It’s never lost on me that I am in the first generation of Americans who has never known segregation. My school classrooms have always been integrated and I feel uncomfortable then there is not any diversity. I don’t understand the premis of racism. I can only surmise that the problem arises out of a difference of cultures. While it is true that the African American race was seen as inferior due to slavery, that notion has been proven wrong countless times in my lifetime. I think people are comfortable with the culture they have always known and fear what is not familiar to them.
There has always been some race or culture that has been blamed or segregated through human history. In our country, the Blacks, Chinese, Irish, Catholics, Italian, and Hispanic people have been targeted at some point. During World War II, we put thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps out of fear they were secret agents of the Japanese Empire.
I truly and honestly think the Native American people have had it the worst because we still have the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Our own government treats them like second class citizens if they’re lucky. While we can’t go back and change the past, I think more can be done to help those people and end the stupid policies that keep them in poverty.
As far as racism goes, I think we have come a very long way in reaching Dr. King’s dream. Yes, there is still work to do, but we no longer have the wide spread systemic segregation and Jim Crow laws on the books. By and large, people don’t tolerate outright racism any longer. We still need to shine the light of truth into the shadows to root out the remaining racism that still occurs, but I don’t think it’s as big of a problem as it used to be.
I have wandered why James Lewis always seems so angry and is always fighting for racial justice. It occurred to me that he views the word a bit different than I do. I have no memories of the way things were when he was growing up. I wasn’t born when the marches happened. His view of where we are at with Dr. King’s speech is vastly different than mine, but I don’t think that makes him or me bad people. I wish there was more dialog between his generation and mine so that we can work together to stamp out the remaining vestiges of racism without committing racist acts in the process.
I’m grateful Dr. King was able to get the nation talking about race issues. I’m grateful LBJ was able to pass the civil rights bill. I think Americans should stop and remember that we are a nation of immigrants and of many cultures. There is no single American culture. Yes, there’s the mom, baseball, and apple pie, but we have so much more in our culture now. We should embrace the different cultures while helping our immigrants to assimilate. We should do more to help people learn English instead of complaing about why they don’t. Honestly, there aren’t that many programs out there to help immigrants assimilate. We can’t really complain about it unless we’re trying to do something about it.
It all boils down to loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. We need to show compassion, care, love, and tolerance when we don’t understand something that is different. Yes, there are dangerous people out there who want to hurt us, but that is not an excuse for being rude and trying to slam the door in their faces. We can be vigilent and encourage our immigrants to be as well so that we can all be safe and live next to one another in peace.
Thank you, Dr King. Thank you for standing up and telling us what we needed to hear. Thank you for your life you gave because you saw a better America. You died showing us the way and we have never been the same since.