On Tuesday (August 27), President Obama stated in an interview on The Tom Joyner Morning Show:
I think that Dr. King would be amazed in many ways about the progress that we’ve made. I don’t think that he would look and say nothing has changed.He would say, the fact that we have equal rights before the law; the fact that the judicial system and the courts are accessible; and that African-Americans serve on juries; and that we have thousands of African-American elected officials all across the country; and that we’ve got African-American CEOs of Fortune 100 companies; and we have a large thriving congressional black caucus, and that, as a consequence of some of the doors that he and others helped kick down, Latinos and women and Asians and the disabled and gays and lesbians, that they all also suddenly found a seat at the table — I think he would say it was a glorious thing.
Ok, so we’re not exactly in the state we were in when MLK delivered his historical oration. The truth is, yes, things HAVE changed. As far as the legal and social barriers that forbade black people from jobs and schools, those collapsed long ago, but an economic imbalance still remains.
Today, blacks and whites work together and eat together, but articulating racial slurs went from rare to normal. Not to mention, the suspicions and tension that follow, all too often and particularly, when a black man walks into a room (see Trayvon Martin). Our actions are sanctioned, but our minds and hearts are not. The views placed upon say, blacks and Hispanics have not changed much at all.
It’s no coincidence that Blacks and Latinos fill up the majority of the cots in prison. It’s no coincidence that Marissa Alexander, a black mother who fought against her abusive husband was sentenced to 20 years in prison. And while “Stop-and-Frisk” was overtly passed in order to profile men of color, the biggest gun seize in New York City’s history collected 254 illegal firearms, of which none, according to my knowledge, came from Stop-and-Frisk.
Meanwhile, we have Miley Cyrus being celebrated for using black people as PROPS and appropriating black culture (i.e. “twerking,” which has real significance), but when a woman of color is placed on a pedestal, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s to look up her skirt.
What does it even mean to be black in America? To be Latino, to be Catholic, to be Muslim? I spend a lot of time thinking of that and how a society so conditioned to think in segregation can ever come to a place where something like the culture of my parents isn’t something that is merely tolerated, but embraced. Yea, it’s cool I can vote and go to college, but why am I still checking myself into a box?
Let’s go way back. Listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech, after the break.
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