Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are We Dreaming Or Is It Real? An American Report Card


More than two-thirds of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for race relations has been fulfilled, a CNN poll found -- a figure up sharply from a survey in early 2008.

The CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey was released Monday, a federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader and a day before Barack Obama is to be sworn in as the first black U.S. president.

The poll found 69 percent of blacks said King's vision has been fulfilled in the more than 45 years since his 1963 "I have a dream" speech -- roughly double the 34 percent who agreed with that assessment in a similar poll taken last March.

But whites remain less optimistic, the survey found.

"Whites don't feel the same way -- a majority of them say that the country has not yet fulfilled King's vision," CNN polling director Keating Holland said. However, the number of whites saying the dream has been fulfilled has also gone up since March, from 35 percent to 46 percent.

In the 1963 speech, delivered to a civil rights rally on the Mall in Washington, King said: "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."

"Has that dream been fulfilled? With the election of Barack Obama, two thirds of African-Americans believe it has," CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said."


In light of this poll, I thought I would investigate the dream myself to see how close we've come to making it a general reality. I thought I would take it one dream at a time and do a kind of metric to see just who has it right, white or black, whether we've seen with Obama's ascension to the presidency, a realization of Dr. King's dream.

I won't be using any hard data, but will be relying on my own observations to reach whatever conclusion seems appropriate.

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."

This is still a mix bag. Some places have extended equal protection under the law to the lesbian-gay community (permitting marriage), while some states have sought to thwart and suppress those efforts.

Although segregation exists in places, we still see too much de facto segregation to truly say that all men, including women are created equal, when women are still trying to get equal pay for equal work. All in all, I would give America a 'C' in it's efforts to realize this dream.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Given what little I could find on this subject, it appears that some hopeful signs are occurring on the horizon. Although many would concur that some progress has been made regrading this dream, I believe that I can safely assume that this part of Dr. King's dream hasn't been fully realized, so I would give Georgia a 'C+', fully aware that Georgia was a kind of barometer for racial progress during Dr. King's life.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Well, I don't have to research this dream, because if the state of Mississippi had been "transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice," it would have made the evening news, and we surely would be in the end-times, and, I might add respectfully, with the second coming right around the corner.

Is that cynical enough!

No, Dr. King's dream has not been fully realized in the state of Mississippi, and I give that state an 'F' in terms of realizing Dr. King's dream. Barack Obama did win Mississippi's Primary thanks to the black vote there, but he lost rather sizably in the presidential race, 56.4% for McCain to 42.8% for Obama. Now if anyone has evidence to support a higher grade, meet me after school, and we'll discuss in in my office.

I have a dream that my four 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'll have to go with my gut here, and say that we're beginning to make some progress in realizing Dr. King's dream. The election of Barack Obama as this nation's first sitting president gives me some hope. I think that by and large this is a reality, but I'm only given the nation a 'B-' here, because we haven't seen a full-court press to up this grade beyond the election of President Obama. I want to see a little more progress before I'm willing to say this is a dream realized.

[I wrote this blog entry some months ago, prior to the Town Hall meetings, gun-toting demonstrators, Birthers, and Deathers, and those folks clamoring for a return to the past. You know who they are--the "I want my country back" crowd. Originally I gave this category a "B-" but with recent developments, I can barely manage a "C," but I'm still hopeful.]

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is a dream not only for our nation, but for the world, and although I'm certain that we can give this nation and the world an 'F-' in this dream category, I'm still hopeful that someday--perhaps sooner, that later--we will rejoice at the realization of this dream for this nation and for all mankind.

So I would say that the whites overall have it right. Dr. King's dreams haven't been fully realized. There's still work to do. But I can also understand black folk's euphoria over the election of Barack Obama as this nation's first African American president, and see his election, if not the culmination of Dr. King's dreams, at least the beginning of them, and that's a good thing.

I would welcome your opinions as to whether Dr. King's 'Dream' has been realized, whether you think we're making progress, or believe that we still got a 'long row to hoe,' and a lot of 'water to carry' before we can say in the words of Dr. King:

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And Dr. King saw progress by the metric of freedom, for he knew where freedom was allowed to thrive, progress would follow. Where freedom was allowed to flourish, our differences wouldn't be as pronounced as those things that bound us together. He saw freedom as the grand leveler, the grand uniter, which this country had to embrace, if it wished to remain great and become even greater.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

12 comments:

sisterstation said...

I think we're around two thirds better..again with metaphors, but I think the justice of the peace who refused to marry the couple down south is kind of synonomous with what still goes on. You've got one third of the populace trying to dictate and control the two thirds. Two thirds who are not just tolerant of, but longing for, harmony and peace.

That shit head justice of the peace is the kind of guy who should know better, and in fact, does know better, but he doesn't care. He's just another mindless, Joe Wilson wannabee. What an aspiration!

With any luck, soon they'll all be so inbred they'll have trouble reproducing!.

Black Diaspora said...

@sisterstation: "With any luck, soon they'll all be so inbred they'll have trouble reproducing!."

Now, you're going to have me laughing to myself all day.

"You've got one third of the populace trying to dictate and control the two thirds. Two thirds who are not just tolerant of, but longing for, harmony and peace."

You know: that sounds a bit like our congress today. Obama sought bipartisanship, and the Repubs gave him the "Party of No."

I think you're right: We've turned the corner, and it's about time, but we still got a lot of people planting roadside bombs to blow up what little progress we've made with the election of President Obama.

kathy said...

Black Diaspora,

This is a very thought provoking post, and to tell you the truth, my opinion seems to fluctuate, sometimes I feel hopeful and other times, I feel that there has been a lot of, well, regression.

I am hopeful because President Obama was elected, not because he was Black,or because America wanted to relieve herself of guilt, but because he was the most qualified candidate, and a significant amount of white people were able to judge him on the content of his character, that is a significant change.
On the other hand, I sometimes hear people say or do things that make me feel like cringing in horror, or I read things in the media that makes me feel sick, but I keep hoping that these discouraging thingsthat we hear or see are fringe and mentally unstable people.
We still have long way to go in getting people to understand that, as you have stated before, we are all the same, we want the same things.

Ernesto said...

Here's another MLK quote I just came across recently:

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

In some areas, we have made a lot of progress. In some others, we have not yet come very far at all. Thanks for reposting this. I knew this had to have been written back at the time of the election or inauguration. A lot of the glow has since faded, thanks to the "usual suspects" and I think Black people probably have a less optimistic outlook than they did back then because of all the recent foolery and "tomfoolery" we have seen in the past few months.

sisterstation said...

I had to leave the house right after my comment before, and I chewed it over the whole time I was gone, I suppose because it felt a little flippant, considering the seriousness of the post and the eloquence of Dr. King.

And I agree with you that we must work really hard to stay on track and stay on top of things as they are happening, for we risk becoming cynically disgusted or apathetic.

Forty years ago i was stupid enough to believe that everything would miraculously change because "my generation" would be different.

We can see that things are better, yet not perfect yet. But I do believe that each subesequent generation is going to do more and expect more and demand more.

So we will get there someday.

kathy said...

@Ernesto,
""Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

___
thank you for that MLK quote, that should be made into a side bar logo!

Black Diaspora said...

@kathy: "[H]e [Barack Obama] was the most qualified candidate, and a significant amount of white people were able to judge him on the content of his character, that is a significant change."

Kathy, it's a change I can believe in. President Obama has been called, among other things, our first "affirmative-action" president, as though the term is synonymous with unqualified.

It's not.

"I keep hoping that these discouraging things that we hear or see are fringe and mentally unstable people."

It's the "seesaw approach" that attends progress. Some backward steps are inevitable. What's important is that we trend more forward than backward.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: "We shall overcome," but it won't be all at once, but over time.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "A lot of the glow has since faded, thanks to the "usual suspects" and I think Black people probably have a less optimistic outlook than they did back then because of all the recent foolery and "tomfoolery" we have seen in the past few months."

The outlook does look bleak to those of us who have no historical perspective.

For me, I take heart in the election of Barack Obama as this nation's first black president.

I never thought I'd see the day. I'm sanguine: always the perpetual optimist, but not without cause. If I'm pollyanna, it's because of people like you, the heart and soul of a New America.

I agree with kathy, the MLK quote is sidebar worthy. If you don't mind, I think I'll make it my "Words of A Warrior in Exile" quote,

Black Diaspora said...

@Sisterstation: "We can see that things are better, yet not perfect yet. But I do believe that each subesequent generation is going to do more and expect more and demand more.

"So we will get there someday."


We will get there, sooner than late. The "Promised Land" is within reach. Even now, I can taste both the honey and the milk.

Anonymous said...

I have to call it the way I HEAR it and SEE it!

Now, Black America had to FORCE White America to give us the right to VOTE! people were killed for this RIGHT! you will pay a price, when you decide to come against, INJUSTICE!

I wish I could give America an A, but, it deserve's an F plus, if their is anything as a F PLUS!

I am reminded of those little Black and Hispanic kid's that were not allowed, to swim at that club, I was HEART BROKEN, I was ASHAMED! I was ashamed that other country's, were watching the behavior of certain American's!

This is 2009 and our children are being FORCED to hear and see, what the Sixty's were really like, for we may have a Black President, but, yet, our young people has to witness the way he is being MISTREATED! and I know, this must confuse little black boy's and girl's!

I give AMERICA an F! for the Spirit of Racism has been allowed, to Roam from one Generation to the next! our young people will be FORCED to try and Unite American's, the Burden of Racism will fall on their shoulder's! and they deserve better! they deserve a better America!

iseeisee

Black Diaspora said...

iseeisee: "This is 2009 and our children are being FORCED to hear and see, what the Sixty's were really like, for we may have a Black President, but, yet, our young people has to witness the way he is being MISTREATED! and I know, this must confuse little black boy's and girl's!"

I agree: This is confusing for our black youth. Perhaps you saw this: a little black boy asks President Obama, "Why do people hate you."

The president gave a politically correct answer, but, at bottom, we know it's mainly because he's black, and that aggravates all the other issues facing people.

Here's a link to the You Tube video.

We're constantly reminded that we're a Christian nation. If the nation was truly Christian, your poignant remarks, "they deserve better! they deserve a better America!," wouldn't be uttered, nor heard, from sea to shining sea.

kathy said...

IseeIsee, yes, I have thought about how confusing this must be for children, it's a shame, but on the other hand, unlike the ugly scab that colorblind racism brought, perhaps children will be better prepared and aware of reality, this may make the children of the US stronger in the long run, let's hope, anyways.