Happy MLK Day 2018 – Still a Looong Way to Go

One year before I was born America passed the Civil Rights Act.

Put another way, it’s only been illegal to discriminate in this country for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m only 52.  Just five years before I was C-sectioned into this world, Jim Crow was alive and well and four African American college students were arrested for trespassing when they dared to sit at a Woolworths ‘whites-only’ lunch counter.  (Link) Only ten years before I popped out, cops arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat in the ‘colored section’ to a white passenger after the ‘whites-only’ section was filled.  (Link)

I’m not that old, and neither are America’s attempts at racial equality.

Once the majority of us elected Barack Obama president in November of 2008, many people made the mistake of assuming we had officially and thoroughly kicked the butts of prejudice and discrimination in this country.  Then we watched millions of our ‘enlightened’ citizens question Obama’s birthplace and allegiance to America, we saw hateful caricatures depicting him as a shoeshine man, an Islamic terrorist and a chimp, and we witnessed attempts to marginalize him by questioning his Christianity and labeling him a Muslim.  (Link)

Then, with the help of those same people, Donald Trump got elected.

According to the Fair Observer (and most of our memories), “His rise to ascendancy was driven by a campaign that not only lacked basic human decency, but was filled with xenophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny. His hateful rhetoric has successfully managed to stoke the simmering racial tensions in the country, culminating in the events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12.”  (Link)  And re-culminating in the uproar over his recent assessment of Haitian and African immigrants. (Link)

Racially, Trump’s doing the exact opposite of what Dr. Martin Luther King tried to do.

Dr. King committed his life to fighting non-violently for racial equality in America, while Trump’s every Twittered word indicates his only real fight is on behalf of his own ego, even when suspected of being a racist.  King had a dream that at some point, we’d get over each other’s skin color and start judging each other based only on the content of our character.  Trump’s dreams are more focused on money and power, and to him skin color and ethnicity still seem to be a valid method of assessing someone’s (even a judge’s) abilities and worth. (Link)

Make no mistake, both men are flawed.

Sadly, King’s views on marital infidelity totally align with Trump’s, and you could argue that Trump’s views on homosexuality (if you believe them) are actually more evolved and open-minded than King’s were.  Thankfully, flaws can be overshadowed by a person’s life purpose, but only when that purpose serves something grander than oneself.  We forgive King for being imperfect and honor him every year because of what he stood and fought and died for – an America where racial equality is an everyday given.

Trump’s flaws, however, are unforgivable.

At a time when this country needs a leader who can unite, he’s been nothing but the great divider.  He can’t compliment Nazis and generalize brown-skinned immigrants as criminals and rapists and expect to be easily forgiven.  Nor can he disregard movements like BLM and MeToo and encourage police brutality against protesters of hate and honestly believe that history will remember him differently.

Great leaders are essential to social evolution, but true change can never be litigated.

No ruler or law can make us love each other, no codes or rules can force us to see past each other’s skin.  Only a shift in personal consciousness or an ‘aha’ moment of private growth can cause a heart to grow – that’s a lesson taught to us by Dr. King and demonstrated clearly by the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  It’s up to each of us to discover our own ‘Cindy Lou Who’ and make the transition from selfishness to caring for all.

I’m not that old, and neither are America’s attempts at racial equality.

On this 2018 MLK holiday, let’s celebrate his memory.  Let’s be thankful our schools and lunch counters and buses are for everybody and say a prayer for those who worked tirelessly and gave their lives to make that happen.  Let’s each vow to continue to bring true racial equality to America regardless of who succeeds or fails to lead us that way.  Another fifty years will fly by and who knows – maybe by then our grandchildren will be living the true dream, joining hands and singing,

“Free at last, free at last, dahoo dores, we’re free at last.”

  • Mike Lukas

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6 thoughts on “Happy MLK Day 2018 – Still a Looong Way to Go

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  1. Mike I am proud of your words. I agree in the fact it was not so long ago but yes we have not gotten there yet. Respect starts at home and those parents who birthed you are kind respectful Christians they have taught you well. I hope the next generation does better than us by electing someone better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Missy – kind of you to say! You’re right, it starts at home. We’re doing our best to pass that torch to our own two kids. The future looks bright…

      Like

  2. Once again Mike, I have to commend you for another well written piece. One point about racism that seems to be ignored at times is the fact that is has evolved. Most white racist aren’t that way, though a sizable minority still are, don’t regard Black Americans as inferiors who should still be picking cotton in chains. Many of them claim that they became racist because they were victims of ‘reverse racism.’ Last year I watched a documentary about people in the KKK and this was what some members used to justify their racism. One man said it was because all through high school, black students never called him by his name but only ‘white boy’ and ‘cracker.’ While this certainly does not justify any racist feelings, it is something that needs to be addressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, and excellent point.
      So many different types of racism – and like you said, such an evolution, too.
      Reminds me of Joyner Lucas’s song ‘I Ain’t Racist’ where a white and black guy call each other out on exactly what you commented about. Check it out, but only if you promise to watch BOTH guys rap (some people quit before the black man gets to rebut)
      Also, if you didn’t know already, they’re lip syncing (really well) Lucas’s voice.
      Love to hear what you think of it…
      *** Warning – NSFW – very adult language ***

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Judging by the comments I’ve read about it, I guess a lot of people watch it up until just before the white actor is finished his part and then stop it, pissed. They think that’s the whole piece and they’re not happy it’s so one-sided. Ahh, attention spans, so very helpful. 🙂

        Like

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