In all three forms of media that we looked into for this week, it was clear that the perceptions surrounding black American’s have remained widely consistent between the mid-20th century when these stories took place and today. As I read Brent Staples’ piece on his experiences walking the streets of Chicago as a student, I couldn’t help but notice that this is a stereotype that is still present over 50 years later. The idea surrounding stereotypes is something that has interested me recently for a variety of reasons, but the fact that a person cannot walk down the street without consciously whistling or acting in ways that seem less threatening is bothersome. We see similar interactions between Ron Stallworth and David Duke over the phone in Spike Lee’s Blakkklansman. In their conversations, Duke believes Stallworth to be a close friend because of his non-threatening “white” voice, but had Duke seen Stallworth, this would not have been the case.
How can a single character trait determine a person’s essence? I would like to think that we have made progress in this area from 50 years ago, and in many ways, I believe we have, but I even notice in my life certain implicit biases that influence my views on people and ideas. This is dangerous because complacency with current progress could result in the halting of any forward movement. My parents, for example, believe that our generation are too politically correct, and in the most innocent and well-meaning way possible, don’t put as much effort into changing their own minds. And why should they? After all, they have lived a life that is entirely different than what is relevant today, but my point is that today is not really that different than the time in which my parents grew up but it seems that it is on our generation to make significant changes. If we learn from our parents, then it is on us to raise a new generation of people who can think for themselves beyond the limitations of previous modes of thought.