Let’s talk about “the good old days.”
Mom and Dad — and probably Grandma and Grandpa, too — have undoubtedly bored the kids over and over with tales of the “good old days.” After all, they were good, so why not relive them?
Why not? Maybe because good is subjective.
A number of developments at the national and local level have us considering what made the good old days good in the first place.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the editorial board of Eastern Arizona Courier is culturally diverse as well as being diverse by gender. Which means the “old days” for each member of the board was significantly different.
For example, being a middle class (albeit lower middle class) white male in the Midwest 40 years ago will result in a significantly different experience than being a Hispanic female in a predominantly white community in Arizona.
Of course, things were good in the “good old days” for one of us — one person’s parents weren’t prevented from certain jobs or promotions, one person’s parents weren’t prevented from buying a home in certain areas, one person’s parents weren’t discouraged from voting, one person’s parents weren’t stopped by the police for DWB (driving while brown).
Not sharing the same experience doesn’t make a person a racist, but it can lead to ignorance. After all, how can one truly understand the struggle if one hasn’t gone through it personally?
Which leads us to Hobby Lobby's taking fire for selling cotton bolls as home décor.
We totally understand why African-Americans would take umbrage at the idea of a symbol of their repression being bandied about as if it has no cultural impact whatsoever. But there’s no denying that cotton remains and important American crop — especially so here in the Gila Valley — and celebrating agriculture doesn’t mean the chain of stores is making a cultural statement against blacks.
That is, if this were any other chain besides Hobby Lobby, which tried to use “religious freedom” as an excuse to deny female employees birth control as part of health-care packages. So we’re not quite ready to give the benefit of the doubt to the store in this case.
We are, however, willing to do so in the case of a new local store that gotten the “side eye” from a number of local African Americans over its choice of name. We’d like to think the decision on the name was made solely because the owners’ experience didn’t involve struggling against racism that area black and Hispanic residents had to deal with for generations.
And that leads us to Civil War memorials. We’ve talked about this issue before — how many of the memorials weren’t created just after the war but were erected during the dying days of Jim Crow, when Southern Democrats were bristling at federal mandates to desegregate. The statues to American traitors (and let’s face it — that’s exactly what the Confederacy was) served as a reminder to blacks that not everyone — even 100 years later — was all that happy about the end to slavery, and that racism — including institutional racism — is alive and well.
See what we mean about good being subjective?
Instead of trying to recapture “the good old days” that were, in all likelihood, not very good for a significant number of people, let’s focus on making this the good new days. You know, where everyone has the same opportunity to have a good life.