I, Too, Have a Dream

Society as a whole and black Americans in particular seem to have lost their sense of purpose, their moral compass, their ‘home training’, as it were.  People love to play the blame game, especially when it comes to blaming their failure on factors that have little to nothing to do with their failure.  I’m sure my evil twin is all fired up about this, but she’s sleeping in today, so I’m kinda writing ‘her’ blog today.  On this day that we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I, too, have a dream.  Although not as grand or as Earth-shaking as his dream, it can still make a difference.

I have a dream that the people in America will heal themselves from within and put the blame game to rest.  To the white man in Mississippi who claims he lost his place in the college of his choice to a less-qualified black man, I say to you: what makes the Brother less qualified than you to go to school, especially when he probably went to a high school with a high dropout rate and struggled to get straight A’s while working after school to help support his widowed father while you may have enjoyed a more pleasant adolescence?  Walk in his shoes, my European brother, before you judge.  To the Brother who uses the race card as an excuse for being angry and selling urban pharmaceuticals, I say to you: who taught you that selling drugs was the only option for the black man to get out of poverty?  Barack Obama, the late Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and every black mayor, governor, senator, congressman, lawyer, doctor, soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, astronaut, scientist, preacher, teacher, policeman, fireman, and judge is living proof that the dope man is not your role model.

To those who treat our Asian brothers and sisters with scorn and contempt for opening businesses in poor commuities, two points need to be made.  First, these Asians and their parents and grandparents came to America to escape death from their own governments for various reasons so they could breathe easier and breathe the free air we, as home-grown Americans, take for granted.  Second, what are we, as home-grown Americans, willing to do to build and own businesses in poor communities, to clean up those communities, and to lift people in these neighborhoods out of poverty and into the promised land?

As a matter of fact, what does the promised land look like to you?  If it looks like a spoiled wealthy person’s conspicuously consumptive playground, give it up: very few people live like that, and those that do rarely learn lessons of cooperation, moderation, temperance, or responsibilty.  If, however, it looks like a place with clean air, water, and food; where a child of any color can look up to both the beauty salon owner and the model as role models, where Grandma and Granddad can live peaceably and teach young people valuable lessons in life, where the doctor and the mail carrier replace the crack man and the lady of ill repute as role models, and where children can learn about the shared and individual history of the people of this land in a sane, objective, calm manner, then you’re on the right track.  That’s just my dream.

Let’s face it: if we were all skinless and hairless, how would we be able to treat each other with scorn, contempt, and hatred?  Wake up, children of Light, and live like you and others were skinless and hairless.

V.

Thank You, Dr. King

 This speech was given by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963 at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.:

“I HAVE A DREAM” (1963)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends – so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi – from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring – when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics – will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


Distribution statement: Accepted as part of the Douglass Archives of American Public Address (http://douglass.speech.nwu.edu) on May 26, 1999. Prepared by D. Oetting (http://nonce.com/oetting).

Thank you, Dr. King and countless others of all races, for making life sweeter for people who didn’t exist in your time, myself included.  Because of you I can ride anywhere on the bus I want (so long as I can find a seat 🙂 ), date whomever is pleasant regardless of race,  drink at whatever water fountain I want to, eat where I want to at a restaurant, and live where I choose.  Because of you and the soldiers of peace I can do things I wouldn’t have been able to do 100 years ago because of both my race and my gender and 50 years ago because of my race.  I can’t repay the debt my generation and I owe you; all I can do is spread the seeds of love and recruit soldiers of peace.

Happy birthday, Dr. King.

V.

A Day for Oatmeal and Blankets

Where I live it snows in winter, and today is no exception.  Days like today require a hot bowl of oatmeal, a nice hand-knit sweater, and a blanket.  A fire in the fireplace would be a huge bonus, but since not everyone has a fireplace I’ll understand if you curl up around your stove or a heating register.

I intended on speaking about high fructose corn syrup today; that blog will have to be delayed for another time as I savor a big bowl of oatmeal with chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a touch of brown sugar mixed in for flavor.  You may have whatever breakfast makes you feel good on a cold winter’s day (if you are one of those lucky souls who lives in the Southern Hemisphere, you are experiencing summer right now and may or may not be reading this right now.  If you are one of those souls who lives at or near the equator you have no clearly discernable seasonal change, but rather subtle temperature and climate fluctuations).

The sweater and the blanket warm us on the outside, while the hot breakfast warms us on the inside, and I’m not talking just about the food temperature.  Hot breakfasts remind us of home and family; consider all the restaurants and diners with “Mom’s” in the name, not to mention other familiar foodstuffs with family members’ titles in the product’s name: In the United States we have Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Uncle Ben’s converted rice, Grandma’s molasses, Dad’s root beer, and a whole host of other products that have nearly every member of the family mentioned.  In other countries this may be the same way; I only mentioned a few U.S. products because, well, I’m American and am more familiar with American products.

Consider the painting by American artist Norman Rockwell, “Freedom from Want”.  In it, the grandmother is serving a Thanksgiving turkey.  Hot food, warm blankets, and toasty sweaters remind us of that soft place we all need to fall on: loved ones.  Even if you are currently flying solo, you always have at least one person who, if it were your choice, would be wrapped up in a blanket and splitting that bowl of oatmeal with you.  Whether that person is half a world away or right in the next room, grab a handknit sweater and snuggle up with your favorite person, even if only in memory; in our memories, our loved ones are always right where we need them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just have to scoop up this last bit of oatmeal.

V.

You Thought I Was Kidding about the Meatloaf Recipes?

Hi, all,

Now that you’ve met my most unsavory twin, it’s time to relax and consider a delicious meatloaf recipe for dinner tonight:

Meatloaf for First-Timers, All-Timers, and Old-Timers

ingredients

3 pounds lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, bison, or a combination

½ to 1 cup dry bread crumbs

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons Worcestershire or steak sauce

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup ketchup or barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (I’m American; I don’t ‘speak’ metric well.  International users of this recipe will have to do their own conversions).  In a large bowl mix all ingredients except ketchup well.  Place meat mixture in a long baking pan; shape into a French-bread-loaf-like thing.  Spread ketchup on top of loaf.  Bake for 75 to 90 minutes or until center of meatloaf reaches 160° Fahrenheit (or whatever the ‘safe cooked-meat’ standard is in your country).  Drain grease off ; transfer to warm serving platter.  Slice and eat.  Refrigerate any leftovers (if you have any; I can’t seem to keep leftovers at my house, even for a meatloaf of this size, because of my large yet lovably goofy pseudohusband).  Serve with your favorite hot grain and a nice dinner vegetable.

Serves 8 generously (under normal circumstances).

After you try out this recipe, send in your favorite meatloaf recipes in the comment box.

V.

Your New Year

Hi, all,

The year of our Lord, 2007, has now slipped into history and 2008 is barely a week old.  You probably forgot about that New Year’s resolution to become healthier as you munch on a box of cream cakes and drape your coat on the exerbike you got for Christmas.  That resolution to quit smoking may have slipped your mind when you lit your cigarette just now.  Even that resolution to revere your Creator and His/Her name may have fallen by the wayside as you gave an inappropriate salute to a driver who cut you off in morning traffic.

I’m not here to fuss at you — that’s my evil twin’s job.  (You have met that witch, right?)  What I’m here to do is let you know that we all slip up from time to time (as a matter of fact, I’ve been trying to lose the same 50 pounds I gained since I hit thirty, on top of the 50 pounds I was already overweight.  I’ll look like a supermodel one day. 😉 ).  Perfection is for mannequins and six-foot-tall, 19-year-old glamazons who weigh 75 pounds, so don’t worry if your resolutions don’t go pinpoint-perfect, so long as you do something every day to reach your goal.  As for myself, I’m reducing the amount of high-fructose corn syrup-containing products in my diet: God invented sugar, honey, and fruit to satisfy our need for sweet; what the hell do we need with high-fructose corn syrup (the most insidious of manmade inventions) to sweeten our beverages and other edibles?  The body can process sugar, honey, and natural fructose efficiently; not so much for high-fructose corn syrup, as any extra not used by the body is converted directly to fat (and there’s always extra, as so many modern foods contain it).

Keep me posted on your New Year’s resolutions and let me know how you’re progressing.

V.

I’m Back

Hi, all,

Happy New Year.  The year of our Lord, two thousand eight, promises to be a year of new beginnings, just as every year does.  We may in our land, for the first time, have a woman become President of the United States.  We might, for the first time ever, realize the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream and elect a biracial man for President of the United States.  Whoever becomes the president has a great responsibility in leading the third most heavily populated nation in the world, a constituency 300 million strong.  May the best person win.

For those who need a less-than-perky web log of my grayest thoughts and purges, I have a second weblog in the cooker.  Here’s the address: http://www.eatlava.wordpress.comWARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND/OR UNWHOLESOME THEMES.  SEND THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE TO ANOTHER ROOM IF YOU CHOOSE TO READ THIS.  Even a hopeful, semi-perky person needs to clean the sludge of negative energy every so often.  I’ve been working on a couple of novels; hence, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I apologize.  Look for more rivers of fruit juice here (or more streams of magma at my ‘evil twin’ blog), and clean off that porch swing.  The best part about the porch swing in your soul is that you and Grandad get to sit on it in January or in July, whether he’s here or in Heaven.  Make a wonderful new year for yourself and for those in your life.

V.