February 4, 2016, Prescott- It’s been nearly three weeks since the nation took time to honour the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s been three weeks, since we heard this year’s iterations of the speech he gave, sharing his dream of a nation whose people were at peace with one another.
I have thought, long and hard, about the years that have passed since then, and the years that have passed since his slaying. We no longer, thankfully, have full-on urban riots, at least not since Los Angeles, and 25 other cities, in 1992. We no longer tell people of colour that they cannot live in certain neighbourhoods, or parts of the country. We have, on the one hand, made an attempt to include people of colour more fully in the outward cultural fabric of our world-with HipHop and rap becoming de rigeur, worldwide. On the other hand, there is so much unfinished, and even some progress at risk of being undone.
I have to say this, sans hard hat: There are still several areas of daily life, mostly involving how I, and people who look like me, are perceived by law enforcement, especially on the road at night, that are not experienced the same way by people of colour. As a nation, we buy too easily into stereotypes, still. It was not so long ago that I would lapse into a lilt, when speaking with African-Americans. That had to rankle the people with whom I was speaking and I apologize, profusely. It said volumes about my own gap in self-identity and deficit in self-confidence.
I am over that personal roadblock. The Dream that Dr. King shared with us, while speaking at the National Mall, those 53 years ago, was meant for all of us. It was meant for Blacks, Native-Americans, Latinos to claim a place in the true life of the nation. It was meant for women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men. It was meant for Caucasians to recognize that sharing the full life of the nation with people of colour, in no way diminishes who we are as a dynamic force in the progress of mankind. It was meant for those of both sexual orientations to be afforded the opportunity to share their God-given strengths and talents, in making the world a better place. It was meant that the Dream be truly universal. I believe the Dream is alive. I believe that this is truly the Day that will not be followed by Night.