Actress Jennifer Sears says she was the target of racism while growing up in rural Georgia and it was her local school district that perpetuated the oppression.
The 38-year-old actress, who is appearing on this season of OWN’s Greenleaf, penned an open letter via PEOPLE and says in 1997, her homecoming court was segregated.
“It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I was smacked across the face with the rugged backhanded compliment as I was voted most popular in my sophomore class... within the Black student body. Yup, I was ‘Queen of the Blacks,’” she wrote.
Sears said she was surprised at how slow progress had been made around race in the southern part of the United States.
“My small taste of what my grandfather lived almost his entire lifetime and what my mother experienced as a child, prohibited from entering her neighborhood hamburger joint that served Black people only at the window, left me disheartened in contemplation of the future of racial equality in America,” she wrote. “Did my grandfather dream of better days for his children, only to see them poorly served at a ‘Blacks only’ window? Did my mother dream of better days for her children, only to sit in the stadium seats looking out at her daughter standing on a racially divided homecoming court?”
Sears continued: “As I dream of better days for my future children, what awaits them? Will they too have to fight to be seen, heard, respected and valued as members of not only the Black race, but also of the human race?
Jennifer Sears went on during her letter to describe the racial trauma that is carried through generations and how it affects younger generations today, which could understandably be considered their “American nightmare.” Read the full piece here.
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