The world right outside Disney World

Chapter 30




Then it is better to lock them up in the cold, isolated world such as the one in which Tania and her little sister live.



And it might be wiser for busy career minded parents to turn them into slaves of TV and computers than to let them see the world outside - out there a few miles away where Linda and her family lives.



Linda lived not too far from Disney World, but that I should not mention too loudly, for she has never had money to go there. So poor were they at Linda's that they rarely had light before I moved in with them. I had a little millionaire money with me so I could buy kerosene for their old lamp. It was a day of rejoicing for the family.



Linda's father worked from early morning to late night for a white landowner and, after a three mile walk, often on bare feet, he did not get home before 10 o'clock at night. But this evening we wanted to delight him with a surprise, and when we saw him coming in the darkness, Linda ran out and leaped into his arms shouting: "Dad, Dad, we got a present... see, see, light... we got light!"



Afterwards, Linda and her brother danced outside in the glow of the lamp. The joy over the light warmed me immensely right after having experienced a succession of cold millionaire homes.



For the most part though there was not much to be happy about. Food always had to be cooked outside on a fire and Linda's mother could normally only sit quietly all day in the same chair because of the painful disease she suffered from.



Linda had to do her homework before sunset, but sometimes I saw her reading in just the moonlight. Often I would spend hours with her reading to me on the bed.




For Linda was without doubt my brightest and most encouraging experience in America. When I came to her family I was very depressed after months of traveling through a world of black oppression, which I felt was more destructive and dehumanizing than any in the world.



I looked at Linda and wondered why she wasn't subdued in spirit and body as so many other children among the oppressed. How had her family been able to stay together in the midst of this inhuman existence? And why did they have a deeper love for each other than I had found in any other home I had been to in America?



While racism in America everywhere gives both people and their surroundings a hideous face, it had here let love survive. That experience - in the midst of a world of ugliness - to find love itself was so indescribable and shocking for me that I was totally overwhelmed.



Now that we found love what are we gonna do with it?



Let's give it a chance, let it control our destiny.
We owe it to ourselves to live happy eternally.



Oh, love is what we've been looking for,
and love is what we've been searching for.



Now that I've got it right here in my hand,
I'm gonna spread it all over the land.



Now that we found love what are we gonna do with it?



Let's forgive and forget let no thought be your enemy.
I never felt so good, I'm happy, happy as a man can be.



Love is what we've been waiting for,
love is what we've been hoping for.



Now that I've got it right here in my hand
I'm gonna spread it all over the land....


End of Part One "History as seen in the present"

A short summary before you start on Part Two:

I began photographing American race-relations in the 70's. Black median income has since fallen from 61% to 56% of whites. Segregation in society is again growing just as the gap between white and black speech and behavior patterns grows again. More blacks are today ghettoized than then and live in all black neighborhoods against their own choice. As a result whites get richer and richer. When I first came to America every white had 6 times as much in financial assets as every black. Today whites are 8 times as rich!

Black enrollment in universities was falling (even before the white attacks on affirmative action in 1995) thereby rapidly increasing black enrollment in prisons. When I first came to America there were more blacks in college than in prison. Today it is the other way around.

Black music's search for love and acceptance (as in the song above) has today been replaced by angry anti-white rap music.

And still many whites believe that "racism is lessening"!

As the hopes of the 70's faded, I saw many blacks (such as Wilma in 1992) just like whites beginning to blame the victims themselves for their increasing misery. This is normal in all oppression and I will deal more with it in Part Two.

Blatant "Jim Crow" discrimination has disappeared making oppression more difficult to identify.

And so "internalized racism" among blacks has reached new heights. It now takes less and less effort and awareness to keep our pot boiling for us outside white oppressors (now joined by millions of immigrants).

Most damage in all oppression is done by its internalized forms. Linda above did not then show the symptoms of internalized oppression - the self- invalidation, hopelessness and anger - that is virtually eating up most other black children her age. (See in Part Two what later happened to her).

That we can feel love and affection for Linda shows our deep longing to become more human, and to break out of the distress patterns which inhibit us from acting more compassionately towards others.

Yes, this presentation is a long and difficult journey through much of the pain which has shaped us and divided our nation. We may live, sit and think segregated in our college, church or home where you read this, but let us not forget how close we also are.

Black and white travelers from the U.S. (or European whites and their ghettoized immigrants) who meet in foreign countries are usually amazed when they realize their deep common bond in the midst of alien cultures. Oh, what a love we can feel for each other when outside our own oppressive environment!

In most forms of oppression we have been stuck in our roles for so long that we do not even realize we have a problem. If you, when going through this little online presentation, feel you have been "very sheltered" in your upbringing, do not feel ashamed or guilty. Guilt - the worst aspect of our racism - will make some of you viewers so "drained" that you feel tempted to escape before Part Two.

But those who went through the greatest difficulties during my presentation are among the many who later stated that they got the most out of the show, book or online presentation. So I urge you to "force yourself" to stay and endure even more "oppression" after a short little coffee break here.

Before I start dealing with your individual responsibility in all this oppression in Part Two - in the segregated urban world's of America and Europe of today - I urge you to have a break, talk, laugh and cry together and enjoy all the things that makes us - after all - human!

Come back and see me again when your are ready for Part Two!

With love

Jacob Holdt