Today we commemorate the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but more importantly we remember his life’s work. His dream of a better version of America in which people of all colors are afforded the same freedoms in equal measure was more than wishful thinking; it was a personal philosophy that formed the heart and soul of the Civil Rights Movement.
There are those who say People of Color in general, Black people in particular, are no better off today than we were in the 1960s. Some say the practices of yore — terror lynchings, Jim Crow, and segregation — have been removed, re-dressed, and replaced with the school to prison pipeline, daily microaggressions, redlining, gerrymandering, and countless other indiginities inflicted by a dominant culture which simultaneously envies and despises blackness. Far too many times, these indignities result in the murder of Black Americans.
Be encouraged, good people.
I believe America has made marked civil rights and social advances for Black Americans. One need only to look in practically all arenas of society to see our involvement and contributions in ways we could only imagine decades ago. And I am thinking of accomplishments other than the stunning eight years of America’s first Black president. These gains include all People of Color, of different genders, ages, sexual orientation, and physical abilities.
When “I” look beyond the country’s current political setbacks with its expansive divisiveness, the targeted erosion of voting rights, and the rise of nationalism and its ills, I choose to focus on those I know who have become painfully aware of the cognitive dissonance between that which they were brought up to believe about others versus the reality of their firsthand experience. I think of their movement from or abandonment of their racist worldview. I think of those who have suffered unspeakable loss and endure hardship everyday of their lives and are speaking openly of and through their pain to make their experiences and the costs of racism known in no uncertain terms. I think of the courage of both groups of people and the changes they’ve effected.
I can hear you already. Go ahead, I’ll say it with you. On three: “But we still have a looong way to go.”
But what are you doing to make the distance shorter?
Bringing Dr. King’s dream into the real world begins with you. And me. Right where we are. Thing is . . . this isn’t a one-off, one time effort. It requires a continued and concerted effort by everyone who believes Dr. King’s dream of racial equity is possible. You don’t have to be ablaze with desire to make it happen. All it takes is belief in the small spark that burns inside you. And all that’s required is that you do what you can, where you are, in the moment.
Anyway, you get my point. So if you think the time has passed for Dr. King’s dream, you’re sorely mistaken. The time is now.
What are you going to do?
Love one another.
Top photo found at Wikimedia. Remixed, cropped by OHF Weekly.