I know right off the bat some may see that title and automatically jump to conclusions, but the reality is that while so much time has passed since Martin Luther King first made his I Have A Dream speech, unfortunately our ideals and beliefs haven’t.
I’ve written many pieces on race during the past few years because to me it’s an important topic, one that perhaps needs to be written more of and not just by those ethnic backgrounds that are considered minorities by the mainstream but by anyone that is human and living in a world that they want to make better.
In response to these pieces I’ve been called a traitor to my race, I’ve been called a cunt and dumb bitch; I’ve even had my safety threatened. I’ve actually been called racist by those with a predominately European background who told me that they don’t see race when they look around.
And it got me thinking.
Well, not just me, but everyone that I posed this question to that’s in my life. First, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that those who believe they don’t see skin color are those who actually have never had the melanin in their skin be an issue.
Unfortunately the reality is that only those who look white have the privilege of not seeing skin color because they have never been the subject of racism, discrimination or violent and unfair behavior based solely on their skin color.
But for everyone else who gets asked to step out of their car when they get pulled over, or those who get bypassed by a less qualified candidate for a job or even just be followed around a store because they are perceived a certain way know that the reality is they can’t just take off their skin color.
The fact is to say that we don’t see someone’s skin color is to neglect their personal and family heritage.
To say that I don’t see the color of my best friend’s skin is to say that I don’t in fact see her. It’s to use my uncomfortableness about race as an excuse and instead of having a conversation about it, to just generalize it and tell her that her history doesn’t matter.
The reality is I do see her skin color and I don’t love her in spite of it, but because of it. I love her because of who she is and while I don’t particularly care if she is yellow, brown or white, the truth is the color of her skin has shaped who she is and I love her because of it.
I have light skin, but I don’t consider myself white and have been known to hold a piece of copy paper up to my skin in comparison that is admittedly heavy in sarcasm. It’s true, I have a lot of European descent in me, but, I also have Spanish, Lebanese and Syrian heritage as well---so am I truly white by popular standards?
The ironic thing is because of how I look---I am; just as those with darker skin are automatically thought of as black or African American when in truth the majority of their heritage could be European. But I would never deny them any part of their heritage by saying I don’t see skin color when I look at them, I just wouldn’t be ignorant enough to think that it actually defines them, or that they should be treated differently because of it.
My second daughter was a stubborn little thing right from the beginning and thanks to her I have a scar on my stomach that I will have for the rest of my life. To have someone say they don’t see my scar is to ignore that entire life experience that shaped me, my daughter and my family. While I am not defined by my scar, it is an important part of who I am.
We are not our skin color, but it still is an essential part of who we are.
The point of Dr. King’s speech all those years ago wasn’t for us to look at each other as some homogenized society of sameness but rather to look, notice and appreciate those differences. The idea was that it’s not our differences that should separate us but our similarities that should bring us together.
Now recently we’ve had to endure the comments about shithole countries, and I suppose my only wish is that we get out of Trump’s term as a nation without actually becoming a shithole country or hated by the majority of the world.
Sometimes we need to be pushed to a certain point in order for us to finally get up and take a stand.
I understand that not everyone thinks like I do. I understand that people might read this and become upset, but I ask why? I don’t unfriend you or write hateful comments when I see posts you make about loving Trump and how awful Obama was because while I disagree with your points of view I also respect you enough to appreciate our differences.
Differences. It’s what makes us who we are, it’s what defines us, and perhaps it’s time to also make it a reason for us to celebrate who we are.
On this historic day let’s pause for a moment and reflect on Dr. King’s dream, because I too have a dream in which the sons of slaves and those of slaveholders could sit down at the same table and find peace and respect for one another.
Because I have a dream in which not only children can play but also grow up in a world where they will not be judged by their skin color but by who they are; that when we look at our brothers and sisters we will see them for their character, for the space they occupy in this world and how they are positively affecting their small portion of it.
I have a dream that someday Dr. King’s dream will come true, my only hope is that I will still be here to enjoy and celebrate that day.
The following is a link to Dr. King’s Speech, August 28th, 1953 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm
Dear Dr. King, We haven't forgotten, it's just taking longer than we thought. xx KR