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Change begins with individuals

Black history has been recognized in February since 1926, first as the second week, now during the entire month. Now is a good time for everyone to take a few moments to reflect on how blacks have been treated through the years and how far they’ve come today.

Fifty years ago, blacks and whites were still segregated in schools. It wasn’t until 1954 during the Brown v. Board of Education court case that the Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. However, the ruling wasn’t enforced until 1971 when integration laws were made. To this day, battles continue in universities about whether admissions policies cater to one race.

In 1967, the Supreme Court abolished anti-interracial marriage laws, but it wasn’t until 2000 that Alabama removed a part of its constitution that prohibited them. Today, a New York Times poll shows that 1 in 20 marriages are between interracial couples in America. However, many in such relationships speak out, saying they still are met with hostility and strange looks from others.

It’s the year 2003, and reports still come in of discrimination in the workplace against blacks. Last month, a black man in Minnesota filed a suit against his company for giving a promotion to a white male he thought was less qualified. He also accused the company of having an all-white upper management. The case is set for trial.

Besides discrimination, hate crimes and racial slurs are reported daily on the news.

True, the situation has improved. These days, a black man won’t be lynched for looking at a white woman the wrong way, many laws protect blacks from being discriminated against and people of both races are allowed to use the same public facilities.

In the past 50 years, America has come a long way. However, there is still room for improvement. This change begins with individuals.

Everyone should take some time this month to observe their actions and then honestly examine them. Is it okay to look twice at an interracial couple? Is it normal to be extra cautious when around someone with dark skin? Does associating with people of one race mean that there are feelings of superiority present?

An honest answer to these questions may reveal for many the need to reexamine their actions and make an effort to regard people of all races as equal.