It’s been nearly 50 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed racial segregation and ended many forms of institutionalized discrimination against African-Americans and women. Such groundbreaking legislation couldn’t have been possible, however, without the protests, organizing, sacrifices, and sadly, deaths of many civil rights participants, the majority of whom were Black.
Throughout the 20th Century, African-Americans have worked hard to not only be integrated into American society, but also to be treated equally. From the Civil Rights movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s, to the Black Power and Black Arts movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Black people have a long history of standing up against injustices and asserting our rights as human beings.
However, as the Civil Rights movement moves further and further to the recesses of our memories, and we enjoy the benefits of our grandparents and great-grandparents’ toil, I wonder if we’ve gotten too comfortable as a people.
I was talking to my coworker the other day when he posed this very question—have Black folks gotten too complacent?
We were discussing the fact that many of us haven’t had to “fight” or struggle for anything of substance. Besides overcoming the ‘hood, many young African-Americans don’t know what it’s like to be overtly discriminated against or have never felt the sting of blatant racism. Because of this, some argue that we have gotten too comfortable—too willing to accept what’s given to us instead of actively working toward change.
Even though there are definitely young people who are aware of the challenges African-Americans face and are working to combat them, however, the majority of us seem to be coasting on the toils of those who came before.
While the level of racism and injustice today is certainly not on par with what our parents or grandparents experienced, there are still things—unsafe neighborhoods, limited access to healthy and fresh foods, subpar urban schools—that we could (and should) be fighting to improve, so why aren’t we?