Editorial: America in Black & White

Editorial: America in Black & White

Growing up in America in the 1950s and 1960s, many children watched television only in black and white. Some children believed that the world beyond where they could see was only black and white, devoid of color even though their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, their crayon boxes were filled with colors.

Families watched “The Wizard of Oz” annually on television in black and white. While some parents and grandparents may have remembered the awe and wonder of seeing Dorothy step out of her twister ravaged, black and white home into a Technicolor world, the children had never seen “The Wizard of Oz” on a movie screen. Although the children could appreciate that something new and different was happening to Dorothy, they couldn’t experience that for themselves. Imagine the exhilaration, and the shock, of seeing “The Wizard of Oz” for the first time on a color TV. Imagine the bewilderment of parents and grandparents at the reaction of those children. “Do you mean, you never knew that Oz was a world of many colors?”

Such was the realization in watching the televised images from the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. This monochromatic view is what many Americans had been seeing on television, at the movies, in the news. Americans were seeing a black and white America, devoid of color, and came to expect, if not accept, that leaders can’t be women and people of color, even though their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools are filled with strong and courageous women, and strong and courageous people of color. American women and Americans of color know what is happening at each presidential inauguration, but until the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, people of color could not experience that for themselves.

Imagine the shock of seeing a world of many colors when you have been raised in black and white. There were some Americans who were content to continue to watch television in black and white, and who could not see the sense of spending more money on a color TV, but eventually every American began watching television in color. Some may have waited until their black and white televisions were broken and could not be repaired or replaced in kind, but once they experienced color television for themselves, they accepted, and expected, a more vibrant and realistic view of the world.

Imagine the bewilderment at the televised images from the inauguration of the 45th President among the majority of Americans who thought we had left our black and white mindsets behind and moved, together, into a world of many colors.

The writer is a local freelance reporter and contributor to the Connection Newspapers.