Last month, I had the unique opportunity of participating in a panel discussion as part of the Martin Luther King day festivities. I was the only white person sitting on the panel. I have never felt so white in all of my life. I wouldn't have felt any more white if I had been eating a mayonnaise sandwhich, while singing a duet with Barry Manilow.
All of that aside, it was a great opportunity to interact with the community. One of the questions that was posed to the panel was whether or not we as a society were any closer to the realization of Dr. King's dream. It wasn't until later that I thought of a really good answer to that question. Don't you hate when that happens? At first glance, the obvious answer to that question is yes. We've got more blacks in positions of power, and we've even got a brother in serious contention for the presidency. It's easier now for a black youth to get a college degree, and the days of seperate water fountains seem like ancient history. We seem to be closer to equality now than in days gone by. Yet in truth, King's dream wasn't about equality. It was about unity. When the people join together, equal rights is no longer an issue. Meanwhile history has consistently proven that seperate but equal is a myth. Unless both the population and the power is split 50/50, there will never be equality. And even if their was somehow equal power, the equality would be empty, because we would still be a people divided. King's dream wasn't about two parellel nations experiencing the same quality of life, it was about one nation sharing the same struggles and triumphs as a single, unbreakable entity. So, as long as there is a black side of town and a white side of town we are still an eternity away from realizing the beloved community that Dr. King envisioned. To say that we have arrived when we are clearly still separate is to make a mockery of his martyrdom.