Whether civil rights have improved depends upon your perception of reality. Those who bump into enlightenment suffer differently from those who are blocked, or block themselves, from experiencing fulfillment.
As long as we continue to allow poverty, suffering and injustice, I will continue to ruminate on George Carlin's acerbic indictment of humanity: "Humans are an evolutionary cul-de-sac...a failed mutation the Earth will shake off like a bad case of fleas."
While it's fun to channel George it's important to remain patient and keep talking about "civil rights", "humaneness", "justice", and how we do or don't relate to each other. We acknowledge there will always be need for improvement.
In some ways we move forward (more interracial couples and less overt racism). In some ways we move backwards (people behave politically correct as they obscure their nefarious agendas.)
I hope Dr. King, my parents, and the ghostly progenitors of our collective enlightenment witness Obama's arrival. Whether Obama is a competent president is almost superceded by the [b]symbol[/b] of his presidency.
Many have stated, "I never thought I'd live to see a minority president." That statement in itself shows us that we have many miles to climb before we reach the mountain top. Let's keep rising together.
Trul9, you wrote: "Whether Obama is a competent president is almost superceded by the symbol of his presidency."
This is a powerful statement. What exactly is the symbol his presidency? And where does the "almost" kick in -- where is his actual competency more important than the symbol? Does he need to lead us out of a recession? Provide accessible, affordable health care for all American? Close Guantanamo?
Yes and give it back to Cuba. Cuba has asked for it back and we ought to end our unwanted occupation of it.
The symbol of Obama's presidency is seen when Obama channels Lincoln and Dr. King. Obama picks up threads that have yet to be woven into the fabric of our "more perfect union". Lincoln helped abolish physical slavery. Dr. King told us ALL people must strive to overcome their mental slavery. Obama says his presidency isn't about himself, it's about us. I believe that.
People the world over expect, need, hope beyond reason that one man, Obama, is going to fix their problems. Balderdash! Each of us shares the responsibility for bringing light into the world.
We can't rely on "leaders", individuals, or the "cult of personality" to fix our self-inflicted problems. I dislike our tendency to place the shining star on a pedestal for 15 minutes before we rip them down and throw them away.
Obama's competency will be diluted by forces of stupidity, ignorance and fear that work against us all. As long as we hang onto "rich get richer, poor get poorer"; as long as we cling to our self-entitled pursuit of the good life no matter the cost; as long as we think ourselves righteous while others are ignorant; we will never overcome the inefficiency built into our way of being.
If we continue to cling to the "rules" established in the past ALL of us will continue to be mental slaves and the "perfection of our union" will remain a dream.
We overcome spiritual and mental slavery by understanding the causes and nature of suffering, and improving the way we interact with each other and everything.
"Each of us shares the responsibility for bringing light into the world."
I think that Obama realizes that and that is the reason that he keeps reflecting back to the people that he is inspired by them and asks them to get to work.
That's my hope anyway, that he is asking for a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Civil rights have made great strides over the last 50 years. But have we arrived to the place that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed? To a small degree. I have a criminal background and will be looked down at for the rest of my life. I have really good character, but made a few mistakes growing up. But my character is tarnished now and very few people can see who I am below the tarnish.
This is how I feel most minorities are treated. Tarnished! Why are they automatically tarnished. How do we fix this?
I have attached Martin Luther King's Vietnam speech. Many of the basic themes are as current today as they were forty years ago. Would it be possible to explore why this is the case and how solutions can be implemented?
I would also recommend reading the book "The Great Work" by Thomas Berry for defining one of our fundamental problems and "Plan B, 3.0" by Lester Brown for solutions to these problems.
I will look forward to a very interesting program if you are able to address these issues.
Thanks and best wishes,
Here's a provocative and powerful MLK Day kenote address, given two years ago by Lewis and Clark professor G. Mitchell Reyes:
A short sample:
[quote]"Why have we frozen Martin Luther King at the ?I Have a Dream? speech? It wasn?t his final statement on race relations, it didn?t achieve much in the way of political results, and it offered no practical solutions to the racial problems of the day. It was an eloquent, beautiful, charismatic oration to be sure, but today we hold the speech up so high, we glorify it so that its light blinds us to the older, wiser thoughts of Dr. King."[/quote]
I appreciate the collective wisdom of the previous comments. We have not yet made it to the mountaintop. To get there we must deal with the underlying drivers of racism, which are the deepest threats to democracy: the willingness of some to impose their will on others through economic power or violence. The cynicism in the realpolitik of the last eight years justifies such an approach. When justice, legislation, and executive order can be bought how can any of us be truly free? How can we pretend our democracy is healthy? The next civil rights struggles include those for true freedom of religion, where we judge someone by the content of their character, not whether they are Christian, or any religion. Dr. King was a shining example of the great possibilities in Christianity! Lately we've had more sorry examples of how it can be used to justify bigotry and to oppress. Perhaps another next front in the civil rights struggle is the disgraceful state of our failed correctional system. The disproportionate representation of minority populations in prisons is an acute symptom of the deeper problems discussed above.
"...the willingness of some to impose their will on others through economic power or violence."
Conservatives will fight tooth and nail against any change.
This is an old old never-ending battle and the Bible story about God fighting against Pharaoh for the freedom of the Israelites is an early example of it. The Pharaoh was the then form of Conservatism and God represented The People.
Funny isn?t it, God was a ?lefty? back then, God and Moses had to inspire the Israelites to ?change? their conditions and free themselves from their Conservative government and learn to govern themselves.
Change is a long term battle and history teaches us that things have changed over time.
It will probably get frustrating in the short term and when it does we ought to remind ourselves to think long term, to keep ourselves at it, because freedom, liberty, and human rights are always at stake, always in danger.
The idea of race is not based on science but on culture. Ideas like "mixed race" are based on the erroneous belief that the human population is made up of genetically distinct groupings. A century ago people believed that the Welsh and English were separate races. Hitler's antisemitism relied on the pseudoscience that classed Jews as belonging to a separate race. Wouldn't we make more progress if we acknowledged there are no distinct "races" of humans?
I don't think prejudice ever goes away. Women still prejudge me on the appearance of my skin (white and geeky) and don't even consider the content of my character (which is insubstancial, but they might reserve judgement until they at least ask).
The 'I have a dream' speech can also be called the, 'promise of America' speech. Dr. King spoke of the promise of America being left empty in that not all her citizens were free. From that perspective it would appear we have come quite far as a society. There are however many impediments and restrictions to fundamental freedoms for various individuals and groups. These fundamental freedoms can be related to personal identity, racial and political representation, market tyranny or information acquisition (to list a few areas).
In order to properly construct a healthy democracy, it is imperative the masses are well educated and well informed, and that the media is a frank and honest source of information and critique. There seems to be strong forces at work against these imperatives. What obstacles do you see as impediments to a well educated and informed public, and a frank and honest media?
"What obstacles do you see as impediments to a well educated and informed public, and a frank and honest media?"
Those obstacles are called Conservatism.
LOL!!! Thanks Tom. Great answer!
I believe over the past 20-30 years, the issue of racially equality has grown more complex. In Washington County where I live, for example, we have many Asians of various nationalities as well as East Indians, for example. Since the Patriot Act and since 9/11 I'm not sure how many in these groups feel equality. Moreover, with regards to African Americans and King's dream, yes, it seems we've made progress, but I am still appalled that there are still skinheads and other hate groups still active. But I personally continue to dream the dream and try to conduct my life accordingly. Thanks.
Poor. Delusional. Americans. Can we ever get a break? Can we ever not cling to the past? In addition to worrying about the lingering racism among whites, we now have to worry about the extreme racism among minorities. So much anger, stoked by irrational exuberance from alleged do-gooder's, attempting to insulate minorities with irrational pride has now had the opposite effect. We need to let it go, like the Israelis and the Palestinians, nothing will change by focusing on the past. We all need to let it go. Stop adding up the gripes and start over. All the races, are now racists, so perhaps we have leveled the playing field!
We aren't starting over and letting it go, through the superficial election of a minority man, who was elected for the prevailing reason of the color of his skin. He was not elected in spite of color, but because of it. Is this something to celebrate? Is this something Americans deserve exceptional credit for? The most we can hope for is that through acts of superficiality, perhaps we got lucky with the gamble, and elected a man who can deliver. This, however doesn't change the underlying methods and the lack of intelligence of a warped and sickened American culture. Perhaps, it will however act as a crutch and allow the broken legs to heal.
It may be someday that we reach both a "postpartisan" political culture and a "postracial" society, but as we now know Portland is the Whitest, the least multicultural big city in the United States. We also know that Oregon as a state has at best a mixed record when it comes to welcoming non-White races and color. Though Portland as a city and Oregon as a state is certainly more diverse at this point 2009 then let's say 1969 or even 1989, we have a long ways to go. All our agencies of government our public policies and institutions, from education to health care, from immigration and labor law to human services, from the arts to housing, from banking and finance to civil rights, have to be reformed so that we are more proactively welcoming, of all racial and linguistic minorities.
Though Oregonians and Portlanders rightly pride themselves as being different from the rest of America--in certain aspects of culture, society, environment--this is one category where if we were more like most the rest of America we would be all the richer for it!
So are you suggesting there is something wrong with a lot of white people or a lot of any people in one place? That because Portland has a high percentage of white people it must somehow be sick and racist. Total and complete uniformed, cliched, ignorance. So perhaps areas of town or areas of cities, where many minorities live are also racist? That is indeed what you are proposing, without any evidence whatsoever. Where do you draw the line? Street? Neighborhood? County? City? State? Country?
Are people in Portland less welcoming then other cities? Are people in Portland statistically more racist then other cities? Perhaps everyone in China is racist, because there are too many Asians. It could be that everyone in Oregon is racist, or it could be a lot of other things. It could be that people in Portland are on average more open-minded and liberal than other cities of this size---sometimes statistics say minorities are closed-minded, so perhaps minorities don't want to live in Portland because it is too gay-friendly and liberal. You never know!!! It is about time we stopped presenting all this half-baked speculation. Which is repeated over and over again and then accepted as fact.
Glad to hear this discussion on OPB today. But I can't help wondering, in keeping with the occasion, why it is that opbmusic.org is essentially racist? (And for that matter, ageist as well.) I'm not saying that opbmusic is racist by intent, but given that opbmusic offers next-to-no jazz, blues, r&b, hip-hop, music from any part of the African diaspora, in fact, hardly any music by anyone who isn't white, how else can you characterize it? Opbmusic plays basically nothing but young white boys and girls (mostly boys) strumming their guitars and playing rock/pop music. As part of the coming "change" I wish the opbmusic concept could be sent back to Crawford, along with the outgoing president, in favor of a format which celebrates all of our musics.
Thanks for that extreme example of American "dumb objectivity." No we will never change when this is the quality of our people. This is the level of their critical thinking. Perhaps OPB can also include a touch of ignorance in all shows, so we can be sure everyone is represented.
Re: The subject of Race
Help facilitate the civility of discussions on this topic by changing the identifier from "race" to "family". With luck, any discussions about the "families of man" can be less heated by negative emotions and be much more inclusive.
World Have Your Say asked this question today and here is my comment:
?Are we expecting too much from Barack Obama??
I suggest that the better question is:
?Is Barack Obama expecting too much from us??
It is one thing to be inspired by the potentials that humans are capable of and another thing to inspire and ask humans to do and be their best.
We Americans have long been trying to change from Conservative top down government by the wealthy few through fear and intimidation; to what Abraham Lincoln called a Government of the People, by the People, and for the People, a bottom up form of government which requires inspiring and asking people to do do and be their best.
I wish Obama and all of us well.
In response to a comment that Dr. King is primarily remembered in the media for his "I have a dream" speech, I am saddened. For me, Martin Luther King was a transformational figure in America's political, spiritual and social development. He went beyond racial equality and justice and for this he was assassinated. It is seldom mentioned in our public commemorations of Dr. King that toward the end of his life, he expanded beyond racial issues and began to speak out against the Vietnam War. He started criticizing U.S. complicity in injustices around the world through our government's support of repressive regimes to further our own political and economic self-interest. He spoke out for the need or our government to change our foreign policies to support the disenfranchised, not only in this country, but worldwide. Because of this stand, I believe, he was assassinated. My hope is that incoming President Obama's Administration will begin to change our disastrous foreign policies now in place and a more peaceful world may have a chance to emerge.
To truly honor Dr. King, I think we need to understand that the very fact that Barry Obama himself and many of his supporters immediately made his Presidency about ?race?, even though throughout the campaign insisted the election should not be about ?race? means we are NOT adhering to Dr. King?s ideas. I believe what Dr. King would have preferred was a world where we elected someone to be President because we believed he would be the best President for the country ? i.e. the content of the character of the candidate. By calling attention to his skin pigmentation repeatedly does a major disservice to Dr. King?s dreams.
As a minority I know we have a long way to go, but we would be foolish to think we have not made major, major strides toward a more tolerant society. If racism was as active as many would have you believe, then how does someone like Obama get elected? Why is it OK for some minorities to favor reverse racism? Many African-Americans frequently express racist remarks about Caucasians, and even a cursory listen to Black music in America sounds similar to attitudes found in the KKK, only in reverse. All racism and sexism should not be tolerated, and it is appalling that no one ever thinks anything about racism directed at Whites.
I have a dream that one day my child will grow up and live in a world where it does not make news if there is a Black President, or Asian, or Female, but rather what the person who is President DOES makes news. Where he or she is judged by the capacity to conduct the Constitution of the United States of America, not any physical appearance, color, or sexual orientation. Where poverty is obsolete and the privileged no longer live in ivory towers and the destitute no longer suffer. I have a dream where we live in world where the country I love and in whose military I served no longer sends it?s sons and daughters to fight and die to make rich people richer, where education is not just a word to get elected, but granted the importance it truly has. This is my dream. RIP, Dr. King.
Please expand your understanding of the concept of reverse and institutional racism by looking into Tim Wise and Michael Dyson (just use google). Pointing out individuals who have risen above the detritus of racist institutional obstacles by no means proves racism is dead in America. The election of a Black man is not the 'nail in the coffin' of racism. It is my belief we elected the candidate who is most prepared to lead us through the problems we face, and out out the ruts that have limited us. The fact that he is not white male is significant given the rocky racial history of our country. Appreciating this significance is not reverse racism as you describe the term, but a celebration of achievement under extraordinary adversity (if you don't appreciate the story of an underdog succeeding watch Rocky). I respond to your comment as a minority and Black cultural critic, so I empathize with your sentiment but I have few delusions about the racial social dynamics in the US.
I never said nor implied the election of Obama was the "nail in the coffin", however it would be foolish to believe we have not made strides since the 1960's. Would Obama been elected in 1964? Acknowledge not just the distance left to go, but the distance traveled as well.
Well said, well taken.
Why isn't anyone talking about the disabled, the violation of our civil rights is institutionalized. School districts segregate us, allow abuse by there staff and see us not as students, not as people worthy of an education, but rather as money makers. They latch on to federal funds that's supposed to be used for the disabled and roll as much as much as they can into regular ed.
I am white and voted for Barack Obama, because he was smart. I didn't care about his skin color. I have always had a dream that we would vote for someone intelligent to be our top executive!
The genius of Barack Obama, is that he sees past the things that most people get distracted by. If he is to succeed, he needs more of us to see past those things too.
Seeing past skin color is easy, when compared to the study it take to see the truths that might be contained in our political opponents bundle of mistaken ideas.
It is an opportunity to finally put to bed all the historical lies and generalizations about black people, like being only three-fifths of a human, being lazy, and every other lie and slur, libel and slander ever told.
That is one thing that I'm very happy about!
Some of you asked about the reports Dalton Miller-Jones mentioned when he spoke on the show. You can find both here; scroll down to "featured documents."
The first, "Breaking Barriers" documents state-wide community forums on college access. "Taking Back Oregon's Future" is a series of recommendations from the state higher ed board to the governor. Miller-Jones said that the recommendations "did not get carried forward to the legislature," although he said many don't require money, just volunteer time.
Dr. Miller-Jones is a member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education as well as a professor of psychology and chair of the Black Studies Department at PSU.
Thanks again to everyone who came to be in the audience today! It was great to see so many people - and for me, such a fun change from the radio studio.
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