Whenever I hear or see the term WHITE POWER, my mind wanders back to these types of vintage photos from the civil rights era — white boys in buzz cuts chanting the N-WORD, waving Confederate flags, and demanding that segregation be upheld.
I often wonder, what happened to these boys?
In a Disney+ kind of mindset, we let go of reality and allow ourselves to believe that when the laws changed, these boys — these white boys — changed as well. They saw the errors of their ways, invited the blacks into their churches, businesses, teams, sleepover, and lives. All was right in the world again.
But let’s be honest — change is a motherfucker.
When I think of them — these white boys — maybe they want us to forget about them, allowing their hateful words and despicable actions to sit on the shelves to collect dust? They want to be forgotten.
But if you listen hard, you can hear the words:
“That was a long, long time ago.”
“Times were different then.”
“They didn’t know better.”
“Boys will be boys.”
There are always band aid explanations for the hard times that no one wants to discuss.
I imagine skinheads from American History X or Ku Klux Klan members giving the Nazi salute with swastikas and Confederate flags floating in the background; I don’t think of an old man driving a golf cart in a gated community.
But I shouldn’t be surprised at the scene. He was once a boy, like these white boys, holding up signs and flags and yelling WHITE POWER. The truth is, he has been doing this for a long, long time. He is an expert at such things. For too long it has been taboo to do or say such things, but it’s different now. The climate is raw like it once was in the South. His heart is racing like when he was a school boy. That childhood courage from the days he played ding-dong ditch is bubbling back inside. He can commit immature actions and run away feeling like in some adolescent way that he had somehow accomplished or won something for his side. But again, history has caught him repeating despicable deeds he may have committed decades ago.
Don’t be surprised when an old man says WHITE POWER. Those old men are still those white boys we all knew them to be.