“Different time,” no excuse


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A renowned comedian, Betty White did not joke about human rights. Traveling back in time as far as 1954, White stood up for marginalized peoples’ rights within the workforce and otherwise, placing her own privilege and prestige at risk in the process. Her life serves as a reminder that courage prevails, regardless of other minuscule hindrances.

Zioni Moore, News editor

Sprouting above dozens of stories where Hollywood stars did not shine particularly bright, Betty White breathed fresh air into the hearts of thousands. From amplifying LBGTQIA voices via starring along with them in series such as the “Golden Girls” to championing resources for disabled Americans, ‘America’s Sweetheart’ spent decades of her life risking becoming blacklisted in response to her activism. However, her persistence in fighting for equality in civil rights truly made her stand out, for as far back as 1954 White remained firm with standing for black lives

A decade before the Civil Rights Act, Betty White took an aggressive stance for anti-racism, particularly within the film industry. Using her power as a television superstar and an integral part within the field, White shut down arguments against black entertainer Arthur Duncan featuring in her television show. 

“And all through the South, there was this whole ruckus; they were going to take our show off the air if we didn’t get rid of Arthur because he was black. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, but, you know, he stays. Live with it,” Betty White said.

Truly an inspiration, a portion of Americans cannot understand how impactful her decision remains. She took a stance against blatant racism during the ugliest era of the South. She stood tall during a time when the sheer thought of supporting black Americans could have ended her career instantly. She took her stance long before the gruesome images and memory of Emmet Hill began to jolt the North, and before the Montgomery Bus Boycott pushed legendary Martin Luther King Jr. into the limelight. Before the Little Rock Nine, before the Freedom Riders, March on Washington

Still, those with considerably less on the line and more ability to create massive change stood at the forefront and did nothing. Granted, the medusa effect amongst the boomer and silent generations breeds from intense fear, a desperate need to keep “social order”, and the rise of modern conservatism. Nevertheless, the mindset still roots in cowardice that, in a perfect world, would never become excused, and the irony surrounding the most progressive generations excusing behavior shown to prevent the growth of society remains damning. 

“It’s hard to explain but it’s [definding] obviously not a good thing, of course. I can understand that maybe the circumstances that they [older generations] went through would of course make them feel pressured to not do anything, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have. It’s also even more preformative when people excuse it [around them] because it’s…just admitting to them placing my ancestors in danger. It’s just a really complicated situation overall,” magnet junior Daniel Johnson said.