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The Little Rock Nine The Little Rock Nine
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-23 09:40:40
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What happened in Little Rock Central High School in 1957, in the US state of Arkansas I think is well known in many ways, including a number of films and books either for the Little Rock Nine or from references to the events.

The US Supreme Court issued a historic decision declaring all laws establishing segregate schools to be unconstitutional and it called for the desegregation of all the schools through USA. After the decision the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) started registering black students to previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South states of the US. One of these schools was Little Rock Central High and the black students registered were nine.

A number of white-parent’s councils decided to protest and to their help came the governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus with the National Guard, blocking the students from entering the school starting a crisis that soon escalated into a national crisis that got President D. Eisenhower involved. The pictures of the students guarded from American Marines while entering the high school have often become a reference to civil rights movements.

After the president’s involvement and the US army’s assistance the students attended school becoming a symbol of standing against racism and discrimination. Of course their problems didn’t stop despite the fact of the protection, each was always accompanied by a soldier all the hours inside high school; white students and parents often attacked them verbally, even physically testing their tolerance.

These were the historical facts as I’ve read them since I haven’t got any personal experience or testimony from the period or the people who witnessed the events. But my question is what has changed since 1957, fifty years after the events? It is my opinion that the only thing that has changed is the globalization – to use contemporary terminology – of racism and prejudice. And, yes, the targets include more minorities nowadays. Nowadays people are scared of the scarf, are scared of religion and unfortunately are still scared of color.

What has change these last fifty years? Nowadays, there is a civil rights museum in the perimeters of the Little Rock Central High but, at the same time, the poorest parts of the American society have a color. What has changed these fifty years? Nowadays, there is no apartheid anywhere in this world but when security sees a man that fulfills their stereotypes of an Arab in an airport everybody starts worrying for a terrorist attack and despite the fact that people from Middle East immigrated to the USA from the middle of the 19th century suddenly they have to hear that this is not their home.

And please don’t think I exclude Europe. Often people from USA escaping from all this came to Europe to find shelter and they did. They found shelter in the 1960s and '70s, but lately things have changed - 9-11 is only the excuse or the tip of the iceberg because racism has been here for longer. After 9-11 things changed radically, suddenly the strongest defenders of human rights left secret agencies to kidnap citizens of their countries and fly them to hell camps like Guantanamo without any question, objection, and voice.

Fifty years after I’m afraid the only thing that has changed is the way we see things and not the way we deal with racism and prejudice. Fifty years after I’m afraid the only thing that has change is the names of the predictors and the victims. Nothing else.

P.S. In my research for the Little Rock High I found that one of the nine, Gloria Ray Karlmark lives in our neighborhood, in Sweden. Something that made me proud for this European country with the highest percent of immigrants in Europe and still defender of civil rights.

    
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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-23 14:32:09
It is indeed appropriate, Mr. Kalamidas, not to forget Europe in our moral indignation. It is appropriate to commemorate sad historical events such as Little Rock, the Holocaust, the Gulags, Wounded Knee, the disappearance of a ship full of refugees off the coast of Sicily of which nobody talked about for years, the genocide in Kosovo while Belgian UN troops looked on; Wako, London’s Nazi blits, Dresden, Hiroshima, the turning of cathedrals into museums, “Chirstophobia” in most of Europe, contempt for tradition, ignorance of the deeper spiritual currents in history that go beyond economic-political issue, 9/11; and the list could easily go on for a couple of pages; LEST WE SICCUMB TO THE-FEAR-THAT- DARES-NOT-SPEAK-ITS-NAME, AND WE FORGET!

What worries me though is not so much the forgetting but the misremembering, i.e., the refusal to ponder and derive lessons for oneself devoid of the eagerness to export one’s new found moral superiority, by erecting museums and monuments (both physical and mental) to these phenomena to then move on with the business of life. What is even more disturbing is the confusing of celebration with commemoration. Lest we forget, on 9/11 in some quarters, in both West and East there was dancing in the street going on. It is that kind of confusion which provides ammunition and fuels the anti-Western feelings of a Bin Laden and his cohorts of haters of Westerner civilization, as is well examined in the book “Occidentalism.” For that we only have ourselves to blame.


Jack2007-09-23 17:47:56
As long as people are around, so too will be discrimination. It may not be as openly blatant, but exists nonetheless in police's Racial Profiling, applying for credit or home ownership, and many other ways. It is just harder to spot with the naked eye. Reason being it hids, deep within human hearts [certainly not all humans] where no eye can see nor ear hear.


sha2008-03-20 20:22:46
this dont make no sense


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