I grew up black in the 1960s in a small South Carolina town. Trust me, today’s America is nothing like it was then. And even under segregation, the marginalization was not total. My father was a plumber, my mother a school librarian. We were treated kindly. The local shopkeepers wanted our business, but they also wanted to avoid trouble from the few who believed wholeheartedly in racial segregation.

The segregation wasn’t uniform. One doctor had a separate waiting room; the other didn’t. Ditto for the town’s two dentists. Once the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed separate facilities, things opened up very quickly.

Many of the authors, commentators and journalists who spend all their energy thinking and talking about race today fail to acknowledge how much has improved with regard to race in this country. There are countless successful black Americans today—doctors and lawyers, entrepreneurs and academics, journalists and artists, compassionate politicians and famous Hollywood actors. Their numbers will keep growing as long as we remember six things…