Prompt 089: One Day in the '60s
89. While browsing at a vintage clothing shop, you've been transported back in time to live a day in the 1960s! What wouldn't you be able to do back then that you could do today? How would you try to blend in? Would you enjoy your experience? Why or why not?
Personally, I don't see how living in the '60s would be such an inconvenience compared to life today. The things I can think of that I "wouldn't be able to do back then," for only a day, seem so inconsequential.
So what if I miss my job for a day? So what if I don't have Internet access for a day? So what if I don't have easy access to allergy medication, or veggie burgers, or a mobile phone for a day? These are modern-day conveniences that I could seriously live without for quite some time... A single day without any or all of them is barely an inconvenience if one thinks about it for even a brief moment. Life progressed just fine without those material things.
Social dynamics is where the '60s would be a challenge for me, I think. Pre-1965? If I were a woman? Or a black person? Or a black woman? I would have a mammoth obstacle: legal rights. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in fear, live life as less-than a human being. Even in comparison to how things are even now, in this racially-charged moment in US history.
It's unfortunate and exposes its glaring flaws, I think, to realize that going back in this country's history less than 100 years presents issues as barbaric and ignorant as sexual and racial discrimination. To see few-to-no black-owned businesses, to hear people use the words "negro" and "negroid" as descriptives... To see completely zero blowback against cops that beat black folks... The Watts Riots have their anniversary this month. Even as a white guy, I find that difficult to swallow.
I think it's those things that would prevent me from blending in, as the prompt suggests. To see the racial and sex-based discrimination without repercussions of any kind, anywhere - and no legal recourse - would likely enrage me. Even though this was for a day.
I'd like to do something like be a volunteer at a hospital and do some kind of healthcare or community health work. Maybe work in a soup kitchen in a large city. But even then, I wonder what sort of discrimination I'd witness. Worse, I'd possibly earn suspicion as an agitator or COINTELPRO agent or something like that. I'd earn the disdain, hatred, and even violence from white racists because I chose to associate freely with black folks.
Even though the question is, "how would you blend in," I don't think I'd want to blend in with white folks were I back in the 60's for a day. If there were any advantages at the time, they had them - men or women. I doubt I would learn much, or at the very least have an interesting day, if I stuck around them all day long.
I admit I wasn't really feeling this prompt. It's been sitting in the Drafts bin for a couple days, and I've just been loath to address it. I'm catching my breath from another several-weeks-in-a-row of stressful work at the day job, and next week will be my first paid vacation since December. It's been difficult for me, and I'm grateful for the chance to unplug and rest.
I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world right now who would want to go to sleep, and when they wake up all this goes away like a bad dream. That's what makes waking up these days now so strange: reality now is on par with our oddest dreams and some of our bleakest nightmares. I'm hoping a week away re-energizes me so I'm ready to facilitate another training before the end of the month.