It’s Only My Opinion…

[ 2 ] January 20, 2009 |
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Today is Martin Luther King Day, the celebration of a great man’s dream. Tomorrow we will watch the inauguration of America’s first African~American President. An historic day, to say the least. I find it fitting that these two days fall in a row, however, I am disheartened that MLK’s dream has been so distorted since his assassination.

Dr. King wanted all people to live in peace. He dreamed of an America and a world where no one saw color, only the content of one’s character. What an awesome dream. I remember learning about him in school. I remember wanting it to be a reality. I remember not understanding how you could hate another person just because of the color of their skin, their chosen religion or sexual orientation. I just thought that was dumb. I still do. I was, and still am, a very altruistic person. It is so simple. Why can’t we all just get along?

I do not understand why in all the years since Brown vs. The Board of Education and Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech, that races still segregate themselves. It boggles my mind. And no matter what anyone says about “the man” being responsible for the separation of races, it is the races themselves that perpetuate their own isolation. I have seen it. My family is from the south. The white people live in their part of town and the black people live in their part. I don’t get it. I have been in “the black part of town” and looked at like I was an alien.

I once took a friend of mine to a birthday party for my “adopted” brother, O.J. It was held at a club in Long Beach. It was a “black” club. I did not know this. We were the only white girls there. We were given dirty looks by the women and called “Patricia Hearst” by the men. Why? Because we invaded their space? It was odd and rather scary. And my “adopted” brother is black. He didn’t get it either.

This is my point. Why isn’t it OK for different races to be in the same place at the same time? Why was I seen as an interloper or a white woman going after black men because I went to a birthday party? I recently came across a bumper sticker that said “Racism Is A Disease”. No truer words have ever been written. But why does it still exist? Why does each race, religion and creed segregate themselves? Why won’t they let someone of another color into “their world”? I don’t get it. I never will. Reverse racism is an enigma.

“One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group.”

This is not what Dr. King had in mind when he made his speech. This was not the goal of the Civil Rights Movement. This is sad. The overwhelming majority of gang members are African~American. And yet many of them blame white people for their plight. I am here to say this: If you have a child, take care of that child. Do not have a baby because you think it will be cool. Give them a good male role model if their father is not able to be in their lives. Be completely selfless. Take an interest in your child from the moment they are born. Teach them good values. Do not let them grow up thinking that the world owes them a living. Do not let them believe that their choices are to be in a gang or sell drugs. Tell them they can be anything they want to be. Support their dreams. Keep them in school. Love them unconditionally.

Give them roots and wings.
Keep Dr. King’s dream alive.
“I am happy o join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!


Washington Post Staff Writer

~~By N.C. Aizenman, Friday, February 29, 2008

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Category: Politics

About the Author ()

I'm Shan and I 'm the creator of The Asylum and a magnet for The Free Range Stupid™. I'm a little nutty, a lot sarcastic and pretty damn smart. I am also a graphic designer, blog coder, virtual assistant, free lance writer and can whip you up a killer resume, media kit or press release that would make others green with envy. Go to Skewed Design Studios to check out my services. You won't be disappointed.

Comments (2)

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  1. Matt-Man says:

    Racism exists in people because of history, upbringing, and other factors.

    However, I think it mainly exists because people are lazy. Life is easier for some people if they put this group and that group into a nice, neat umbrella of one definition.

    It requires so much less thought on one’s part if they can define an entire group of people as people that they would rather not deal with.

    Those folks like to live in a world that is black and white with no shades of gray. Why think when one does not have to? Cheers!!

  2. ChicagoLady says:

    Part of the reasons that races segregate themselves is to be around people like themselves.

    My high school psychology class had the opportunity to do an exchange with an inner city vocational school. They came out to our 99% white suburban school for a day, walked around to our classes with us, and got to experience what it was like for us.

    A couple weeks later, we took the bus to the south side of Chicago, to their 97% black school (2% hispanic, 1% white) and walked around with them to their classes.

    It was such a complete 180 degree turn for me. I’ve never felt so alone, walking into a classroom and seeing no other white students. Then when I would see one, all I wanted to do was sit next to that person.

    As friendly as they all were, despite the metal detector, security guards at the door, restrictions on gang colors and clothing, I will never forget the feelings and understanding I got from that one day.

    It doesn’t explain why we can’t all just get along. I’m not a fan of President Obama, but maybe this is something the country needed to truly start to bring about togetherness among all the people; black and white, hispanic and asian.

    Very nice tribute to Dr. King. One of the most important men in the history of our country.

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