Endurance of racism
In this closing excerpt, Jeter says that her niece graduated from Chapel Hill High School two years before the time of this interview (maybe in 1999) and that "nothing has changed." She thinks racism endures in America. Like some other interviewees, Jeter seems to have become less optimistic about the potential for racial change as she has grown older.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
BG: Is there, is there anything else you can think of that, you want to share, any questions I haven’t asked you that you have the desire to express yourself about?
GRJ: Hmmm. (Pause) I don’t, I would like to (pause). One thing. My niece went to, Chapel Hill High School, and she graduated from there and she was as unhappy about going to school at Chapel Hill High School seemingly as I was. And that’s 30 years later. She’s, this is her second year at [indistinguishable].
BG: So she graduated two years ago.
BG: So what, are you saying to me, I don’t have the words for --
GRJ: -- that nothing has changed.
BG: It hasn’t changed.
GRJ: I don’t think so. (pause) And that, is, that is tragic. That is, that is tragic that nothing has changed. (pause) Because we ought to be able to change. This is a wonderful country. We ought to be able to get over this – (pause) I mean, we just ought to be able to get PAST racism, we ought to be able to get past this color. We ought to be able to say, that we embrace everybody. And we do so, I mean I know you can’t, I know we won’t every be able to say we do it equally, because I don’t think, I don’t necessarily think everybody is the same, cause you can’t treat everybody the same. I think there are individual differences, but we ought to be able to say, we no longer base it on race. We base it on merit. Or, hell, base it on looks if you want to, but just don’t base it, solely on, the color of somebody’s skin. And the thing that, that, is really sad, and I think it’s the thing that, everybody in this country, black people and white people, need to realize, by continuing racism, we deny ourselves, as a group, as a country, opportunities to get ahead. We hold back the ENTIRE nation when we perpetrate this racism. Because there are a lot of very talented, smart, brilliant, engineers, scientists, people that can do wonderful things that would help the entire country, that would help EVERYbody. But we, hold back and we refuse to allow these people to, be the best that they could be, because of the color of their skin. It’s, it’s, now that’s, that I think it just, horrible. And it’s something that we, this is, this is 2000. We ought to be able to get PAST some of this. I don’t know how. I, I mean, when I was sixteen I knew everything. I could have told you how. But hell, I’m 48 today and I don’t know how (laughs).
BG: Well I’m a little older, and I don’t know how either (laughs), though I wish I did.
GRJ: But I think that is, I think that is the real tragedy of America. And I think it has been for, however long, 200 years, however long. Mmmhmm.
BG: Shall we end it here?
[End of tape]