in cotton fields. White folks just don’t get it! Well, maybe they do. Let me revisit that statement. I believe some do but refuse to acknowledge that all humans are “created equal” and should be treated with dignity and respect. No one should have to push for rights that they were born with and guaranteed under the Constitution of these United States.

If you don’t think the question is ridiculous and does not warrant tracking, why not ask voters “do they think whites are too demanding in their push to deprive blacks of their equal rights”? My response to the question would be unequivocally “YES”. It reminds me of the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. The outcome of polls can be swayed either way depending on who are being polled. Poll results are intended to influence outcomes.

What is happening in the “new south” is a move to push blacks back into segregation. Why do we have such great divide between black and white teachers, black and white administrators? Have you visited your child’s school lately? Check and see how many black teachers are in white classrooms; now, flip the coin and see how many white teachers are in black classrooms. And, you are talking “new south” to me? Why, do we continue to create such division? Please don’t tell me they can’t find qualified minority teachers and administrators; or, blacks are not going into education.

I would not waste my time either to secure loans that will take 50 years to pay back if I were treated with such disrespect as I see some black teachers and administrators go through just to get or keep a job. It just isn’t worth it. Teachers’ pay isn’t the greatest but the rewards are and more blacks would go into teaching if the teaching field was leveled. The assignment of teachers within Charleston County School District is by design, discriminatory in practice and disgraceful.

In the “old south” in my humble upbringing, I knew poverty before I knew privilege. In the “old south”, I knew manners before I knew money, respect before rejection, humility before hatred, right before wrong, and dignity before discrimination. You can’t teach “old south”; you had to live through it to know that very little has changed in the “new south”. In the “new south”, I now know privilege comes before poor, money before manners, rejection before respect, hatred before humility, wrong before right and discrimination before dignity. So, what else is new in the “new south”?

Are y’all feeling me?


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