The Golden Times: What happened?

Casey Thomas | 7/28/2014, 12:32 p.m.
As I have gotten older, I have begun to appreciate music from the 70’s. I have become a fan of ...
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

As I have gotten older, I have begun to appreciate music from the 70’s. I have become a fan of Maze and Frankie Beverly. One song that I thought about as I sat down to write this article was Golden Time of Day. It begins with a smooth, relaxing sound with the guitar playing and the drums to follow. It starts out with “There’s a time of the day when the sun is going down. That‘s the golden time of day.” This made me begin to think of a golden time of day for Black people in America. That was during the early 70’s.

The Civil Rights Act had passed and was in the process of being fully implemented. The Voting Rights Act was becoming accepted as the law of the land. Many Blacks who were stuck in the cities across the country were now able to take advantage of job opportunities that an education afforded them. The Fair Housing Act made it possible to live wherever you could afford and also exposed deep-seated racism and hatred that existed in areas that previously were off-limits to Black people.

Affirmative action laws forced businesses and companies to hire qualified Blacks who otherwise would have been overlooked for employment and showed managers that, given the opportunity, Blacks could not only succeed in their jobs at entry level but could be very good managers and executives.

There were happy feelings in the air within Black America. Blacks were beginning to take advantage of their new-found political power and began to elect mayors, city councilpersons, state representatives and even in some places, U.S. senators. Not only did people they elected look like them, they also were from the very same neighborhood or community.

So what happened? There are many books and studies that address this very issue. I am reading one currently entitled, Stuck in Place. The truth of the matter is many people who grew up in low-income neighborhoods were left behind by their neighbors who could afford to move. As more factories began to close down and less opportunities became available, families began to suffer as a result of this. Husbands were not able to be the breadwinner anymore and this became too much for some of them to take.

While we often talk about those who have made it out, rarely do we discuss those who did not. We have generations of people who grew up in low-income housing and are, unfortunately, still there. Children who are born today live a few apartments over from their grandmother. In some cases, people have become conditioned to living in that environment. If it was good enough for Big Momma, it should be good enough for them.

Contrary to popular belief, projects were never meant to be a permanent solution for any one family. It was an opportunity for a family to receive government assistance and support until they were able to “get back on their feet” and receive the type of income that would allow for them to provide for their family. We have made a permanent situation into something that was intended to be temporary.

If we truly want to go “back to the future” and recreate the “golden years” we have to be honest about the condition that we currently live in and make some long-term changes to how we live our lives. I have come to realize that you can only help someone who wants to help themselves. No matter how hard you try, until an individual wants better for themselves, nothing will change that. I am more than willing to provide a hand for someone who wants help, but I refuse to be a crutch for someone who doesn’t want to walk on their own. Let’s continue to be supportive to one another without them becoming dependent on us.