What has happened to Dr. Martin Luther King’s (MLK’s) Dream? (Part 2)
by Dr. Christopher C. Bell Jr.
In part 1, we discussed my evaluation of the progress we as a nation had or had not made in race relations over the 51 years since Dr. King spoke. Dr. King mentioned 6 visions in his dream speech. In part 1, we discussed his first 3 dream-visions, and today we’ll discuss the last 3 dream-visions.
1. To call your attention to or renew your awareness of Dr. MLK’s dream as he described it in 1963.
2. To inform you of the progress I think America has made in moving toward the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream-visions.
3. To prompt your introspection and perhaps inspire you to gather the moral courage to do what you can during your everyday travels to promote Dr. King’s dream-visions.
In part 1, we talked about:
a. The American Creed and how Dr. King referred to it in his speech
b. The role played of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government in promoting Dr. King’s dream, and what it had or had not done
c. the role played by our Congress in promoting Dr. King’s dream
d. the many ways America is still fighting the same racial problems that she had in the 1960s, and that nevertheless in many ways America as a nation has progressed on the race relations front.
e. We talked about the white superiority syndrome (WSS) conditioning that all Americans are exposed to. And we concluded that racism in many Americans is still strong but that it was more disguised and more sophisticated, or that it masqueraded as something else. For example: voter suppression laws and tactics, Make America Great Again, (or make America white again), Let’s take our country back,
f. We commented about the many amiable, and loving, and warm, personal one-on-one, inter-racial relationships that have blossomed and thrived right here in America for many years. And then we forecasted that on the Racial Front or the Color Front, our tasks of promoting Dr. King’s dream-visions could be seen
(1) as raising the warmth, mutual acceptance, kindness that we can find at the personal “one-on-one” inter-racial relationship level to a warmth, mutual acceptance, and kindness on the “one to group” inter-racial relationship level and then;
(2) To raise the warmth and trust that might be experienced at this “one to group” inter-racial relationship level to a trust and acceptance at the “group to group” interracial relationship level. But we noted that this would be heavy lifting, sociologically and psychologically.
In essence, in Part One, I gave you a report of pluses and minuses regarding America’s race relations progress with respect to Dr. King’s first three dream-visions.
With these remarks in mind, let us take a look at Dr. King’s last three visions, 4, 5, and 6, which are noted below.
4. That one day my four little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
5. That one day down in Alabama . . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers
6. That one day, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” (Words of John the Baptist to his Jewish listeners; as recorded in Luke 3:5)
Let’s talk about number 4 that deals with judging people not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character, and let’s be real.
In America today the color of one’s skin still matters: And why do I say this? I say this because many of us here in this chamber are of the same generation as Dr. King, and we see now that so many things have not changed between 1963 and today. We still live in a nation where, to a great extent, people are still judging others by the color of their skin. Many of you can personally testify to this.
In America; the Color of one’s skin still matters; Thus the Rise of white hate groups
This rise in white hate groups is purportedly caused by white fears related to the election of a black president in 2008, and the ”Browning of America” thesis now becoming and part of the news.” Members of these hate-groups do not accept the notion that black people should be allowed to enjoy the same citizenship rights and privileges as white people.
In America color of your skin still matters; this is one reason why there are numerous instances of white Police officers unjustifiably killing or mistreating black people.
In America, the Color of your skin still matters; in such things as advertisements and endorsements, hiring and firing:
In America, the color of your skin still matters in almost every phase of America’s culture, government, education, employment, housing, health care, and community services.
In American, the color of your skin still matters; especially in politics. Many politicians tell us by their self-promotion tactics and their election rhetoric that color of the skill in America still matters
Now, let’s look at his dream-vision #5 where-in Dr. King saw little black and white children “. . .Joining Hands as Brothers and sisters.” It is my assessment that little black children and little white children may now join hands in kindergarten classes and in primary Sunday school classes, but as they grow older and enter grade school and then high school, our America’s cultural norms will click in and come into play. As black and white children mature, they will learn to become more distant or more isolated from each other. This result is the effect of America’s cultural White superiority syndrome conditioning process.
And now to Dr. King’s last dream-vision; That one day, “Every valley shall be exalted (filled), and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” (shall see the salvation of the Lord). These are the words of John the Baptist as he spoke to his Jewish listeners during the days of Jesus in ancient Judea; as recorded in Luke 3:5 of the New Testament.
Why would Dr. King quote “John the Baptist?” And who was John the Baptist?
Note: When John the Baptist was a wandering Jewish preacher and he spoke these words as he was trying to get the Jewish listeners to be baptized and to repent of their sins.
When Dr. King dreamed of such a day he was speaking in metaphoric language. Let me give you my slant on the foundational aspects of his quote.
a. He was talking about a time that the hearts of men will have changed from the way they are now, and the end of racism will have been secured,
b. He was speaking about a day when black men and white men will view and treat each other with respect and fairness
c. He was talking about a day of a New World Order:
A new world order: would be a world in which White people have overcome their white superiority syndrome conditioning cultural processing which now gives them a sense of racial superiority. In order for this to happen, White people will have to struggle to adopt and internalize the notion of racial equality, overcome their White Superiority syndrome conditioning, and teach their children by words, and behavior that a person’s skin-color should not matter in determining how they should be treated. This is hard work that requires serious introspection. It means that white people will have to overcome or let go of many of their standard/normal psychological, social, and religious ways of doing things.
In addition, A new world order would be a world in which black people will have struggled and overcome their white superiority syndrome conditioning which has given them a sense of racial inferiority, and black people have ended their superstitious inclinations; a superstitious inclination that arises from their failure to read and to think for themselves. This too is hard work and requires serious introspection and the overcoming of many standard psychological, social, and religious obstacles.
A new world order would mean that the hearts and minds of black men and white men in America will have changed as though their brain chemistry had changed in some way.
A new world order would mean that most Americans would have firmly adopted most if not all of the principles you Unitarians have listed on the back of the Program of Worship that you now hold in your hands. To reach this stage of development, this new world order, both black and white people must rededicate themselves to these simple principles. But this is hard work, and many standard ways, and normal practices or teachings will be obstacles that we must let go or overcome.
But of one thing we are certain: Unless and until black and white Americans have begun to talk to each other, however tentatively or precariously, about race and race relations and get to know each other as fellow humans, the New World Order will never come.
Now, I put the question to you. What should these facts and comparisons mean to you; you who are Unitarian-Universalists, Humanists, Christians, Jesus Followers, and Freethinkers?
1. These facts and comparisons should affect your thinking.
2. These facts and comparisons should affect your actions and intentions:
How should this be or how should this work for us?
1. These facts and comparisons should affect your thinking. You should now be prompted toward introspection about your own race-related sensitivities. You should now be awakening to your own White superiority syndrome conditioning, and your tendency to pass on these feelings and viewpoints to others, especially your children.
2. These facts and comparisons should affect your actions and intentions: With the information you’ve heard today, you may have gained the confidence to promote MLK’s dream visions within your own small sphere of activities. This doesn’t mean you need to go out as a crusader with the intent to change the world. But it does mean that you should see yourself as a persuader; a persuader within your small fellowship groups to call for equal racial treatment and respect.
Hopefully, you may now see a way in which you may gain the will-power to rethink how to react when you witness your friends engaging in racist commentary. Or you may feel better prepared to explain to your children or grandchildren that “color of skin” does not determine a person’s heart or worthwhileness.
In concluding let’s make clear that
If Dr. King’s dream-visions are to ever be realized there are several self-improvement tasks that each race must undertake, and we have already spoken of these task in explaining the foundational pieces of a New World Order. WE indicated that:
a. White Americans must give America’s culture, and America’s way of life, and themselves individually a deep self-review and analysis, and try to purge and overcome their White Superiority syndrome conditioning processes. AND THIS IS HARD TO DO.
b. Black Americans must overcome and neutralize the effects of their White superiority syndrome conditioning; they must gain and maintain a positive sense of themselves, and they must read and think for themselves, thus minimizing their superstitious inclinations, AND THIS TOO IS HARD WORK
Most of us will agree that our country has not fulfilled many parts of Dr. King’s dream-visions. But, I have concluded from my readings and reviews and comparison of news and history that Dr. King’s dream is still alive in the hearts and minds of many black and white Americans, but it is not well or in full-bloom.
Today, I speak to you as a humanist and as an optimist. As a humanist, I believe that we humans have the ability to solve these social, cultural, and inter-personal problems, and I believe that we should be already be about this delicate business. We humans have the power and the intellect to change ourselves. But most of us do not yet have the will or the bravery to change ourselves. This type of work requires dedication and moral courage.
As an optimist: I believe that in the long run, most Americans will try to make the necessary self-repairs or self-improvements that will allow our Nation to rise up and practice its Creed.
Again as an optimist: I am inclined toward hope rather than despair; I am inclined toward learning in the place of dogma; I am inclined toward truth instead of fantasy. And so I say to you that Dr. King’s dream-visions are not presentations of a wild goose chase, but they symbolize the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings. We have to just keep on keeping on and we’ll overcome the sickness of racism.