Has Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King’s Dream Come True?
One side of the argument is that the United States is in post-racial times and people like President Barack Obama ignites racial tension for political gain and social engineering. The other side of the argument is that American race relations have improved in some ways and have taken steps backwards in others. Dr. King’s legacy without a doubt challenges us put anÂ end to this controversy.
Why Can’t We Just Be Colorblind?
The Christian influence on American society leads to the assumption that if we treat people like we would want to be treated (i.e., applying the Golden Rule), society would no longer suffer from discrimination. This is essentially what King’s message espouses. His message also recognizes that America has not fared well in applying those values. The Colorblind assumption is that if we stop talking about race and treat each other with brotherly and sisterly love, all the racial ills of society will disappear. Recent research on Implicit Bias indicates that our prejudices and biases are so deep-seated that we seldom realize that we have wronged someone (e.g., in hiring). It is when the behavior becomes part of institutional patterns that the consequences begin to create systematic disparities that make it difficult to continue drinking the colorblind cool aide. When policy makers use a colorblind approach to create new laws, the consequences almost certainly impact certain groups more than others–no matter how unintentional (See CanÂ Social Security Reform Be Colorblind?). America cannot become post racial until we make the unconscious conscious and work towardsÂ moving forwardÂ from there.
Does President Obama Make Race Relations Worse?
While the president’s intervention in the Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates’ run-in with the police showed that he falls considerably short in cultural diversity mediation expertise, few of us have the skills or the guts to even give it a try. More importantly, African American economic stability overall continues to slide even after nearly 8 years of his presidency. That is the litmus test and his presidency fails in this area. But, poor people in general are less fortunate. Consider the increase in poor white American male suicides and drug overdose victims. They are clearly struggling with despair. While support from under educated white Americans tend to bolster ‘Trumpismâ€ (a relentless campaign against political correctness in free speech) in the polls, it is difficult to picture how the delicate social fabric of the society will hold up under an environment of public insults across cultures–especially in conceal and carry jurisdictions. From this point of view, President Obama appears to be at least trying to keep the weapons out their hands while gently begging for thoughtful public conversation.
If American society was post racial, there would be many more multiracial people demographically. The slow, but steady progress towards a colorblind society requires us to blur the cognitive boundaries between our ears by breaking down the meaningless racial categories. I have repeatedly stated that President Obama missed a golden opportunity when he chose to not promote his multiracial identity. He was too willing to allow us to call him our black president. What we need is for him to expand our cognitive boundaries to view race with more complexity. It appears that the television series Scandal has done more to promote racial harmony given the increase in white male and African American female relationships. That is what Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King ultimately meant as he was smart enough to realize that race is inherently divisive. Are we there yet?
What do you think?
[author image=”http://diversityofficermagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/billy_freda.jpg” ]Billy Vaughn, PhD CDP, Editor-in-Chief, Diversity Officer Magazine. He also trains diversity professionals in the Diversity Executive Leadership Academy. Click on the link toÂ learn more aboutÂ Dr. BillyÂ or contact him via the site’s contact form.[/author]