As for my personal experiences I feel that I was a fool.
Racism was/is still real in some parts of the South. I grew up in a suburb not far from a large university. From the time I started school in the early 50's we were taught good values. That is what the community supported. I knew that it was wrong to be unkind to others for any reason--I didn't know exactly why African Americans were 'hated'---my relatives in a more rural area would make crude comments that sounded 'bad' to me.
They never have exactly explained how they came to feel this way--regular church goers, etc--but I didn't want to be that sort of person--it didn't make sense.
Then came the more militant 70's and serious problems arose over inequality--Federal lawsuits against school systems and monitoring, including massive paperwork were required to document every decision. You could no longer hug a child without concern that a legal incident would result--things like that.
I taught on a team with 3 African American women. 2 of the teachers had been recruited from elementary---I suppose they were found to have exceptional skills that would be utilized more fully in middle school. They were competent teachers---one taught Math and the other Social Science. I later found out that the Social Science teacher had wanted Language Arts and the man I replaced had insisted that he be allowed to teach that subject. I would have enjoyed Social Science---a lot less paperwork for one thing. The other teachers would leave each day around 3:30 PM---the normal end of the day for teachers at this school--it began at 7:30--and we started at 7AM.
I was there until 5 or 6 PM each evening---preparing for the next day. 4 or 5 classes--25+ students per class. Most were functioning well below grade level--no support services in this system for remediation.
Truly a nearly impossible challenge and I wish I had just said--'No'. Contractually, I had no choice--if I wanted a job.
I can't change the color of my skin---and something is wrong if you cannot perform a job because of your skin color. That will never be brought to light.
I wish I had the determination of the Federal employee who fought her case to the bitter end. There was 'nothing' I could do--resign and find another career.
Shirley Sherrod---certainly there is a good ol' boy system in parts of the South---but to be included in the hatred of such people is a bit extreme. That is sometimes the reality---what this did to my family is a story that will never be told. I will continue to live my life my my values--I am somewhat civilized --even if this seems to be beyond others--for all kinds of reasons. A young man and his partner discussed me as we waited in line to check out at Walmart--rude, yes. 'She seems tired--must be that purse'---'I feel sorry for old people that have to come to Walmart.' I finally told him to shut his mouth---just be as crude as you want to be---then don't complain when others treat you the same.
Yes, I was tired---I have health problems from a high level of stress---it took a lot of work to pull myself back together but I did it. So if a 20 yr old in Walmart must make smart remarks--I suppose I can recover from that, too.
The US is said to be a 'Youth Oriented Culture'--which is fine--if common courtesy is still a value that is included in the standards of the culture. I suppose some exercise 'freedom of speech'--I am 'Me'--I can say whatever pops into my head--no need to think first. hurray---Most people aren't like this, thankfully--but the few seem to wield considerable power.