Through the many conversations I’ve had in real life or via social media, I’ve come to realize people have a common thought process on time. The phrase that I keep hearing/reading is as follows:
It’s 2016. Aren’t we past that?
The answer to this question is no, we aren’t past that. In fact, we are far from whatever issue we are discussing because we are still discussing it. Bear in mind, the discussion is worth having because the issue still exists. Issues on race, class, and gender discrimination are still relevant today. However, the deception of time is the perception of being far removed from pertinent because “it’s 2016.”
As I had to tell one person, “Actions may be in the past. Mindset is not.”
The thing people ( a lot of them) miss is mindset has to change. From the dawn of civilization, class has mattered. People have tried to assert themselves over others based on class, race, and gender. Here we are thousands, if not millions, of years later thinking that we have come so far as a society when we are dealing with the same issues from the days of Moses. The children of Israel were slaves. They were thought to be less than the Egyptians simply because of their race (Jewish). Women were heavily thought to be lesser in terms of gender roles. In fact, gender roles were pretty black and white in those days. Although these roles were set in stone, they were not meant to be derogatory.
Fast forward to 2016.
Classicism is more than abundant and can be seen in the opportunities available to those with money as opposed to their poor counterparts. The general mindset of those that are homeless is negative. Anyone on welfare is seen as abusing the system. Racism rears it’s ugly head via racial slurs and overall systemic issues. Women are still thought (by some) to be lesser in terms of ability. They are even subject to the pink tax which allows for taxing women at a higher rate for feminine hygiene products. All of these thoughts are based on stereotypes, misunderstanding (or not knowing circumstances) of situations, and an overall lack of compassion. All of this is happening in 2016 in front of our face, and somehow, we can’t even see it.
Or, should I say we choose not to see.
In the infinite wisdom of 2016, people choose to ignore the issues that are right in front of them. People would rather avoid, discount, or neglect these problems because their limited experience tells them otherwise. We fail, due to lack of trying with some, to see the entirety of these issues. Instead, people live in a fantasy world thinking they don’t exist. Or, they shirk the idea of race, class, and gender discrimination because time tells them these topics were only relevant in the 1800’s. Because it’s just easier that way.
That is the deception of time. Life seems so far away when it’s closer than we think.
Let’s do some simple math.
The 13th amendment abolishing slavery was ratified in 1865. That was 151 years ago. In that time frame, systemic racism was seen through sharecropping, rejection of employment, court cases such as Plessy v Ferguson, and Jim Crow laws. Outside of systemic issues, blatant racism occurred by lynchings, church and bus bombings (this occurred as recently as 2015), use of fire houses on protesters, and racial slurs. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was put into place to end legal segregation, but it did not end segregationist mindset.
That was 52 years ago.
The 19th amendment allowing women to vote was ratified in 1920. That was 96 years ago. This was a landmark victory as women were largely seen as subservient with no voice. As women and minorities were still discriminated against in other areas, including the workforce, the term “affirmative action” was introduced by President Kennedy in 1961. The idea of affirmative action was originally provided by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, and it has continued to evolve. Until Executive Order 11246 was amended by President Lyndon Johnson, women were discriminated against in the workforce. This amendment came about in 1967.
That was 49 years ago.
To this day, women still face differential treatment in the work place as there is a 21 percent wage gap between men and women. Throw in race as a factor, and we can see a wage gap of up to 90 percent for Asian American women as of 2013. Refer to the table below.
Wage gaps and systemic racism play into an overall class problem in America. The lower the job is on the totem poll, like being a janitor, the less respect is given. These people are seen as replaceable due to low skillset. In reality, the janitor is just as important as the CEO as should be treated with the respect. Nonetheless, the CEO will be given more respect because he’s seen as having a higher position. While it’s clear the CEO has important decisions to make, should the janitor be treated as inferior? At the end of the day, both are trying to provide for themselves, and their families.
Doing simple math will tell us the problems our ancestors, great-grandparents, and grandparents faced ended (of a legal nature) a short time ago. If you know anyone that passed away at the ages of 49 0r 52, then chances are you’d say it was an untimely death. So why does it seem like issues of race, class, and gender discrimination are a thing of the past when they just legally ended? Even with the acknowledgement that these issues had to be addressed legally, the question remains.
When these laws were passed, did the mindset of people change?
No, and it’s obvious if we really sit back and take a look at society. Read any comment section discussion racial or gender equality issues. Or, read about welfare recipients. People are pretty candid about their feelings on these subjects. Groups are classified and generalized under one heading. Afterwards, people go on their merry way believing all is right in the world. The reality is these same issues exist. They are our problems. However, we refuse to even acknowledge there is an issue. Here we have proof of issues staring dead at us when we wake up in the morning. Yet, we would rather not talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. It requires them to do some self-inspection and understand their role in society. Maybe you’re not as oppressed as you say. Maybe you’re more privileged than you think.
Sadly, the more time passes on, the more people will be fooled into thinking everyone is treated of an equal nature.
That is the deception of time.