Re: [sixties-l] more .. generations

From: Sandra Hollin Flowers (flowers_s@mercer.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 10:56:07 CUT

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    As a "pure" Baby Boomer (born 1946 and therefore part of that cohort
    Neil sub-periodizes as coming of age between '64 and '67), I can see
    and have observed in my own scholarship the kinds of demarcations Ted
    posits. I don't know that I'd attribute them to the media, though, as
    much as to the prevailing values of the real world--not the world the
    media tried to create--of our particular generational, socioecononic,
    political, ethnic, and geographic slots.

    For example, I was the child of a WWII soldier (a black man in a
    segregated army, which makes for an ambivalent message, indeed) who
    was also president of my small, western hometown's NAACP, Civil
    Defense, and PTA as well as a Boy Scout troup leader among other
    activities. I was in second grade when Brown v Board of Education came
    down; I remember beginning every school morning until maybe fifth
    grade or so by saluting the flag and fervently reciting the Pledge of
    Alegiance. (Do kids still do that?) My classmates and I grew up with
    Civil Defense drills and bomb shelter logos on every other public
    building in town; John Kennedy was assassinated in my senior year of
    high school; and my husband and brother were in the Air Force during
    the Vietnam War.

    What I learned in my own "real world" was that I was at once part of
    and separate from the larger world. All my father's activities, and
    thus the way I learned to look at and behave in the world, were
    patriotic and civic, and none of his affiliations except, ironically,
    the army (even after the war when he was a reservist) was segregated.
    But not even my father's contributions to his community and nation
    were enough to stop our neighbors from driving us out of a modest
    integrated neighborhood we dared to move into when I was in jr hi. And
    neither did "Leave it to Beaver" et al (read, "The Media") shape my
    expectations in any way because, a) my family was too poor to afford a
    TV, hence expose me to that powerful medium, until I was in junior hi;
    and b) I knew enough to realize that I couldn't reasonably aspire to
    what my white counterparts later became disillusioned with. So I never
    went through the kind of awakening that comes with being disabused of
    one's illusions. What illusions??? (With apologies, Ted. I know I'm
    taking reductionist liberties with your media theory.)

    All of this is just to say that what I've concluded after following
    this thread is that one of the shortcomings of the generational
    approach to history is that it appears to be too monolithic to be
    fully applicable to any generation at any time in America's history,
    at least as I've come to understand that history. That's true even
    here on Sixties-L, as has become apparent in this thread. Of course
    we'll always have to resort to chronological makers such as those that
    generations afford. But beyond that, I think we're going to find that
    we are who we are because of who we're not, as much as for any other
    reason.

    S. Flowers



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