Monday, August 26, 2013

I have a dream

 I am saddened that, in 2013, we are still having a conversation about racism. Fifty years have passed since Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech that has come to be know as the "I have a dream" speech. What was King's dream? That we should not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. We should all strive to make that dream a reality!

In the years that followed the speech, racism seemed to quell for a time. Now, again, we are experiencing racially motivated hatred, on all fronts. Why do we find it so hard to love our fellow man? Why can't we at least be nice to one another?  How is our character defining us? What is keeping this foul pot of racism stirred?

Lots of unanswered questions.

We have no control over what what sex we are born, or in what country we were born. Nor do we get to chose our personality type, our intellect, color skin, or the color of our eyes.  We can work hard and set our mind on a goal, but there are some things, regardless of what common trends in education and parenting teach us, we will just not be able to achieve. I can practice for years, but I will never be able to sing. (Well, I sing, but it doesn't sound like music!)

I was raised in the south, notorious for racism, yet I felt that racism was on the wane in the early 1970's when I was in high school. We had friends who were black. ("Black"was the proper name to call an African American then.)There was smart Roslyn, lovely Geraldine and Cynthia, "hot" Troy, very tall Jeff.  We were coming out of a very dark period in American history. We were trying, and making progress.  We were proud to have one of the first black football coaches in a newly integrated school, (think Remember the Titans after the students' enlightenment and transformation) who was the subject of a book, Black Coach. Everyone loved Coach Jerome Evans. It was "cool" to be tolerant and loving.

The more we practiced, the more it became real. 

Reminiscent of "The Help," I had a black . . . maid? . . . nanny? . . family member? I am not sure what to call Christine. She watched us three children while Mama, a single mother, worked. We were not wealthy, by any standard except happiness, so there was no "social class" differences between Christine's family and ours. Christine called us on our birthdays long after we required her care. She and my mother still go to lunch occasionally, when one of the children help them with their walkers. I still send Christine Christmas cards. We loved, and still love, Christine. (Update, both Christine and my mother died in 2014.)

Now fast forward more years than I can believe, we are again dealing with ugly discrimination. It isn't one sided. Where does such hatred come from? As a kid, I knew an old man who was an unashamed racist. His hatred made him ugly and terrifying.

The following video is rather long, but very captivating. It is from my era. Maybe it was training like this that made us more accepting, less judgmental. Let's try it again.

And let me be perfectly clear, I love you all, even those of you with blue eyes!

Learn something from the video!

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