We haven’t changed that much….

Tonight offered an interesting contrast in social change. I checked this out with my wife and she agreed with me (miracle!).

Her niece’s mother got married tonight and we went to the wedding. Here are my observations. When my wife and I first started going to weddings, the only White guests would be the families for whom the mother of the bride or some such had worked as a domestic for many years. That was in the early 60s.

In the 80s, non-Blacks started showing up who were co-workers, as the work force became integrated and the social changes of the 60s began to catch up to us here in the Phoenix area. Also, this coincided with more and more Blacks achieving a higher standard of living as the job market opened up to them and more became educated. My wife and her generation saw few college graduates, but our children’s generation saw many more college goers.

By the 90s and in the new century, non-Blacks appeared at weddings as family members. That is a huge change. Many Black families now have White members. I was the only one for miles around back in the 60s and 70s. Now, the daughter of the bride has a White husband; the other daughter of the bride had a child by a White man; although she did not marry him (he later died quite young), his family came to the wedding. I had never met them b/c they did not have anything to do with the bride’s granddaughter until the father, their son, became ill.

Here in Arizona, a lot of Hispanics have intermarried with Blacks and there were several Hispanic family members there as well as Hispanic guests from outside the family.

But here is the kicker. I would say that most of the people at this wedding were college graduates. The bride had been a principal of a major high school. Yet out of over 100 wedding guests, just a little over 10% were non-Black. Many of those were family members.

I point this out to show how, at least in the Phoenix area, Black society even at the level where people are educated and have a diverse group of work mates and even live in integrated neighborhoods (usually the Blacks do the integrating), yet at something personal like a wedding, the attendees are overwhelmingly Black. We have to recognize that society is still very much like this, segregated, despite immense changes. It has an effect on children whose role models will continue to be from these groups constructed out of the nation’s past. As educators, we must take this into account, no matter how many Black Goths or Black skaters we see or how many Black kids listen to rock (I still cannot get over that), for the vast majority of Black students, their socialization occurs in a Black environment. Barack Obama’s upcoming presidency will not change that.

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