Modern America and the Myth of Progress

Last week, news outlets and social media were on fire when news broke that Kylie Jenner was pregnant with the baby of rapper Travis Scott. Excitement for the 20 year old mom to be was tangible, and individuals on social media immediately began to display our generation’s capacity to imagine the intimate aspects of someone else’s personal life. Articles surmising how it happened began to pop up everywhere. That week, the Jenner’s and Travis Scott received millions of dollars worth of social media impressions.

As I witnessed all of the talk surrounding something that realistically shouldn’t spur so much excitement in my opinion, I had a funny thought.

Sixty two years ago, a black boy from the north was lynched by white men in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in a store. His act was perceived as the ultimate sin. For Emmett to even hint at any sort of attraction to a white woman was blasphemous. We all know what happened next.

A loose accusation on that afternoon in August cost him his life.

Eight years later, Martin Luther King gave his I have a dream speech, in which he shared his vision in which black boys and white girls would be able to join hands and drink together from the fountain of prosperity.

Which brings me to my point.

The great grandparents of black men and women today would look at the news, and tears might well up in their eyes at the fact that a white woman is pregnant with a black mans child, and the man wouldn’t be killed. Emmet lost his life for far less.

This is the myth of progress — and it’s a dangerous one.

To anyone analyzing a collection of historical events, it might feel safe to assume that racism is “gone” because it’s okay for black people and white people to be together now.

I agree, progress has been made — I’ll never deny that, but there are some things we can’t forget.

There’s still a dangerous amount of racism in America.

African American’s are still incarcerated at rates that have decimated inner cities.

Police brutality still divides our communities, and police officers like Jeronimo Yanez still get acquitted when the pump people like Philando Castille full of bullets while his wife and child watch.

Barack Obama said it best. Racism isn’t over just because people are polite enough not to say “nigger” in public anymore.


Congratulations to Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.

But we need to cure ourselves of any delusions of “progress” we might be convinced of.

Culture writer featured in Noteworthy, The Writing Cooperative, USA Today & Olustories. Comedian & Musician. Thinker.

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