If you read my blogs, you will know that often I get inspiration from what I write here from other places on the internet because of what people seem to be interested in and what I know about the topic. Yesterday, I learned that a politician said something about race relations between blacks and whites in California in the 1960’s and 1970’s that people are questioning, and I realized I need to tell people what I saw. We came back from Morocco in the mid to late 1960’s. My parents were from Oklahoma, but my dad’s job took us to California. In fact, we seemed to live all over California. I went to four different schools in California between also living in Washington State and Oklahoma from my late elementary school time to graduating from high school finally in Oklahoma. When we left Morocco, I had heard about race problems in America, but I thought they were history until I arrived, and there were different climates with the race problems in different places, and I was able to experience them first hand because my dad’s job kept us moving.
There was a lot going on in California. When it came to race, it had nothing to do with segregation, but to do with the Black Panthers and black power. The whites were not the problem. It was radical blacks that caused the trouble. There were blacks that were normal people too. They weren’t all Black Panthers. The Black Panthers even caused fear in the hearts of the black people in California. The whites and blacks both were being intimidated by the Black Panthers. No one could accuse the whites of treating the blacks or anyone else bad in California at the time.
The people in California have always been very accepting of everyone and everything. In fact, they are so accepting that the big hippie community was at Hade Ashbury in California during this time. The first gay community was in San Francisco in this time period in California too. Californians just let anything happen, and the only time they speak out is if the others don’t just let anything happen. The people in California don’t draw any lines, and especially, the whites didn’t where the blacks are concerned. It was the radical blacks drawing lines. If the Californians had known how to draw lines, the fiasco of a whole colony from California going to northern South America and killing themselves would never have happened. Some guy named George Jones started a cult in California, and it grew so huge he convinced them all to follow him to South America and start a colony, and then he convinced them all to kill themselves. They all drank poisoned Koolaide. An American politician went to check on them and got himself shot and killed too. If the people in California could figure out where to draw the right lines, all those people would never have died. However, with not drawing lines between blacks and whites, they were right. They may be mistaken about many things in California, but no one should ever be judged or treated badly because of the color of their skin.
In San Jose Middle School in California, the young people were walking around holding hands. They couldn’t drive, so they really couldn’t date, but it didn’t mean that they didn’t pair off. In a lot of ways, they didn’t understand what they were doing. Some boy I didn’t know came up to me and asked me if I would go steady with his friend, and I had no idea who his friends was, and in many ways, I had a head on my shoulders, so of course, I said “no.” It didn’t mean I didn’t have my irrational crushes too. There was a new oriental boy who got on my bus one morning. I thought he was the best looking guy I had ever seen! I almost fell through the floor when he tapped me on the shoulder wanting to talk to me in my Art class. I told my friend about him, and she agreed that he was very good looking, and the next thing you know, she had asked him to go steady and they were holding hands. The blacks and whites were walking around holding hands together too. Usually it was the black guys and the white girls. I noticed that the white guys didn’t mix with the black girls as much as the black guys did with the white girls.
We were living on Hamilton Air Force Base. I went to school off base. My next door neighbor was my age, but her parents wouldn’t allow her to come to the same school I attended. However, she and I spent a lot of time together playing games and visiting, Her parents thought I was different and could be trusted, but she wasn’t allowed to play with just anyone. It seems that has always been what people have thought of me, that I can be trusted. You see, her dad was a black American, and her mother was a Polish woman, a white woman. My friend had to attend a private school because the Black Panthers didn’t agree with her parents being married and didn’t like that she was of mixed race. She was in danger from the Black Panthers. She had been taken out of public schools and enrolled in a private school on base to protect her because she had received threatening notes from the Black Panthers. The threats must have been very real because her parents hardly left the base because they were scared.
There was a library just off base that I went to occasionally. It was close enough that my mulatto friend’s parents took her there sometimes too. (If you know don’t know, a mulatto is a half black, half white person.) We were all in shock when we heard that Angela Davis, one of the leaders of the Black Panthers, had blown the library up. She was on the run from the police. If we were driving down the street, and from the car window next to us came a big black fist shooting up into the air, we knew it was the “black power” sign. It thrust fear through all our hearts. We knew to stay as far from that car as we could.
If anyone ever says to you that the schools in California were segregated in the 1960’s and 1970’s, they are lying. Californians don’t draw lines. However, there were problems with race in California during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Black Panthers were thugs. They had everyone scared. It wasn’t the people in charge in the schools and government offices that were causing the trouble. It wasn’t the students in the schools causing trouble. It wasn’t the normal person on the street causing trouble, but it was the Black Power movement. It was big in California. If anyone went to a special school, it was because they were forced into it by the Black Panthers. This was only the climate in California. There was a whole different climate in race relations in Oklahoma and Washington State in the 1960’s and 1970’s. America is big. Just one state is often larger than one country in other parts of the world. Each state has their own history, their own culture, their own attitudes and ways of doing things. If I say something about one state. It doesn’t mean the rest of America was that way.