I have been thinking about this post for awhile now. Unfortunately, knowing how sensitive some of you folks can get, I held back. But since tomorrow is the day we choose to recognize Dr. King's birthday, I think it is a good time to share it with you.
It has to do with Dr. King's speech. In that famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial on a hot day in August, he spoke of "having a dream." In his dream King envisioned a lot of great things happening in A-merry-ca when it comes to race relations and racial harmony. He dreamt of a country where "little black boys and little black girls could join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers..." He dreamt of a country where his four children would be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (White conservatives love that one, and they use it every chance they get. "Why should we give you affirmative action just because you are black? Shouldn't you be judged by the content of your character and not the color of your skin?")
In my humble opinion the brilliance of King's speech was that he never really expected his dream to be realized. He understood how truly fucked up the human condition was, and what he was dealing with in A-merry-ca. -"So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition."- All he could do was make A-merry-cans confront their unjust reality and at least try to implement laws to make things better. But King never really thought all the things he talked about in his speech would ever come to fruition. I mean let's face it, it was a dream. And the last time I checked, the odds of a dream becoming reality are very slim. Hell, if that wasn't the case, Lark Voorhies would have moved to Philly a long time ago.
If King really thought that the things he spoke about could become reality, he would have written his speech in a different way. He would have said something like; "one day in the not too distant future, my four little children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character". He would not have prefaced the words "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.' with that now now famous phrase, "I have a dream". By saying it was a dream he was telling us that the possibility of all of this happening was more remote. "The state of Mississippi transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice"? I don't think so.
No one could argue that given the climate of the country at the time of his speech (1963) all he could have done was dream. No one could have envisioned how far we would have come in A-merry-ca. And this is where the cynical field Negro comes in. I don't think we have come that far in A-merry-ca at all. I think in terms of attitudes we might as well be in a time capsule which reads August 28, 1963. Sure laws have changed, but little else has. People are just more sophisticated about how they hide their ignorance now.
And don't even get me started about us black folks. I think if King were around today, seeing how we have self destructed as a race would be his biggest disappointment. He would know that white folks don't give a damn about us. But he would have expected that much. He was a preacher, I am sure he was quite aware of all the shortcomings that come with the human condition. But he would have been taken by surprise with all the shit he saw with us black folks. I am sure of it.
So I will be at an MLK breakfast tomorrow morning, and I will be volunteering my time to do some cleaning up at a local high school. I will be doing these things because I understand the significance of the King holiday and what it is suppose to represent. But sorry, I am not as optimistic about the future of race relations in this country. King's speech and the words in it were nice. But remember, he was dreaming.