Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr Day. School was closed for the day here, which seems like kind of a joke considering the overall whiteness around here, but I'm sure the two black kids appreciated it (ha ha). But actually, don't we who are less integrated need the reminder more? I confess that although I admire MLK more all the time and have always been interested in civil rights history, MLK Day never seemed like much of a holiday. What does it really mean to someone like me, in my circumstances and with all my privilege? But again, that's why I need it: to remember, and to look ahead. It means more to me all the time and I know it will mean more to me in the future. And that's a good thing, because it's not a good thing to "be able to" ignore issues of race and rights and pretend we're "colorblind"--it's been my loss, not my privilege, for too long. We think MLK Day is for minorities, but they don't need the reminder of where we've come from and how far we have to go--they feel it all the time--we who are in the majority are the ones who need to be more conscious. I am happy to be waking up more and more.
Erin put it well on the Transracial Adoption Blog: "Forty years ago, blacks and whites could not use the same water fountains or restrooms, and today they can be members of the same family."
So does that mean we have come so far, or do we still have so far to go? Do you think people of different races answer that differently? I'd wager yes; as whites we tend to think if we're not telling racist jokes we're doing pretty good. But that doesn't mean racism is gone. Racism is an imbalance of social power, and we are still on the powerful end of that. Thanks to my favorite sociology major, here is a thought-provoking article on "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Napsack."
Read and watch King's "I Have a Dream" speech here. Don't just read the end. Consider it all.
In light of those, I think we still have a long way to go . . . but for my child and all God's children, I have a dream today.