It’s been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed a prophetic dream for this nation.
50 years since a vision of black men and white men living and working side by side rang out against the walls of the institutions that sought to divide.
50 years since we caught ear of the faint melodies of “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”
And while today I am very thankful for Dr. King, and for so many others who sacrificed, bled, lost jobs and lost friendships for the sake of a unified people, I can’t help but mourn a little too.
50 years and still 40% of white American’s don’t have a friend of color.
50 years and still the majority of the voices speaking about equality and reconciliation are the same, white, educated, male voices we’ve been listening to all along.
same choir, different song.
50 years and we still incarcerate six times more African American’s than whites in this country.
50 years and when the girls who live next door to me hear me make a reference to being white, they laugh and insist “No, you not white.”
Because I’m nice to them. They like me. I like them. We’re friends.
And white people aren’t nice. White people are not their friends.
The only box I fit into is “You just really light skinned. You’re not white.”
Really, really, light skinned. Like, I’m Irish light skinned.
And maybe policy has changed, maybe the words we say (or don’t say) have changed.
But it all seems painfully the same, at least from where I sit. And truth be told, I don’t really know. I’m white, college educated, one of the privileged few in this nation.
I try to listen though, I try to open my eyes.
And the cries I hear seem to echo quite strongly of things I read in my history books.
The sights I see bear striking resemblance to things I was taught were long gone.
“America is post-racial.”
Or maybe white people are just done shouldering the guilt of our ancestors,
…who moved in and committed mass genocide of the Native peoples of this nation.
…who bought, sold, branded and traded people as if they were cattle.
…who denied access to education, healthcare, property and voting rights.
We don’t really want to own our past, we’re ready to move on. And – if we’re honest -white people like white privilege.
The records tell me that it was only 150 years ago that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
That the Civil Rights Act was instated just 49 years ago.
That it’s only been 32 years since Michael Donald was lynched in Alabama.
Today, let us remember.
Let us catch sight of King’s dream once more.
Let us pray that it sticks.
Let us (white people) learn the art of silent mouths and open minds. Let us listen. Get off our podiums and platforms and listen. Get off our high horses and learn from our brothers and sisters of other races and ethnicities.
And today, let us mourn.
Let us mourn the racial disparity that still exists.
Let us mourn the ongoing effects of trauma that shape minority populations in our country.
Let us mourn the children dying in our inner cities.
Let us mourn that nearly half of our incarcerated population is black.
Let us mourn the hatred and shame in our own hearts that keep us divided.
Let us mourn that even 50 years later, King’s dream is still only a dream.
A dream delayed, but not forgotten.
A dream deferred, but no less potent.
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
A great place to start listening and learning is to check out Christena Cleveland’s blog
Christena also just posted a list of “25 Christian Blogs (written by people of color) that You Should Be Reading”