Ruby Bridges Goes to School
Right up there through the history books honoring brave students who lead the integration movement was a kindergartner names Ruby Bridges. Many don’t know a lot about this brave little girl but I think she played a prominent role in the civil rights movement. She had a mother with a dream: for a daughter to have better opportunities than she did. Her mom knew the white school nearby was better than the black schools so she marched holding her daughter’s hand to make a change.
For one little girl entering into their school many parents pulled their kids out of school, threatened her and her family, she had to spend the first day at the principal’s office for protection, and she was put in a class by herself with the only teacher willing to teach her. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as her father lost his job, her grandparents got evicted from their sharecropping farm, and even the grocery store stoped selling goods to her mom. All this didn’t deter her and she kept going to school until more black students started enrolling in the school.
Ruby was only in kindergarten and was already civil rights activist through her actions. She had to have four federal Marshall’s escort her to schools through a screaming mob, and she still went to school everyday. Some may say as a kid, she only followed her mom’s orders, but if my mom was moving me away from my friends and sending me to a school like that, I would have thrown so many tantrums, that she would have no choice but to let me back into my old school.
The Emmett Till story is very heart wrenching for me because it showed how cruel the Jim Crow Era really was. For a young boy to be tortured to such an extreme, and then killed in that manner just because he was accused of just whistling at a white woman. At that point black people were not regarded as humans, because hatred and racism blinded most.
In Southern Horrors Ida B. Wells highlighted that such acts were done just to validate white supremacy and most of the men accused of rape were not given trial, and some were even taken out of jail to be killed. The white people saw it as the only way to restore white rule. In cases where the sexual encounters did occur, they were mostly consensual but the white women in question, were often forced to talk about rape, and if they refused they were shunned. On the other hand, it was perfectly fine for a white man to seduce a black woman as well as they don’t try to marry them.
The worst people in these situations were not those doing the violence and lynching but those who sat there and did nothing- choosing to stay ignorant. Many in the North ignored the true conditions that a lot of black people were going through, and though many black people moved to the North for better opportunities, they still met with racism.
After watching Traces of the Trade two times, I have come to have a deeper understanding of the documentary. Though the documentary has many good layers including showcasing the problem of the deep north and conversations about subjects such as reparations and white privilege. On the other hand, it raised quite a few problems for me that I felt was not properly addressed.
One thing that struck me as odd was how nonchalant everyone seemed when they mention the Adjowa and Belladore nursery rhyme. The rhyme struck me as odd and dark because it ended with Adjowa being pushed down the stairs. It was discussed in passing; well my ancestor gave a slave to his wife as a present, and it turns out she was born on a Monday. It just felt like there was a disconnect between the story, where no one was interested in what really happened to the girls and how they lived.
During the tour of Bristol, one of the women got upset because there were shackles in the room and she felt uncomfortable. It saddened me because in that moment everything became center about her, while no one went to the root of the problem or even wondered what the black people might have felt. If the woman was that upset by being exposed to the little truth, then what might black people be feeling overtime they hear about slavery or encounter racism.
As a native of Ghana, I found it very disrespectful for the family to intrude on the sacred traditions of the festival. Their curiosity and need for closure became more important than understanding common courtesy and respecting boundaries. Even natives don’t stand around to just watch sacred proceeding, it is for those who are directly affiliated with it and not outsiders, so I understood why the black woman didn’t want to acknowledge them.
The Family’s participation in a so-called “slave meal” was pitiful as sad. They were served in fine china and good glasses. It defeated the point of putting yourself in the shoes of the slaves. Instead, to taking time to analyze the meal and go more in-depth, it was kind of skimmed over. During the walk around the abandoned building, some were too jovial for the circumstances and that rubbed me the wrong way.
The documentary was made with good intention the were many hits and misses, and though it achieved a great deal of many things, I don’t think the family put themselves fully into the experience and it was felt throughout the video.