Long-term effects of Jim Crow era

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Studies have shown that long-term traumatic experiences can cause anxieties for years. Soldiers suffer from post-war syndromes. Victims of violent crimes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, and the damage can last a lifetime. So isn’t it logical to assume that anyone who lived through the Jim Crow era in the South wrestles with some issues based on their experiences during that time in history?

It would be my educated guess that certain events, words, or phrases could trigger memories of a different time. Even those who did not live through the Jim Crow era can be affected based on stories passed on from generation to generation. 

For African Americans it could be something as simple as being pulled over by law enforcement officers for a routine traffic stop and being asked in a not so nice tone, “where you going, or where you been?”, the throwing of one’s change on the counter in a check out line, or the use of the “N” word, boy, gal, your kind, or you people when referencing them. 

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For Whites it could be the sight of an interracial couple or children of mixed ethnic groups. It could be seeing non-whites in roles they’re not accustomed to seeing or having an encounter with a well educated, articulate, stand my ground type of man or woman of color. 

Then there are those little subtle things we do that we don’t even realize we are doing and meant no one any harm or disrespect, but yet can cause a suspicious mind to jump to a false conclusion. I’m guilty at times, I see things that are not really there, and it’s all because of my life’s early experiences. God knows I know how much better things are now because of laws, but it took good people, to elect the right people, that would do the right thing, and those people came from all walks of life.

When I see some of the young kids in my community under achieve I know some of it is because their parents have bought into the idea passed down from elders that they’re just not good enough. I also see some act a fool and use the they won’t let me do this or that, treating me this way because I’m black! Jim Crow helped plant that in their minds. 

I see some Whites struggling with the fact that some things have changed and are left wishing for an era that no longer exists. I feel like some whites will always feel that Blacks in general, no matter how successful they are, will always be beneath them. Jim Crow planted that seed.

As a public figure, I’m often caught in the middle of these racial debates when some high profile incident occurs that involves people of different races in this area. 

Then there are those calls about being discriminated against by my boss, by the police, I was targeted because I’m black or I’m white, yes I get a lot of them. I’ve found out the proper way to deal with any controversy is to deal with the facts and not emotions and most times these matters can easily be resolved. I put this little piece together because I truly believe the idea that post Jim Crow is a disorder we suffer from and it’s more fact than fiction.

I remember talking to a friend right after President Obama was elected and he said, “I don’t know if I’m going to like having a Black president!!” Now I didn’t identify this friend by race on purpose. The truth of the matter is that election disrupted an order established a long time ago and we thought that way of thinking was almost extinct but now we know. 

You know that friend I mentioned?  

They could be Black or White, because that’s what Jim Crow did to everybody!

By: Anthony Hales