I just watched some old video of Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. A nostalgic treat and pretty darn funny. But it was unsettling to see each group of kids as being either only white or only people of color. Never were the races mixed (except that the non-white group included both African-Americans and Hispanics). Each group came from a local California public school, obviously segregated. Then the brainy boys got telescopes and microscopes for gifts while America’s future housewives got make-up kits and baby dolls –and the black girls got white baby dolls! (I’ll bet the make-up was the wrong shade, too.)
I have dear friends and family members that refuse to see that, no matter when their ancestors immigrated to America or where they immigrated from, that just by being ‘white’ ( or even better – a white male) has given them a tremendous and undeserved advantage in their search for “life, liberty and happiness”. They may deny the written history or the words of those who advocate social justice – they may even ridicule the concept of social justice, claiming it is only politico-speak for socialism and big government. But I defy them to watch some (not so) old television programming like this and still be blind to the painful truth.
I wonder (and suspect) that Art Linkletter, as he interviewed one segregated group of children after another, was aware of this all too obvious American social problem. After all, he didn’t have to invite black and Hispanic kids onto the show. Maybe what looks today like sixties tokenism was actually his (not so) subtle way of pointing out America’s ingrained racism. Maybe.