I’m sure I’m not alone in imagining the reaction of MLK, from the peaceful place he is now, at the state of race relations in this country on the holiday named (except in NH) for him. He must be shaking his head/fist, maybe cursing as he watches, disappointed in all of us for how little progress has been made in this, when we’re capable of such amazing leaps in other things.
Race relations, at least those chosen to appear on the news, show us clearly how much work needs to be done. Young black men are dying or wasting away in prison instead of making contributions to the world. Young black women are struggling against the ingrained idea of being strong, able to carry the burdens of family, and coming to a cautious optimism though they worry about discrimination. Education and opportunity are supposed to be equal, everyone says so.
We say one thing. We do another.
Oh sure we have a black man in the highest office in the land, but there isn’t much progress in terms of opportunity for the vast majority of black people. Look at the makeup of Congress (43 house members, 1 senator), Wall Street, Hollywood. Look at where resources go. See how truly ingrained these policies are and root them out.
For equality between races (faiths) we need to spend time together. To have our children play together, grow up together. To be neighbors and coworkers. To see each other daily. Once people of different races see how very much in common we all have with each other, the barriers will go away all by themselves.
The insult of affirmative action is the assumption blacks need this kind of help to succeed. They don’t. MLK wasn’t expecting color to give black people a pass — he wanted color not to count at all. Not the color of your skin but the content of your character. What he wanted was equal resources and opportunity for the races. Not reversed to “make up for” a past that’s dead and gone. But truly and completely equal, now and forever.
The sad, honest truth is that this country has not come nearly far enough on ending racism, in all forms, in all places. While a few, high-profile blacks are in a better place, there are problems and inequalities in black communities that no one seems able/willing to solve, and these need to be addressed before real progress can be made. So change can be made on the inside, where it sticks and takes root.
We do great here in the USA at technology, at developing consumables, at media, but not all that well when it comes to real change. The hard, in your face kind. The kind we need.
As part of that there will be, for many generations, those stubborn souls who will not accept, who will not change. We can’t let them hold the rest of us back. If enough everyday people (the silent majority) ignore the ruckus made by those who thrive on hate and division, and go forward, real progress can be made.
Maybe the kind that might get a smile out of MLK.