I have lived my entire life in the South. I was not quite a year old when the March on Selma took place. I’ve seen Klansmen in their robes riding in the backs of trucks, waving their flags, in broad daylight. I remember a time when white people threw around the N-word without first looking around to see who would hear them.
The 60’s were a turbulent time in my part of the world, and it was turbulent in my little developing mind. I was at church every Sunday, where I was taught the words of Jesus, then watched how those words were twisted around to justify the injustice all around me.
In the 50 years I’ve been on this planet, I have seen some things change for the better, but some things are the same shitty gifts wrapped up in different packages.
As a white woman “of a certain age” (that’s what you call a woman who’s old if you don’t want to piss her off), I have learned much from the words of Dr. King. He continues to challenge me to be my best self in all that I do. He encourages me to be upset at what I see, but instead of drowning in anger, to use love to make this world a better place. And, above all, to always move forward.
This is a short list of dreams that I have for America and the world, as I trudge this road to Happy Destiny:
I have a dream that one day white people will no longer believe the lie that poor plus black equals “up to no good.” Black people shouldn’t be thought of as “out to get something for nothing.” Hell, we ALL want something for nothing. If we didn’t, sales and coupons wouldn’t be such a big part of doing business. What are you REALLY pissed off about? Afraid you might not get something for free that somebody else did? I guess then that Jesus didn’t mean you when he was talking about how to conduct oneself in Matthew 6.
I have a dream that, one day, segregation will be a thing of the past. We thought that once segregation wasn’t the unwritten law of the land, the races would intermingle. That hasn’t happened. Drive through most any town around here and you’ll see that most whites live close to each other and most blacks live close to each other. Schools remain segregated, because kids go to the school closest to them. Churches are still segregated. And we still have incidents like this one that happened to Ms. Terry Turner of Limestone County, Alabama. So what changed?
I have a dream that one day we will get over our obsession with sagging pants. Young kids wear pants too large with the waist down below their butt cheeks, then have trouble walking because they can’t keep their pants up. Meanwhile, the “responsible adult” contingency gets all up at arms about how vile a practice this is. Look, I think it’s a ridiculous way to dress, but is it really hurting anybody? No? Then shut up already. The surest way to see the practice continue is to keep harping about it.
I have a dream that one day we will have a government that is run by a diverse group of politicians, not just old white men. To be sure, we do have more women now than before, but some of them are Lurleen B. Wallaces– female faces promoting old white guy policies.
I have a dream that one day we will quit acting out of hatred built on fear, and act out of love. I was an angry kid, and I wanted to “fight the good fight” and “win the war” on injustice. Silly me. Any first year physics student knows Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To say I am fighting a war means I have identified those who think differently from me as enemies, and that one of us will eventually lose. But love has no losers. When we love one another, we all win. It’s difficult to practice, and I still catch myself stirring up a good self-righteous anger at times. There’s lots of energy in anger. But it doesn’t really change anything, does it?
Will I see my dreams come to pass? I don’t know. Probably not in my lifetime. But I have seen the Promised Land, thanks to Dr. King. And while I no longer have the wings to fly, or the energy to run, I will walk until I can no more, then I will crawl, but, most importantly, I will keep moving forward.