As millions of people across the country prepare to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I can’t help but wonder: How many people truly believe that we are better off because of his efforts and the Civil Rights Movement? How many people will use this one day, out of 365, as an assurance that they are keepers of the dream when in reality, they are dream killers? I am sure that I will strike a few nerves with this post, but c’est la vie! As the saying goes: A hurt dog will yelp. If you cringe while reading this or stop midway then, well..you know.
Almost 8 years ago I made the decision to move to Atlanta. Misguided and misinformed, anxious to leave South Bend, IN behind, I actually thought Atlanta was the place to be! After all, it is the birthplace of Dr. King so of course I expected to meet and interact with some professional, educated, and socially conscious people, Black, White, and everything in-between. (Enter reality, stage left). To say I was and still am disappointed by what I have seen would be an understatement. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that I had stepped inside the DeLorean and traveled back in time by say, oh…..at least 200 years.
Reality #1: Despite legislation, minority law makers, and the educational attainment of many of the African Americans who live and work in the metro Atlanta area, we still have some of the most segregated schools in the country.
Reality #2: Considering the above example, no one is doing anything to change this.
Reality #3: Many high-ranking education officials are aware of the disparities and played-out ‘achievement gap’ but are slow to react, if they react at all.
Reality #4: Too many people are content with their titles, Benz, and house in the burbs. Once they leave the city, they forget about everyone else.
Reality #5: African Americans who admonish others for speaking-up against ‘the system’ for the sake of securing a future in said system. I was once told by an African American administrator, “If you want to move-up in this system, you need to watch what you say.” I explained that I had no desire to move-up in that system. It wasn’t her fault; she didn’t choose how or where she was raised. That’s how I compartmentalized a lot of African American people I met who were raised in the South: They are victims of their stifling and submissive upbringings.
Add-up these realities and the final result = A disgrace to King’s ‘Dream’
Make no mistake: There will never be another Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, Rosa, Huey, Angela, Hosea, etc., but that does not mean the struggles are over. If anything, they are almost as bad as they were back then. Racists and anti-Semitics hide behind media outlets, social media, judges’ robes, bibles, badges, state capitol buildings, etc. They continue to instill fear and ignorance with their off-the-wall claims that people here illegally are stealing jobs from citizens or that minorities are exhausting the welfare system. Those of us who know better need to remain vigilant. If you have been on the fence up until this point, take a stand! As my Granny used to say: S&%$ of get off the pot! You have to choose. Alone we can do so little, but together we can hold people accountable, expose abuse and misuse of public funds, and expose the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots in terms of Education, Employment, Healthcare, and other basic human rights.
Let us not forget that Dr. King was not just a champion of Civil Rights for people of color (that includes Latinos and Jewish people too), but he also fought for equality for women and the poor. Given the events of the past 16 months or so, there are now more of us in the ‘poor’ category then any other. I ask you, will you commit to ensuring that everyday you live is in honor of Dr. King, or are you too preoccupied with getting your next promotion or latest E-Class? Are you a dream keeper or dream killer? Tomorrow is not just a day off, but a day of respect, remembrance, and re-commitment. Remember: