I Also Have a Dream

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

This Wednesday will mark the 50th anniversary of the delivery of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream.” I’d like to think that if I were alive at the time and had the means, I would have been in Washington when he first said those words. I cannot think of a more influential speech delivered in that century.

However, a recent speech has struck me.

In President Obama’s speech after the George Zimmerman verdict, he talked about how it’s not uncommon for a black man to be followed in a department store, or for him to hear the click of car door locks while walking down the street, or see a woman clutch her purse nervously when entering an elevator. I respect and understand the point the president made with those statements. But the whole while I’m thinking:

Why does this have to be about race?

I honestly wouldn’t think twice about my purse if I were in an elevator with a black man, unless the waistline of his pants hung down past his butt. A white man dressed the same way would make me just as nervous. I’m not saying that all men should dress in a coat and tie, but to at least wear their clothes the way in which they were designed and not in a way that emulates criminals in prison.

What makes me the most sad is that there is still this racial stigma 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington. President Obama’s words stung me. It really hurts that a black man would think he makes me nervous just because my skin happens to be white. I do my best to try to get to know someone before I pass any kind of judgment on them.

No one can choose the color of their skin. So why would a black man who chooses to wear his clothes properly make me nervous?

I don’t know what happened between between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that day. Maybe no one will truly ever “know.” It is not my place to judge. All I can do is to pray for all involved. But what I do know is that they both had/have the same color blood as the rest of us. And I believe that they both have the same Divine Judge as the rest of us. Shouldn’t that be enough to make us all equals?

I’m not a great speaker as Dr. King was. I’m not a great writer either. But I have a dream that one day I can be influential. I have a dream that I can help people remember that no matter our race, our destinies are tied up and our freedoms are inextricably bound. I have a dream that I can, by example, illustrate how no one should be judged by the color of their skin, be it white or black, but by the content of their character.

How has Dr. King’s speech inspired you?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “I Also Have a Dream

  1. Well said. Thank you. I was a child of the 60s. “The Dream” was that we would all be people first and skin color last. The people of my generation who had any class at all embraced that wholeheartedly. We’d had enough. I saw questions about race disappear from employment forms and medical questionnaires. We knew who was black and who was white, and we didn’t need a hyphen to tell us. We were humans, and we were Americans.

    You are so right. It is NOT about race for most whites. I have also been poor and unable to dress like a contributing citizen because I wasn’t one. Plenty of people locked their car doors when they saw me coming. I’ve also suffered more discrimination at the hands of non-whites than most people of color see in a lifetime, from shootings to being run off our land.

    And as for Zimmerman? He has a Peruvian native mother and is exactly as white as Obama, himself. Also, the jury and everyone actually involved in the case aside from Trayvon’s parents and girlfriend determined that race played no part. But, hey. That was just the jury, right? What do they know?

    The fact is that racism is becoming an ENORMOUS industry in this country. Perpetuating the hate produces a great many careers and a huge amount of cash for the Al Sharptons of the world. We now have a special African-American Education Office, no doubt soon to be followed by special snowflake education offices for every other shade of the rainbow. We have black studies departments in every university separating out blacks from the rest of humanity for their history, as if we had no collective human history, and no collective human experience. We now have Obamacare, which has racism built into its structure with edicts that say doctors will not be paid if they don’t treat a certain number of minority patients, and required medical forms that want us to specify our race before they will treat us, whether we’re under Obamacare or not. All of these are total failures of civil rights and completely opposite of “The Dream” as we conceived of it in the 60s and 70s, but they all represent a quickly growing industry that means a lot of money to a lot of people.

    Now, we have a president who encourages every person of color to look on me with suspicion and to see me as white first and a person not at all. A stunning disappointment for all of the racist white people who fought for civil rights and who later put him in office. But it consolidates minority voters on his side so that they will put race loyalty above American loyalty and the fact that more minorities suffer greater poverty under his administration than they have in numerous decades. It also fosters the growing racism industry, an important part of the economy. His “progressive” policies are failing, and he is turning this nation into Detroit, but, according to the head of the Congressional Black Caucus in an NPR interview, no black politician will speak against him, because he is one of their own. Black first, America second.

    I’m waiting for “my” president to come out and tell the nation that if he had a son, he would look like the Australian athlete who was randomly shot–he would look like a human being. THEN, and ONLY then, will we be making progress. Until that time, I see us sinking back into the worst racism I’ve seen since I was a small child. I’m waiting for “my” president to embrace “The Dream” and let us live as one. It’s not going to happen as long as votes and money lie in hate.

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