As we see racism pop up its ugly head every day in tweets from The Donald; I am reminded that it was eighty-six years ago in 1936, that “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was first published. A romantic novel about lost causes, the book was transferred to film in loving detail for the unwashed masses who to this day long for the “good old days.” It does make one wonder if certain topics weren’t romanticized if the public would be more inclined to let go of bad ideas. Bad ideas like racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy.
The book was rated in a Harris poll in 2014 to be the second most popular book in the world, just behind the Bible. The film was a resounding success and won all of the awards possible including the first Academy Award won by a Black actor. The movie was seen by everyone that could get to a theater and was an annual event for most families when television began broadcasting it over the airwaves.
Though the tone of the movie was not as dark and cynical as “Birth of a Nation” all of the now familiar tropes were there. Lazy, shiftless Black men who were solely concentrated on deflowering our genteel southern belles. Offset the shiftless men with the compassion and long-suffering strength of the ultimate female protector, the Black nanny. The Black female that could be trusted with not only our children but the family’s deepest darkest secrets.
Logic is completely dispelled when one tries to reconcile the overwhelming fear of the members of one sex as opposed to the absolute trust given to the other. Do we just assume that the surrogate mothers raising the white children were not applying the same methods and ideologies on their own children? The mind boggles as to how we can ascribe certain qualities to a race of people just because it is more convenient than getting to know the actual person.
And yet here we are, nearly one hundred years from the birth of one of the most revered books of all time and we still can’t address its fallacies.
Like the members of the Royal family, most rednecks, and they’re not all in the South, believe that they have racial superiority because of Divine Right. They won the birth lottery and “cain’t nobody” take white right from them. As bad as their life might become, as bad as they may fail, at least they’re not the “other.” God picked them out of the assembly line, painted them white and determined that they would always be the premiere model.
Of course, I’m joking, a little. But even the most “woke” redneck can justify voting for Republicans by using the economy, crime or taxes while ignoring that those three core issues fluctuate no matter which party is in office. As long as there is an issue to point to other than “we’re being replaced” the “compassionate conservative” can ignore all of the other evils perpetuated by the Republican party and vote for candidates that no longer hide their distaste for democracy. It’s out there in plain sight now, the Republicans have embraced an autocrat that uses hatred and bigotry to stoke up the base. Their fear of color is overwhelming.
I live in a “minority/majority” city. Atlanta was officially a Black majority in the 1970 census. Fifty years of Black mayors and councilmen and we’re still here. We’re not only here, but we’re also thriving. Atlanta is the jewel of the South and opportunities abound for people of all colors and persuasions. In my eyes, the people causing most of the problems are the good old boys who can’t let go of the “good old days.”
To me, an aging white person, the last fifty years have been the good old days.