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I had an interesting conversation today about what African American women looked like in the 1950s with some of my Caucasian friends.  The context was in consideration of offering some diversity to an advertisement and they assumed if we put a black woman on there she would look like “Aunt Jemima” because there was still discrimination back then (there is still discrimination today in case anyone missed it ). I replied that my grandmother (who had a Masters degree by the 1950s and so did my grandfather) looked just as classy as the white woman in the picture and was not cleaning anyone’s houses then.  She had a bridge club, was having tea, an active member of her church….and oh she and my grandfather had a cross burned in their yard for taking other African American’s in their car (that they owned) to vote.  They didn’t look like slaves!

I don’t know whether to be surprised or not.  Since I moved back to the south I have had frequent moments of surprise by the lack of education that people have…and they wonder why people think the way they do about southerners.  I’m proud of my southern heritage because it taught me to say “please” and “Thank You” as well as some other necessary manners.  People are genuinely friendly regardless of the color of your skin and the slow pace of life is amazing, but good grief… the lack of willingness to understand others, failure to explore where stereotypes come from and discount them as well as go along with stereotypes/assumptions is overwhelming.  I guess that’s why I do diversity work….right?  It will never cease to amaze me when this is the response I get from college educated people.  I still love my friends though and will continue to enlighten them, therefore I sent them the above pictures to spread the word and expand their horizons a bit. :-)

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