Yesterday, the United States dedicated a memorial to the life and achievements of Martin Luther King. The America that exists today is a far different place, thanks to him and many others, as institutional racism and discrimination is a thing of the past. The nation has elected a man of black African descent as President, one of the top-tier candidates to win the Republican nomination to run for President in the next election is an African-American; yet many cannot get past their obsession with skin color as manifested by the shameless racial exploitation of the American Left coupled with the vituperation directed at Herman Cain, a black conservative.
There is an assumption by the Left in the United States that race and racial matters are the purview of the so-called "progressives." It is as if they not only own the subject matter but the people whom they categorize as minorities, particularly if they are of African descent. As with any spoiled child clutching a favorite plaything, they are loath to allow anyone to escape the plantation they have erected and the woeful education and indoctrination of the inhabitants contained therein. Within this structure there exist many black overseers, well compensated and allowed to sit at the same table with the progressive power structure, who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
The status quo is the ongoing need to maintain the monolithic voting bloc that is today's African-American community. That can only be done by the deliberate ill-education of the people, the inculcation of an entitlement mentality, and the demonization of a defined "white establishment" as the cause of all the woes within the black community.
This mindset and many left-wing policies, under the false guise of compassion, have resulted in the near destruction of a once dominant family structure, the religious foundation, and independent determination that allowed a formerly persecuted people to survive under the worst of circumstances: slavery and the Jim Crow era.
The American Left can never allow the United States, regardless of the substantive progress made over the past fifty years, to relegate the nation's original sin to the past. Even if that means fomenting racial hostility and intimidation as well as keeping a significant part of the American population in tacit servitude by its dependence on the state. Such vile and self-serving tactics are contemptible and beneath that of a great nation. A nation, because of its founding principle of respect for the individual, was able, after many decades, to overcome the legacy of slavery and state-sponsored discrimination extant at its beginning.
I came to the United States in 1951. At that time, this was a segregated country. Discrimination based on race was something I could not understand nor had ever experienced. I lived, once adopted, in a quiet quasi-Southern town where I saw firsthand the invidious nature of rank bigotry and racism.
My adoptive father managed two movie theatres, one in the white part of town and the other in the black. On one occasion, he took me to his office at the white theatre and then to the one in the black theatre. This strange circumstance prompted to me to ask him why the makeup of the audience at the two theatres so starkly different, he replied, "That is just the way it is." Not satisfied with his answer, I asked why the dark-skinned people not only attended one theatre but all lived on one side of the river while the whites lived on the other. He said, "That's the way it is in this country -- people prefer to live with their own races and not mix, besides it's the law." I replied that I thought it was wrong. I had never viewed or perceived the nature of a person by his or her skin color.
While still in Europe after the War and living on my own on the streets of a completely destroyed city, I was often given food and treated more kindly by black (either American or African colonial) soldiers than their white counterparts. I did not view them as being different because of their skin color, nor did they view me differently because of mine.
Race relations within the United States were something I could never accept. The issue of civil rights remained at the forefront of my consciousness, and on a mild summer day in August of 1963, while attending college in Washington, D.C., I was one of 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech. For the next five years I participated in voter registration drives, demonstrations, marches and political campaigns to once and for all put an end to the ultimate stain on the American character.
What we fought so hard to end was institutional racism, knowing that in time, the attitudes of the people would change. This for the most part has been accomplished within less than forty years -- a truly remarkable accomplishment in such a short time as compared to other nations. We did not pursue these changes in order to give those, today, the opportunity to exploit race as a means of accomplishing their devious ends, either monetary or political and certainly not to relegate the bulk of the African-American population into a dependency culture.
Forty-six years ago, while on a voter registration drive, I walked up to a ramshackle house near a small town in southern Maryland. There on the porch quietly rocking in her chair was the bent figure of an elderly black woman. I went up to her. She turned and looked at me. Our eyes met. I could see in those dark sad eyes the years of pain and suffering she had endured. After a look that penetrated to my very core, she insisted I stay saying: "Your eyes tell me your one of us."
Her name was Acadie and she was originally from Louisiana. She told me she was 92 years old, the daughter of slaves, born in 1873. We talked of her youth and hardscrabble existence in the fields; of the terror wrought by the Ku Klux Klan seeking revenge against blacks for the difficult life for all in Louisiana after the Civil War; of hangings and burnings and near starvation as crops failed for lack of rain or floods; of her and her family packing up their few belongings and with a mule and a cart setting off for anywhere north only to find more subtle but still virulent discrimination; and of losing her husband killed in a railroad accident when she was 35 leaving her with 4 children to support and raise; all of whom she eventually outlived.
We sat on that porch, with its peeling paint and rotting boards, for two hours or more, the daughter of slaves and a displaced war orphan from across the ocean, bound together by past life experiences but optimistic about the future. When the time came to leave she gently took my hand and held it her gnarled fingers long ago deformed by the ravages of arthritis and said: "The times are a'changin, I hope my people will listen to God's word to forgive and lead a good and honest life. May God bless you always."
I never saw Acadie again. I hope she was able to witness the transformation of American attitudes toward intolerance and discrimination. But it was her determination and that of so many before and after her that made the prospect of black man being elected president achievable. I wonder what she would think of those in the black community, including Barack Obama, fomenting racial intolerance or purposely denigrating other African-Americans in order to retain their power and most of all deliberately pursuing polices destined to keep the bulk of black society from achieving the American dream. Having had the privilege to meet her and so many like her here in the United States, I think I know.
The time has come to stop being intimidated by racial rhetoric and guilt for the past. The generations upon whose shoulders the guilt rests have since passed into the mists of history. The challenges facing the United States today are the most severe in nearly seven decades and will affect all, regardless of skin color. The American people cannot be distracted by racial exploitation and must not be afraid to call out those who deliberately traffic in divisive rhetoric or actions regardless of skin color or political affiliation.
Yesterday, October 9th 2011, the United States dedicated a memorial to the life and achievements of Martin Luther King. The America that exists today is a far different place, thanks to him and many others, as institutional racism and discrimination is a thing of the past. The nation has elected a man of black African descent as President, one of the top-tier candidates to win the Republican nomination to run for President in the next election is an African-American; yet many cannot get past their obsession with skin color as manifested by the shameless racial exploitation of the American Left coupled with the vituperation directed at Herman Cain, a black conservative.