WE ARE WITHOUT SANCTUARY.


I am happy to be living in a country that affords me the opportunity to succeed. As a parent I am happy that my children will have more opportunities open to them than I did. My job is to guide them into success. As I look around America I am worried for my children in spite of all the opportunity that exists. The recent string of killings of men and women of color has helped to refocus my attention on the details. I, like many people of color in this great country have been lolled into a false sense of achievement. Worst is that we have allowed the wider society to accept the fallacy that racial justice as arrived. We have failed in teaching our children the important details.

As a parent of girls of color I have focused on making sure they are confident and well-educated, that is not enough. Over the last few months I have had to re-evaluate everything I have come to believe about equity in America. The history of people of color in this country is one of brutality and subjugation. There has not been enough change in our situation. In the last several month several studies have shown the depth and pervasiveness of our disenfranchisement. Our girls are 6 times more likely to be harshly punished in school compared to white girls. Americans of African heritage with master degrees are paid the same as whites with bachelors degrees and even doctors of African heritage are paid about 10 % less than similarly educated white doctors. Why is this so? I have come a conclusion, that question is not relevant. It is not relevant because those in power do not care to fix the problem. I have given up on the idea of equity in my country. The continued inequity makes me angry and concerns me for the future of my girls. I am angry but I will not be deceived into violence. Protesting does no good. Voting does almost as little.

So, in my quest to find a better answer I have looked around and think I have found the only viable route in the Jewish experience of World War 2. No one is allowed to forget the Jewish Holocaust and so too no one should be allowed to forget American Slavery and Jim Crow. The end of the Jewish Holocaust is celebrated but the brutality of it is what is referenced most often. This is what we all are reminded of daily. As people of color we need to teach our children about the brutality of the American enslavement of out ancestors and the continued brutality of Jim Crow America and the current discrimination. We need to have them understand that the current celebration of Martin Luther King Jr is fake and serves only to assuage the guilty. It is not a sign of contrition, it is hollow and designed to distract from the ever-present and pervasive discrimination against people of color. Our children need to know about the Martin Luther King Jr struggle before they can appreciated his success. They need to know and see the pictures of America brutality to their ancestors. They need to know the name Emmet Louis TIll along with Martin Luther King Jr. The goal is not anger, it is empowerment. Our children need to understand that things have changed and that we have many opportunities, but they also need to understand that they need to succeed in spite of the many race based road blocks. They need to succeed to honor their ancestors.

Violence is not the answer, it is only a way to continue to enslave us in the prison complex which is designed to strip us of the rights our ancestor died to attain. Our children need to understand the context of their lives in this land of opportunity. We need them to take the opportunities and make progress while making sure no one forgets the brutal treatment of our ancestors. We should honor our ancestors for their willingness to stand up for their rights and we should build on their success by taking the opportunities available and making the most of them. We know that we will not be treated fairly nor paid equitably because this is the current state of America. There is no real hope of progress beyond the eventual death of the merchants of death. As parents of children of color we need to prepare them to survive and thrive until that day of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream arrives. Don’t get violent, get angry and achieve.

WHY ARE YOU SMILING?


Sitting here in Starbucks people watching and wondering if I have been dropped into a different world. It seems I am the only person not living in the big leagues. There is an orchard of i-devices everywhere. Each person with at least 2 i-devices while I am spoiling the orchard with other stuff. Additionally a sea of designer glasses and well-tailored outfits engulfs the room. In spite of it all I continue to hold my head up. I am floated a cup of plan coffee and I am thankful.
I feel like a mouse that has been invited to eat from the main table along with the family of the house. As I scan the room my smile gets bigger and I am not noticed. I continue to smile, because I can. I smile because I am living the American dream. I smile because in spite of all the bad, the American dream is still alive and attainable. I smile because America is living up to her potential.

I am hopeful and confident that the bigots have lost. I am certain of their demise and although there are many losses to come, there are more lasting victories ahead. I smile because I am confident that the America my princesses will come of age in will be a more perfection union. I am happy because MLK’s dream has arrived. This progress cannot be reversed. It is here to stay. I am smiling because of sacrifices made. I rejoice because my ancestors made a positive contribution. I am smiling because we the people are creating a more perfect union. The state of our Union is strong, confident and agile.
Why are you smiling today?

WHAT DO YOU DO ON MLK DAY?


MLK day is a Federal holiday celebrating the work and life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in advancing the cause of civil rights for all. His brand of resistance was non-violent and has inspired many around the world. The older I get the more I appreciate the importance of celebrating this great man. His view of civil rights was open and expansive and included great regard and advocacy for the poor. This and his opposition to the Vietnam war is not often discussed, but is worth the time to investigate.

The life and times of MLK is a testament to the strength of the founding ideals of American democracy. The ideas are great but the execution has been lacking from the start. The continued struggle to make this a more perfect union is what makes MLK day a worthy celebration. MLK day signifies hope and dreams. Dreams that my girls can and will have the opportunities needed for a truly fulfilling life.

The MLK example in its truest sense is inclusive and expansive. His dream is the American Dream. It is not of material gain but of Liberty for all. The dream asks me to be responsible for my fellow-man. The dream asks me to be responsible for the biosphere. The dream asks me to have the foresight to dream of a time when we all can free ourselves from the mental slavery. The slavery that still continues to hold the color of a person’s skin as a reflection of his intellect. That long walk to freedom of the mind is still ongoing.  I use to forget the struggles, but when you have kids there are things you cannot ignore. The anemic celebration of the ideals of MLK is one of those things that cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored because in some quarters there is still a deep-rooted disregard and disdain for his message. Depending on where you live it may seem as if this holiday is ignored or just tolerated. Why is that? Why is it that some businesses opt out? I am slightly offended but I should not be surprised?

I celebrate in part by reflecting on the words of Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela, because it continues to be a long walk to our redemption. How will you celebrate?