The progress we’ve made since 1967
A look back at what has changed since the Globe’s founding
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Let me set the scene for you: 1967, the year the Globe debuted, was at the tail end of the Civil Rights movement, during the second wave of white feminism, and before the Stonewall riots. It was a time of historical movements that stemmed from people trying to improve their livelihoods, obtain equal rights and claim their own identities.
The thing is, someone 50 years from now could also use that last sentence to describe 2017.
I started to consider how the Globe and our society has changed these past 50 years when I read a Globe article from March 6, 1969 entitled “The Power to Define” by James L. Saylor.
He discussed “the extinction of black identity” during that time and how, what he defined as white America, took control of the right to define black people’s role in society. Saylor wanted black people, including himself, to have the opportunity to define their own purpose in the world.
The ability to establish who you are is crucial for human beings, especially in a world bombarded by media and advertisements that attempt to tell you who you should be.
The specific rights that current movements are fighting for have evolved as the culture in our society changed. However, the core of all of our movements today are no different than what Saylor was suggesting to readers in 1969.
The Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March and the LGBT communities are trying to define their own role in the world. They are fighting back against the stereotypes and misconceptions about themselves on a daily basis that curtail their freedoms and cause them pain and misfortune.
Each movement is tailored to the rights that the individual groups have been denied in recent years. Through intersectionality and determination, these groups are attempting to achieve their goals.
Many of our history books claim that we have already obtained equal rights and our chance to set our own standards, but that is not the case for these people in the United States.
Our struggles are concealed and more complex than they once were, but they are not gone. People are being placed neatly back into their stereotypes and reminded that they already have their equal rights.
Just as Saylor did in 1969 in order to take control of his black identity, people of color, women and members of the LGBT community must gain the power to construct their own identities.
If we allow white, straight, cisgender male America to monopolize our identities, then we lose everything that we have worked for.
While our strides in social justice are not as complete as our history books claim, we cannot afford to lose this progress. Within these past 50 years we have taken baby steps towards our goal of equal rights for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The United States has managed to keep the expectations and standards for these people the same since the 1960s.
On the positive side, despite the fact that we have not improved these standards, we have made tremendous advancements in technology.
Our ability to access social media and have our messages reach the entire world has given us a better chance of fighting back against the definitions that have been created for us.
In 50 years, I hope that people will look back on our archives and see that we, like Saylor, have continued to defend ourselves against the limitations placed upon us and that we did not allow ourselves to be defined by the America that stands before us.
We are more than our stereotypes, and we should not let the world ignore that.