Forces that Shape Us

I worry dearly about my grandchildren and little ones like them, who will grow up under at least four years of TrumpWorld: brown people are to be deported, black lives don’t matter, women are for groping and “treating like shit” — the words of our soon to be president — white men run the show, truth doesn’t matter, dark money calls the shots.

We’re all shaped by the social and cultural environment in which we grow up. For me, that was the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 when I was ten, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, the race-driven murders of Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, and so many more, the bombing of the Birmingham church, the Viet Nam war. Finally, a great moral revolution took hold and brought civil rights, the women’s movement, respect for LGBTQ rights, and more open questioning of the use of military power. The white male world began to give way, and the culture made places for people like Gwen Ifill, who in turn made places for others. The culmination was our election of President Obama, twice.

The optics, and the decisions, will be very different for Archie and Else. All of us who love them will have to work very hard to instill different values from what they see around them. In that perhaps we can look to black families and the black church, both of which have been instilling strong values in their young despite the white disdain that has clearly not diminished much with time.

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