I Have A Dream

[Author’s note: This post is a continuation of the Welcome to the Future series of essays. If you haven’t read Welcome to the Future, I suggest that you start >> HERE <<]

Excerpted from Welcome to the Future

Negrophobia
I was a lower-middle income white kid of Norwegian-Italian parents. I lived a sheltered, segregated life with white neighbors and white classmates. I am not sure how it happened – my parents, if alive today, would vehemently deny they were racist – but I developed a fear of black people, Negrophobia. I never knew any black people personally as a kid. All I knew about them was what I saw and heard on the news. Black people were angry. Very angry. They were angry at white people. They were angry at my mom and dad. They were angry at me!

 
1963

The sixties were turbulent times. Anyone interested in learning more, will find a wealth of information on the Internet. I won’t begin to try to elaborate on it here, beyond a few simple points. First that the American Negro, the Blacks, the African Americans were righteously angry at being treated as less than human, both socially and economically. Second that my enlightenment regarding the truth began with my leaving home for college and has continued to this day.

Racism is a terrible thing. That seems like such an obvious statement now. Yet as I was growing up, the United States was in the throws of coming to grips with state sponsored racism. One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation that led to the abolition of slavery as a legal institution, the American Negro was still socially and economically enslaved.

One of the great leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement was the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. One of his most memorable speeches was given during the 1963 March on Washington, 50 years ago on August 28.

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.

I have a dream that one day … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

Watch the full speech below:

Another part of my enlightenment regarding the Civil Rights movement was listening to folk music, Pete Seeger, in particular. Even now as I research this essay, I am learning so much more than I had known before. (The Internet truly is magical) Pete Seeger popularized We Shall Overcome and it became the anthem of the American Civil Rights movement.

Pete Seeger talks about the history of We Shall Overcome:

This is the famous Carnegie Hall recording by Pete Seeger. It is part of the Mrs’ favorites playlist that she has been listening to on her new Bose speaker:

We Shall Overcome – The Complete Carnegie Hall Collection is available on iTunes, Amazon, and most of the usual places. Cat-Beard highly recommends this and the Mrs absolutely approves.

Where was I? Ah yes, the more you know about a person or people the harder it to harbor unfounded fear. The more I learned about the history and circumstances of African Americans the more I was filled with the same righteous anger and sense of brotherhood. How could I fear someone I respected?

 
Color Blind

In the same way that my Dad made sure that I would never be afraid of thunderstorms, the Mrs and I did our best to raise our two sons to be color blind. To our joy and pride, it worked. Both my sons introduced me to Rap (or is it Hip Hop? sadly I’m not hip enough to know the difference). My collection includes, but is not limited to, in no particular order: Jay-Z, Ludadcris, Lil John (Yay-ya), Chamillionaire, Trick Daddy, and Everlast (yeah, OK, so he’s not Black). I find both the rhythm and the lyrics of Rap compelling even if the language is a bit rough. I will never truly understand what it is like to grow up as an African American now or in the 50s and 60s, but through music I have a glimpse into the soul (pun intended) of the Black experience.

 
2008

From a woman on a bus
To a man with a dream

Chorus:
Hey, wake up Martin Luther
Welcome to the future
Hey, glory, glory, hallelujah
Welcome to the future

Brad Paisley – Welcome to the Future

What makes me the most proud about the Presidency of Barack Obama, is not Barack Obama himself. What makes me the most proud is that White America elected him, not once – but twice. I’m sure that the vast majority of Black America voted for him, but that alone would not have won him the Presidency. Barack Obama was elected by White voters.

One of the things I am conscientiously avoiding in this blog is pontificating on matters of politics and religion. Although it is true that I have strong positive feelings toward President Obama, this post isn’t about Barack Obama. This post is about how far we have come as a nation and as a people to have elected a Black man to the White House. In 1963 this would certainly have been a far distant dream.

Hey, wake up Martin Luther
Welcome to the future
Hey, glory, glory, hallelujah
Welcome to the future

 
2013

So here we are fifty years after Martin Luther’s I Have A Dream speech. Are things different? Unquestionably. Are things better? Depends on who you ask, but I would argue that race relations in America are better that they were fifty years ago.

Do White people still suffer from Negrophobia? Sadly, yes. Recent events in Florida testify to this. Frightened people do irrational things. Are there still too many arrests for DWB? I think Jay-Z would say yes. Are too many African Americans in prison for possessing drugs that are now legal in some states? You decide.

As a nation and as a people we still have a long way to go, but I remain optimistic. As for myself, I regret that I don’t have any close Black friends. I have African American, African Trinidadian, and African African friends at work, but no one I socialize with outside of work. Then again I don’t socialize much outside of work. I have a few close friends that I see outside of work, but I really don’t have much free time after work and what little free time I have tend to guard jealously. It must be the Introvert in me 🙂

 
Next >> Convoy

4 thoughts on “I Have A Dream

  1. Great post. I want to watch all of MLK’s speech later today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it from beginning to end. But when he says the words “I have a dream today . . ” it ALWAYS makes me cry. Introverts – even shadow introverts – tend to feel intensely the emotions of other people.

    Like

    1. OMG I love the Gravitar photo

      “YOKS” and/or “yeoldeks” [chuckling] I love it.

      All these past 50+ plus years I knew the “symptoms”, but I never had a name for it. Say it loud, I’m an INTROVERT and I’m proud. (Apologies to the spirit of James Brown and Black people everywhere)

      Like

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