ALPERN AT LARGE - With the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, many are publicly commemorating this iconic moment, which ranks up there with President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as one of the most important proclamations in American history.
Yet with a nation led by its first African-American President now in his second term, America appears to be anything but "post-racial" with respect to the tragic killings in Florida and Oklahoma of two young men. Both killings are up for considerable debate as to whether racism was involved, but many of the problems surrounding those killings are tied up in those wishing to polarize the nation to further their own political causes.
Which has left me with my own Dream, an American Dream that was in large part founded on the American History I learned in the fifth, eighth and tenth grades some 30-40 years ago ... back before the term "politically correct" caught on.
I dream of an era where a person is judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.
I dream of an era where one can work for a black man, and know he was not chosen because he was a black man but because he was the RIGHT man (that dream came true for me, I'm happy to say).
I dream of an era where one can state that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are horrible and phony, but self-proclaimed and media-appointed, substitutes for the late Reverend King ... without being called a racist.
I dream of being able to demand a new era of leaders who happen to be black or brown or white, rather than leaders who capitalize on their skin color ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can decry black-on-black crime, and brown-on-black crime, and demand that the deaths of young black and brown youths receive the same media attention as the deaths of white youths ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can proclaim that the most dangerous (and likely fatal) threat for an innocent black man is not from an overzealous Neighborhood Watch volunteer but is rather from a car filled with other black men asking, "Where you from?"...without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can distinguish between individuals who want to learn English and learn American history and culture, and who want to forsake their country of birth--and those who do not--and proclaim that only the former are immigrants, while the latter are not and never can or should be Americans ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where I can proclaim that the United States is the greatest nation on earth, not just because of its economic or military power but because of its founding principles (and despite the checkered history that all nations and peoples have) ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one need not be ashamed of openly being a Republican or a Democrat ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can go to a Tea Party rally and demand an end to taxation without representation, or attend an Occupy rally and demand an end to parasitizing corporate practices, without being labeled a "tea bagger" or a racist or an anarchist ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can proclaim there are always two points of view, and that both usually need to be heard, and taken seriously, be they conservative or liberal, without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can proclaim that there are too darn many bad boys, and too darn few good men, without being called a racist (or a sexist, or any other pejorative title).
I dream of an era where one can proclaim that female sexual promiscuity is anything but "empowering" to women, and is the worst thing that a woman can do to achieve respect in the eyes of men and other women ... without being called a racist (or a sexist, or any other pejorative title).
I dream of an era where a family can reasonably survive on only one income, and where a couple are married before having children, and where couples are strongly encouraged to stay together and fall in love with the same person all over again instead of chasing other people (particularly when they have children) ... without being called a racist (or a sexist, or any other pejorative title).
I dream of an era where Jews, or blacks, or Latinos can gain respect and acceptance by their own community, and by other communities, by demanding more of their own communities instead of demanding that other communities give more and pay more for their own communities' desires and needs ... without being called a racist.
I dream of an era where one can protest and criticize the President, Attorney General, Secretary of State or anyone else elected to higher office ... without being called a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, zealot or any other McCarthyist tactic meant to shut the protester up.
And I dream of an era where one's skin color, as with one's eye or hair color, is as irrelevant to judging a person's character as is their height, religion or political affiliation, and where one's skin color is only relevant to my own profession--that of dermatology--which recognizes that dark- and light-skinned individuals exist in all ethnicities, and that the melanin in one's skin has no relation whatsoever to the brilliance of one's mind or capabilities.
So when will we be finally able to be free at last, free at last, free at last--thank God Almighty!--free at last?
Vol 11 Issue 69
Pub: Aug 27, 2013