By Kenneth Brown
On January 21st we recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is also the day the media talks about something that will never happen in my lifetime and that something is racial harmony. How much has really changed after MLK gave his life for change?
There are so-called activist/pastors who are always talking about what America is doing to people of color and in doing so they are preaching separation on the sly. What those so-called black leaders should spend more time on, is getting people of color to the polls. That’s how America corrects itself, not with sermons, sit-ins or marches. A perfect example is the Civil Rights Bill. Why do I need a Civil Rights Bill? As an American, I should be covered by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The issues that result from discrimination and racism have more to do with what America is doing to itself than what it is doing to people of color. Consider how much further and better off America would be if the knowledge, energy, genius and opportunity of black people, gay people and women were allowed to flower uninterrupted. Even though America is a world leader, it is not using all its resources. The fact that my constitutional rights are being violated and overlooked on a daily basis says more about America then it does about me and it makes America look like a fraud.
Black people could form a serious voting block that would cause any candidate for Mayor to jump through burning hoops for their votes. It’s in the Mayor’s office where the first real steps toward equality can be made. Imagine the impact it would have on the black unemployment, if black owned businesses got an equal shot at city contracts, not to mention the opportunities for more blacks to start their own businesses. I’ve seen construction sites in the black communities of Boston and Atlanta, with more than 10 workers and not one of those workers was a person of color. At least as I was driving or walking pass. I’ve heard black people say the politicians don’t care about us and I believe most of them don’t. The reason I believe they don’t care is we don’t put them in office. So, we continue to do the one thing we seem to be able to do collectively and that’s cry the blues.
People of my race have been called Colored, Negro, Black, Afro-Americans and African-American, but what are these names supposed to mean or represent? I can understand what it means to be an Irish-American, Cuban-American or Asian American because these people can trace their roots back to Ireland, Cuba and Asia. It seems to me the people that were here before America became America are the real Americans. Did John Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson refer to themselves as English Americans? When I look in the mirror I see an American of African decent, but does that make me an African American? If I had family in Africa or knew where I came from in Africa I would feel different. However my family tree begins in South Carolina. I am not separating myself from America, even with all its faults. So, just call me an American who happens to be black.
Maybe I’m out of touch, but there are times when I am totally confused by the direction and/or decisions made by some black college students. A perfect example of my confusion was clearly illustrated by the black football players at the University of Mississippi. The nickname for the University of Mississippi was “The Rebels”, their mascot was a confederate soldier and the fans wave confederate flags at their football games. Why would a black youth play for a school that is still supporting a culture that would put them back in slavery if they could get away with it?
After all, the Rebels and the Confederates gave their lives in an attempt to keep slavery alive. Would a Jewish youth attend a school whose nickname was “Nazis? Whose mascot was an SS/Gestapo officer and its fans waved swastikas? I doubt it. Although I like college sports, the University of Mississippi is one school I won’t watch. Even though the school is now changing its name that won’t change its culture.
On the cover of the November 29th, 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is a picture of five female students of Spelman College. They are holding a sign that reads, “Young Democrats of Spelman College.” The caption surrounding this picture says, “Should I vote for Obama because of my race? or should I vote for Clinton because of my Gender? If one of my daughters were in this picture I would go to the school and demand a refund. What does race and/or gender have to do with who would make the best president of the United States? It’s that kind of thinking that has America in the position it’s in now. In the 2000 and 2004 elections George Bush said he was a Christian, and as a result, the religious right formed a voting block that helped him become president. The fact that Bush was far less qualified than Gore and Kerry meant nothing to the people that voted for him and now he is well on his way to becoming the worse President in American history, at least according to some of the polls. I truly hope these young sisters don’t vote for the next president on the basis of race or gender. I hope they examine the issues and come to the conclusion that Obama or Clinton will make America, America again.
There have been quite a few cases of white cops shooting and killing black men and according to the cops in each case the shooting was unintentional. But why is it that white cops never shoot and kill a white man unintentionally? Why is it that black cops never shoot and kill white men unintentionally? It’s always white cops shooting and killing black men.
Black people can march, sing, sit in and demonstrate all they want, but until fighting racism is a goal of white Americans nothing will change. Martin Luther King once told us he had a dream that one day black and white children will walk hand and hand. Hopefully he woke up before he died so that he could see that Atlanta will have a William Tecumseh Sherman Day Parade before racial harmony is achieved in America.