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A 'rediscovered' video on racism in 1970s small-town New York has taken over social media

A 2-minute clip from the documentary has gone viral with more than 4 million people watching it already.

A 'rediscovered' video on racism in 1970s small-town New York has taken over social media
via PBS

In 1976, PBS aired a documentary by Bill Moyers called Rosedale: The Way It Is and it's recently resurfaced because its theme of racial tension is still relevant today.

The documentary follows the story of the Spencers, a black family originally from Trinidad, who moved to the U.S., eventually buying a house in the white, working-class Rosedale neighborhood in Queens, New York.

The Spencers moved to Rosedale in the summer of '74 because they simply "wanted a good place to live." They were greeted with a pipe bomb thrown on their doorstep and an attempt to burn the house down with gasoline.

"If the second bomb had gone off, we wouldn't be here," Glenda Spencer told Pix11 in 2019. The Spencers refused to move and Glenda, the mother, still lives in the home to this day.

The most disturbing part of the documentary is how the white children of Rosedale verbally and physically attack the black children in the neighborhood.

Bill Moyers Journal Rosedale: The Way It Is

"They treat us like we're a piece of dirt, dogs," a black girl says. "I mean that's the way you treat an animal. I mean, God, we're human beings. You don't treat other people like that, it's just wrong. Black, white, I don't care, a person is a person. Skin should have no bearing on how you treat a person. That's just wrong."

When asked by a reporter if he could forgive the white children, a young boy says, "No … you can't take back no hurt."

The video is eye-opening because it shows white people talking candidly about their fear of black people at a time when white flight and urban decay occurred simultaneously.

The white residents commonly say they're getting the "short end of the stick" and are losing their rights to minorities. The sentiment sounds eerily similar to that of modern-day working-class white Republicans who voted for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is from Queens.

Glenda Spencer in 2019

Some forty-plus years after the documentary aired, it resurfaced last year when Hunter College grad student Sola Olosunde, shared a clip in a Twitter post that received over 4 million views.

"I didn't expect it to get this much attention," Olosunde said. "People have this sense of anxiety about people of color growing in number, and people of color coming in," he said. "I think it's still connected to that."

The film also shows that overt, community-wide racism wasn't just experienced in the American south in the '70s, but in more progressive New York City as well.

"People see New York as this open place where everybody accepts each other," he said. "That is really not the case."

Spencer agreed that the racism shown in Rosedale in the 1976 documentary still exists in America now.

"Look at the problem. It's the way it is," she said. "It still is."

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