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What Has Changed?

What has changed?

In 1970 I turned 13. In 2020, I’ll turn 63. There has been a world of change since I began my teenage years. I remember seeing Captain James T. Kirk take a device out of his pocket, flip it open, then communicate with Lt. Uhura back on the Enterprise. We never would have thought that almost everyone on planet earth today would own a cell phone that practically handles all our communication needs. Making phone calls, sending text messages, watching videos, getting emails, checking our banking information, and even recording events as they happen live.

Modern technology has made our lives a bit more interesting. It has made it easier for the world to connect. Instead of waiting several days for a letter to arrive from a distant location, we can video chat with anyone in the world in a matter of a few clicks. This is great, right? Life should be a breeze. However, modern technology in some ways has taken us back to the stone ages. With the ability to easily communicate with each other, some have lost the willingness to do a simple thing like talking to one another. I’ve seen people sitting in the same room using text messaging to communicate instead of face to face talking. Sure, you may get the words over to the other party, but are you truly communicating the feelings that go alone with the words?

The United States of America has long had issues when it comes to race relations. One of the biggest crimes to humanity occurred when slave masters would not allow slaves to continue to live as they did before they were brought to this country. Their names were changed to suit their masters and show ownership. Even though they were forced to learn the English language, slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write. Slave families were even disbanded if the slave master thought their unity caused problems or if the slave master felt he could get a good price for his goods. Because the attitude of superiority is so embedded in the American culture, dismantling this attitude is not an easy task.

Racial tension in 2020 has reached an all-time high. Even though we’ve had tension for hundreds of years, 2020 is year we reached a tipping point. Breonna Taylor was killed in Louisville, Kentucky in March by police officers who were supposed to be on a drug raid. It was almost 3 months later before national attention was brought to this case. The Attorney General’s office in Kentucky finally addressed the media in September with a grand jury finding that shocked the nation. No officer was held accountable for the death of Ms. Taylor.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd was killed while in the custody of four police officers after an arrest. Because of modern technology, Floyd’s last eight minutes and forty-six seconds of life was recorded for all the world to see. The world did see and became outraged. Fortunately, all officers involved were arrested for what appeared to be an intentional use of force that caused the death. The world now awaits to know the outcome of the judicial system’s handling of this case.

As a new teenager in the early 1970s, my concerns centered around homework, sports, and fitting in. As I near my 63rd birthday, my concerns center around justice and equality. I’ve come to realize that my parents and grandparents had the same concerns at this time in their lives. Even though much has changed in our society, there’s a lot that’s still the same. Will there ever truly be change?

Thomas McLaurin

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