Today is a significant holiday here in America. It's the commemoration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I did a blog a few days ago about Lee-Jackson Day and how it did more harm than good. I'm thinking the biggest bother to me was the idea that these two days were combined at one point. However, I'm not here to vilify a holiday. I want to ask a question of people. Are we truly doing what Dr. King asked? Yes we've desegregated schools, killed the idea of what water fountains certain people can use, and where people are allowed to sit on a bus. I question if that's all Dr. King asked. I think there is a lot more that can be done to bring peace and equality to America. Here are a few things that bother me about our society that I think Dr. King would take umbrage with as well.
1. Race Roles
Seems like if a white kid embraces hip hop culture, he's labeled a wannabe. Also seems that if a black person wants to get good grades in school, he's a sellout. It's as if someone wrote some kind of rule book that tells which race what they can and can't do. I don't ever remember seeing that book. If I want to use proper grammar when I speak, that's my right. If a kid who grew up in the suburbs doesn't want to skateboard, who are you to tell them they're being a "wigger'? Dr. King's vision was for people to understand what everyone else is living through. I'm not saying embrace it, convert to it, or turn your back on your beliefs. I do think Dr. King would be bothered by the constant criticism of people who step outside their "assigned" culture.
2. Snubbing of Education
This is particularly true of African Americans. It seems as if the advancement of black people is a hindrance to black people more than anyone else at times. I don't know how many times I see or hear a black person call another black person a "sell out" because they enjoy being educated. It's as if getting good grades takes away your blackness all of a sudden. Why in the world would being ahead of those who you think hold you down be a bad thing? It's as if black people would rather be held down by the man so they can have an excuse to not succeed. I'm sorry, no one is holding me back from success. Especially not those who would rather me fail. Dr. King also felt that way, I'm sure.
3. Self Deprecation
Along those same lines, I see all races hurt each other in some way. I see my Caucasian friends consider themselves at times "white trash." That's a horrible depiction of yourself. I see my people referring to themselves as the n-word and as thugs. Why would you do that? Dr. King never wanted us to call ourselves by that name, nor would he call any white person "trash".
4. Quick Judgment
I was watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, "The Boondocks" and the episode was about what would happen if Dr. King were alive today. He woke up from a coma and proceeded to see what is happening in America today. One of the things that happened was an interview with him on CNN. The interviewer asked him what should happen to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. His answer was, "I think we should try to forgive them." Ummm, God forgave us from horrible crimes, still does. However in the show, America was outraged and considered Dr. King a Muslim sympathizer and un-American. If we're going to fight to put "In God We Trust" on our money and "One Nation Under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance, then surely we can put God's idea of forgiveness on our hearts. I'm not saying we don't fight for our country, but we also can't forget that we as Americans can get a little headstrong in how we handle a little adversity. Not saying 9/11 was small, but we were so ready to rip anything with a turban on in half that we forgot to remember that not everyone from the Middle East was involved in the attack. I think Dr. King would have been supportive of the war in Afghanistan, but also would have wanted everything that went into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be shared with us.
Look, we've come a long way considering where our country was over 200 years ago. Minorities and women are not second class citizens anymore. We have a man of color as our President. There are minorities running and coaching sports teams. We have a lot of wonderful things in our society that we are doing. However we have a long way to go. There are people who haven't grasped the full concept of Dr. King's dream. The dream that people are judged on the content of their character is still pretty far off as of now. There are still people who clutch their belongings when a person doesn't look like them walks by. There are people who speak a little slower just to help those that are a little darker understand them. When I read a story about a woman who looks like they're from the Middle East getting dragged off a plane and held in a jail for hours, away from her family simply because another woman on the plane saw her on a phone shortly before take-off, makes me wonder how hard Dr. King would have slapped his own forehead. We've a long way to go to achieve that dream. The day off means nothing if you're not living out the dream.