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Elderly Black Folks & the So-Called Good Ole Days

When the black elderly people speak of the “good ole days” they are smiling and laughing exchanging story after story between one another, but when the conversation changes to present day and someone mentions “the young people” there is an instant attitude. They start casting blame as if young people just suddenly appeared and started wrecking havoc. The older black Americans seem to disconnect themselves from the younger black Americans and will not take any responsibility for the contributions they made in the mass destruction of many African American communities that some of the young blacks are spray painting and hustling in now. They say, “Why should we? Young people don’t care about anything!” Who made them that way? Was it the father who ran off with another man’s wife while cheating on his own wife and eventually settled in a white neighborhood? Was it the mother who tried to keep two jobs while her son was being watched by God knows who? Was it the grandmother who enjoyed drinking more than spending time with her grandchildren? Was it the father who committed crimes and spent the majority of his life in and out of prison, because getting an education ‘wasn’t cool and the white man had his foot on his neck?’ ”

Were these once youthful men and women, who are now elderly, primarily responsible for not teaching their children and grandchildren how to care for and maintain their communities? When these people, who grew up during the “good ole days,” had opportunities to attend trade schools or colleges, did they do it? And if they did, why didn’t they stay true to their own communities rather than trying to integrate with other races in other communities? Why do they not accept responsibility for their lack of influence and education to teach the generation following them?
There is so much ignorance evident in these conversations of “the good ole days.” Take the time to listen to the elderly African American discussions regarding young people today. They complain about “how the parents just aren’t raising them.” They talk as if they have no impact or influence on their grandchildren. For those who can make a difference, they say, “I don’t want to be bothered…I’m too old.” The young people try to reach out and they are greeted with eye rolls, heavy sighs, and sometimes yelling, “Don’t touch my…stay off my…” Too busy worrying over material things rather than the souls of the young people in their families. For other elderly African Americans, they are all too willing to do what they can to help young people. Then of course, there are those who could care less and have nothing to say about any of these societal issues.

It’s because of these elderly black people who obsess with “the good ole days” is why they haven’t done much in the present day. They keep hoping for a train that stopped coming a long time ago. They keep wishing for the day “when we use to and we had to…”and while they’re hoping and praying, the young people are surrounding them like vultures waiting to pick them clean when they pass! For what good is it to be alive if these “good ole days” preachers are doing nothing more than complaining about the present day. They don’t bother teaching, they don’t want to listen, they think they know-it-all (just like the young people they claim they try to talk to), and even worse they hold on to their dollars for frivolous things (and talk about how young people don’t save any money – the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! Now does it?)

To group every young person and their parents in one category is lazy thinking, ignorant and unfair. Some children grew up being whipped for their actions while others weren’t. In some cases punishment made a difference in their lives and in other cases it didn’t! Yet, try to convince your aging grandparent that your mother or father did the best they could with you. They will converse with you as if you don’t know what you are talking about and will ridicule your parents whether they were good or bad. They will almost brag about how hard they had it and how you don’t know any better. Attempt to challenge them on their ignorant statements and watch an ugly attitude appear on their faces, then they will grow angry, and will provide you with vague information about their past. There is a hidden jealousy amongst these old-timers when they look at their children and their children’s children. Some of these miserable old people can’t stand when you delve deeper into their history. You see, they are still running scared like their mothers and fathers who were born into slavery. They are afraid that if you learn too much about them you will judge them. They know that knowledge is power and they fear that a young person with that kind of power will disrespect them (unfortunately some will.)

Most of these older African Americans mentioned in this article are in their late
70s and older at the time of this writing. Their history is far different than those who will be following their age group. With each passing generation, life can only get better in health, business, lifestyle and more. Most of you who are 40 and younger haven’t experienced or witnessed the kind of racism that your parents or grandparents grew up with. So recent generations could actually have their share of many “good ole days” stories to tell, which would be far more interesting than the five mile walk to school tales.

Hopefully, the slavery mentality, slave diet, black racism, light skin/dark skin thinking, drunkenness, drugs, gambling, and cheating will be buried in record numbers with these “good ole days” thinkers. For we cannot afford to keep this negative, oppressive type of thinking amongst our people!

Written by Nicholl McGuire

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