Still Dreaming

Today we celebrate the 21st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we pay homage to the civil rights leader who came to ultimately symbolize the movement.

44 years after his most riveting and famous speech, and how much has actually changed?

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.”

On a purely superficial level, it might seem that these particular issues have been overcome. African Americans no longer are the victims of segregration, and in the eyes of some, affirmative action has turned discrimination the other way around, much to some people’s chagrin.

Flip on BET, MTV Jams, or heck, even VH1… and black people seem to be reveling in prosperity. There we are on Cribs, showing off the contents of our refrigerators (not our characters).

Check out the hot new rap videos, and black people seem to be so rich that they’re dressing like wealthy, old, white women, literally laden in rich furs and jewels.

But so many of us still live in that lonely island of poverty, while our brethren are making it rain cash and flaunting their designer labels in that vast ocean of material prosperity.

Many of us still feel like exiles in our own land, but some of us are guilty of perpetuating those conditions.

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 a sign 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.”

Those “Coloreds Only” signs are mostly posted in museums and private collections nowadays. And in 2008 – fingers crossed – we’ll all be able to cast our vote for an African American leader who at this point, appears to have the bearings of a true leader of men – although he isn’t exactly being warmly recieved by the civil rights’ old guard. But we still cannot be satisfied. And so, I’m left wondering how much of Dr. King’s dream has been achieved.

We have come so far away from those black-and-white images of men being sprayed with firehoses and women sitting in at lunch counters, that we’re able to call each other “nigga” as a form of so-called camaraderie.

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 live in an extremely integrated city, one that “isn’t quite part of America,” as I’ve been told by many. Having grown up where I did, and living where I now live, I don’t see interracial relationships or friendships as a big deal. But judging by some recent, disappointing comments I read on one of my favorite sites, Concrete Loop – apparently not everyone feels that way. Seriously, I was surprised that people still felt that raw about a black and white couple.

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’ve been lucky in this respect. I can count the times I’ve felt truly discriminated against on two hands. We’ve made tremendous strides, I believe – many black men and women strong, college educated, and taking the business world by storm. But every so often, I’ll realize just how lucky I’ve been.

Sometimes, I become truly concerned about how we represent ourselves and the impressions our generation will leave behind. Sometimes I fear that Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has almost been forgotten even by his own people, even by his own children – only to be resurrected in January and February for Black History Month.

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.

How equal do you feel?

This Chicago Tribune article made me stop and wonder – damn, how much further do we still need to go?

On this day of rememberance and resolution, do you feel that much of Dr. King’s dream has been achieved, or do we need a new dream for a new era?

What are you still dreaming of, bellas and fellas?

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Comments

  1. My dream is that all Black parents, especially U.S. native born, emphasize education to their children. No longer should anti-intellectualism be accepted. I want people to understand that knowledge is really POWER. I dream of a day when all Black people speak proper English, and no one will refer to a Black people who want a better life for themselves and their families as “being white”.
    As an immigrant growing up in a largely African-American community, I hated when people called me “white girl” because I wanted to raise the standard. Enough is enough! We shall overcome; we must overcome; we are overcomers!

  2. oh yeah, I want people to vote, vote, vote! I became a US citizen over the past few years, and I vote at every election. I know that my voice is being heard when I vote. Those who are green card holders, do not wait too long to get your citizenship. The cost is worth it.

    Keep the dream alive …. Happy King Day!!

  3. I still dream that blacks will treat their own with dignity and respect…

    that I’ll walk down all US streets and be treated cordially by our brothers and sisters.

    that I’ll walk into an establishment that’s under black management and receive services and treatment that we deserve and that can usually be found when patronizing an establishment under white management.

    ^@AppleDiva..I agree 100%! I dream that society, families and parents of black children make education top priority.
    On the topic of ‘being white’- unfortunately, doing better in all aspects of our life has been equated with doing what white people do. The standards that they have set, blacks have been led to believe that those are the standards in which we have to reach (from slavery- black weren’t deemed as human. to be human or acceptable, we had to be white-like). Instead of realizing that we are capable of greatness and looking to our own as examples….

  4. tantiejean says:

    Thanks for this post i knew you’d have something about this important holiday. I’m infuriated that my boss demanded that we work today. If black businesses don’t observe the day what does that say for others who do the same?

  5. Bella, i also read the post at ConcreteLoop, and it seriously hurt my heart. i guess it is a barometer of how far we need to progress. AppleDiva & kia, i concur 100%.

  6. Well, I feel Dr. MLK did change the fabric of this country significantly, and created opportunities for ALL people. His dream was accomplished, but now it’s our turn to further and developed it even more.

    Black people need to do internal repair because there is still racism, but it CANNOT keep anyone back like it did in Dr. MLK time.

    We have a lot of RICH black people, not WEALTHY black people. The difference is that one can pass down their financial benefits, while the other can’t/doesn’t by their own foolishness.

    Pan-Africanism is key. Black people need to stop tearing each other down. Why should Barack Obama’s “blackness” be challenged? Why criticize Oprah for building a school to help South African girls?

    Videos, music, tv shows that have Black people acting like minstrels for money. We need to seriously think about what image we are portraying to the public because the burden of being a stigmatized group is not being seen as individuals, but a group. The effect is when you watch the news and hear something bad, you automatically hope that person is not Black.

    Education= social mobility. Knowledge is power. We as a people need to teach our kids that lesson. Stop generational welfare. Stop looking for others to help us, help ourselves.

    It’s no longer white people holding us back, but Black people holding ourselves back. Self responsiblity is the new dream for Black people.

  7. Reply to tantiejean post:

    I went to an all Black private high school in Chicago, IL, and we had school on MLK day. I believe what our school president believes, which is a black man, that MLK day has become just a day off. Most people and especially students don’t even know why they are off, they just know it’s a day off from work or school. My president believed that we should be in school learning because that is what MLK would have wanted. We observed his birthday in school while stilling getting our education. I believe people should still go on about their day as normal, but observe the day by going to musuem, doing a volunteer service project, going to see a special MLK event, etc. My president also believed by having the day off from school/work was the opposite of MLK dream.

  8. I believe that the barriers that we ( minorities) first faced are almost all eradicated. There is no doubt that racism and discrimination still exist but they are not the strong holds that they were before. I agree with the sentiments that most have expressed, that it seemes that we are now our worst enemies. I also saw the comments on concrete loop, and was disappointed by them but by no means was I surprised. I have no qualms about interracial couples in reality or on film. I have observed and engaged in this argument many times, and the reactions have always been mixed.

  9. Thaddeus C. says:

    Someday, I’d like to awake and see that this “Dream” is a living and breathing reality. As of now, it is just a dream.

    R.I.P. Alice Coltrane

  10. jerseybred says:

    What are you still dreaming of?: A day when all people TRULY accept another’s differences.

  11. I dream that we will never stop striving to seek “the truth”. That we start honoring our greatness and the stuggles of those who have gone before, and not just pullinng them out off the shelf on MLK day and during Black History Month like an old, dusty family album that we flip through and put back in the attic until next year. That our sense of community is renewed.

  12. I dream that we will once again get back to respecting and uplifting each other collectively and in the way the individual person needs. Until we can get to doing THAT, too few of us will respect and honor the decision of another to marry or get involved with a member of a different race. Internally first, the problem of respecting and uplifiting each other within is the first issue we have to solve. We get caught up in what do you have on, what are you driving and how are you living and not enough focus is put on and how are you, are you advancing and improving yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone, challening who and what you are. It is what we have collectively, shamefully fallen for, materialism over character. Hopefully, prayerfully we will get back to honoring in high esteem good character again.

  13. This is late, but I have a dream that people will let Dr. King’s, “I Have A Dream” speech rest and start to look at some of the later speeches he made. The ones after visiting Cicero, Illinois where he became a lot more radical because he realized the incidious ways in which racism works. It’s not simply about not speaking english,not being a respectable kind of black (like soem of your commenters insist) being friends/intimate with white people, it’s about a system of oppression.

    I think the most damaging thing that has been done to Dr. King’s legacy is that he’s reduced to being the dreamer, and not to his message after that dream. His message of a reality in which he realized the interlocking societal struggles, and not “little white girls and little black girls being together”, but the fact that after we’re together there is a centuries long history that we have to confront and debunk which contains internalized racial superiority of whites and internalized hatred of POC. You can’t confront 500 years of struggle with “60 years of civil rights” and think that we’re all going to be fine because we can be “rich”. (There were rich people of color even during what most would consider the “most racist times in this country.” There has almost always been a black middle class whether they were native born or immigrants.) People actually believe the fight for civil rights is over, and it’s not.

    Every black person the USA could speak broadcast English, stop saying “nigga”, buy into Pan-Africanism, and do all the right things that will supposedly make us more acceptable and yet there would still be racism. Look at the people that they hold up as the new model minorities, Asians and Latinos (when it used to be biracial/lighter skinned black people). They still experience racism. No amount of intermixing is going to change that because we’ve been intermixing (sometimes forcibly) for the last 500 years. We need a reality like the one Dr. King finally recognized before his death. We need to start talking about it realistically, not from the standpoint of the dream, but from the standpoint of his radical reality of class and race. I think he would have gotten to gender/sex eventually, but he recognized it’s about a system of oppression.

Trackbacks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Still Dreaming

    Today we celebrate the 21st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we pay homage to the civil rights leader who came to ultimately symbolize the movement.

    44 years after his most riveting and famous speech, and how much has actually changed?

  2. [...] This goes back to my MLK Day post, how much longer do we have to dream? [...]

  3. [...] to CNN, 69 percent of blacks believe that Dr. King’s dream has come to light. In 2007 I wondered if we were still dreaming, and quoted segments of Dr. King’s most famous speech — the I Have a Dream speech, [...]

  4. [...] last yet seemingly most popular. You are a low contrast style and what is not a requirements of time stress and will create the illusion of bigger look to the face and [...]

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