Well, I guess this should be my return diary to Daily Kos. I have been missing for awhile now, and I figure with everyone all over the terrible incident in Haiti, and the fear we are all feeling at this point, that I might try something different.
This Monday, as most of you know, is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America, and it is a day for most to remember one of the greatest American heroes to ever live. It is also a day for us to look at our race relations in America, and see if we are making any progress.
But for me, I always look at this day as a purposeful time, a time to think about what we can do to better race relations. It is more to me what steps all races can take to live in a more perfect world. It is also a day that I have always had to hear about how awful it is that we consider it a holiday.
I love Kentucky, I have said it a thousand times before, and I really do love this state and this area I live in, but this is one thing I could never understand, the huge amount of racism that still lingers around in this area.
It was my Sophomore year when my high school starting getting out for MLK day. We had to loose one holiday to do it, so we choose President's day. It was that year in Spanish class that our teacher (who is originally from El Salvador) was blasted by questions of why we were getting out of school for Martin Luther King, but not President's Day, and why we would be celebrating MLK, etc. It was really disheartening, and from that point on it just got worst.
I heard all the jokes, and all of them made me sick on the inside, but all I could do is walk away, and look in disgust. I was always outnumbered, I had no chance to win an argument, or any chance to change any minds. It just never made sense to me, it was not like Martin Luther King Jr. was just some guy, he was one of the most peaceful and righteous leaders of the Civil Rights era, and he never did anything to anybody.
I was young, and had only been a victim of racism a couple times, I just thought it was marginalized, and it was never a mainstream idea, but I found out I was wrong.
The racism has gotten progressively worst over the years, and now hearing the "N" word in a group of guys talking has become the norm. I can't stand it, but what can you do when you are standing alone and no one would really listen to you anyways? There isn't much, I just grit my teeth and try to ignore it, but it just builds up in the back of your head, and all you can think about is, have we really moved that far away from the dream Martin Luther King had?
I am not African-American, but being a Multi-Racial man (Asian, White, Native American, and Mexican), I do get looked at differently. I do get called "spic" or "chink", mattering how tan I am that day. I do feel the stares when I walk into a room full of white people that I have never meet before. But I have still never felt the struggle to be African-American in this country, and as bad as "spic" and "chink" hurts me, it is nowhere as near as bad as the "N" word to African-Americans.
My heritage was never considered the "slave race"; my heritage was never sprayed down with a fire hoses, and told to seat in the back of the bus. I know none of that. But I do understand that, and because of that I am very sensitive to racism, especially racism towards African-Americans.
Which brings me back to the main point, Dr. King. There was a time in this country when the idea of an African-American as President was not even a dream. It was considered more of a joke, than a dream. Now we stand here with the President of the United States as a half-white, half-black American, with even a funny name, and a heritage that shows how far this country has moved forward.
It really is a testament to the power of peace. To the power of pen and paper. To the power a voice and a message. No matter how down I may get because of some racist idiots around the place I live, I can always look back and say we have come so far. But we have not come far enough.
Race is still a hot-button issue in American, and most people would rather leave it alone than tackle it head on, but I think we need to change that attitude. We, as minorities, need to start accepting some blame for what we do. We need to start pushing for self-education, rather than expect Washington to ever get around to it (I know Obama will, but honestly we can't wait much longer, the dropout rate is too high, and there will be a group who will miss the reform altogether). We need to get out in the forefront of the drug problems, and need to look at things in not a white or black sense, but minority-based sense. There are white minorities, and I live in the heart of it.
Prescription pain pills in some of the places around here, are even worst than the drug gangs in the inner cities, and the level of education, well, when a group of kids are crying about getting out of school because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., you can see how far that is coming along. So we need to tackle all fronts, we need to step forward and educate our youth, so maybe they won't get drawn into the drug live style, and won't be simple minded to be so racist.
We need to reform the De Facto Segregation that is happening too much in the common school era. If you are middle class or higher you get to goto a nicer school, because of where you live, but if you are poor or lower class, you get stuck in the bigger, but much worst, inner-city/rural area schools.
I have seen it with my own eyes. I was lucky, I got to goto the nice school. We had new books every year, we got new computers every 4 years, and we had a staff that was centered around getting you ready for college (Well until "No Child Left Behind", and then they got all worried about CATS scores, so they wouldn't loose funding). But if you lived outside the constraints of Raceland or Worthington (Two small towns I live in), you had to goto the County schools. They were much bigger (Several thousands students, to our 400 or so), and they had a lot less than we did. Computers were old, and slow, and didn't have the nice features we had. The teachers cared less, and didn't try as well, and the books were outdated and ruined.
It's so bad, that if a student was failing at Raceland, they would transfer to the county school so they can make straight B's and pass.
Scenes like this are happening all over this country, and we need to put a stop to it. We also need to help the effort by educating our children ourselves. We need to read to them when they are young, do math problems, and teach what the teachers at school won't. When they grow up, we need to buy them books, and get them involved in reading, and if they still don't like that type of schooling, help them get involved in skill based learning. There is going to be high demand for skilled laborers in the near future, and if we can get a generation ready for it by teaching them that just because you don't like science, doesn't mean you can't go to college, we can head off the flood of retirees, and keep this country running.
Call it wishful thinking, call it what you will, but the words of a great man will live on:
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four 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 just hope that we can leave up to that dream, I have faith, and more than anything I have hope.