“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.” Dr. Martin Luther King
In response to this famous MLK quote, a friend posted this:
“So if a Caucasian woman who lives in Harper Woods is denied the opportunity to receive a scholarship because she is not African American and living in Detroit, how is this equal? If the judgement of who receives comes down to color, can this be OK?”
I think she was referring to something that used to be called “Reverse Discrimination,” a term coined by Republicans years ago used to shift blame, to revise history, to save the white race, to preserve white dominance, etc. It didn’t fly then and now I see it beginning to resurface. With recent voting rights rollbacks, the “underclass” has been even more marginalized, among numerous unfortunate developments sponsored by the right which have advanced discrimination rather than reducing it. Blaming the victims of discrimination doesn’t make anyone’s situation better. Hard to believe we live in a society that is only now just becoming aware that it still blames the victim, whether it’s CSA or racism. Amazingly, another right leaning friend of mine recently suggested that quote of MLK was proof MLK was a Republican. Talk about revisionism.
The “content of one’s character” refers to a state where there exists true equality for all, which cannot exist without laws to protect everyone’s rights. Equality for all is the real question of character. The race or gender or sexual orientation or immigration issues facing us in this country will never be resolved until we have full equality woven into the fabric of our society on every level, from educational 0opportunities to voting rights legislation. This is what MLK stands for. Not “I am of higher character than this group or that group, therefore I deserve more rights and opportunities than they do.”
For every white person denied entrance to a university because they are white there are hundreds or thousands of qualified blacks who have been denied the opportunities most whites take for granted. And it’s not because they are lazy or inferior it is because our system has failed them at every turn.
Whereas I don’t expect to convince those in favor or rolling back civil rights in the name of “equality,” I have to say that until we have true equality, those of us who want justice and equality have no choice but to continue the fight. Until that terrible injustice of inequality is completely righted we cannot rest. We cannot wish it away.
We have to put up with the indignity and yes, unfairness, of making things right. To deny that racism exists, or to say it is no longer relevant, as many in our country are trying to do, even as we speak, is not the answer. Instead we need to talk about it openly, deepen our awareness of the insidious nature of the problem and tolerate the “injustices” associated with correcting it.
I can tell you the name of the African American clarinet player who took “my” spot at U of M back in 1978. I never felt resentment that U of M invited him, perhaps in order to meet their quota, instead of me. Did I play better? Perhaps. Was I of “superior” character? Absolutely not. Are these the important questions? NO, they’re not! I realized, even as a teenager, that all happened exactly as it should have. I believe it was the right thing for everyone, even though it may have seemed unjust to me personally. I turned out alright, after all.
We have to have faith in a higher justice than just what is in it for me.