Bring It On!

Is his Dream on life support?

April 4th, 2008 | by Dusty |

He was only 39 years old when he was killed on the second floor balcony of a motel in Memphis TN on April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King Jr has been gone from this earth forty years this week. The day before his death, he delivered his “I have been to the Mountaintop” speech at Mason Temple, wherein he spoke of the bomb threat that had been called in on the plane he was traveling on. He also spoke about not fearing his own death:

“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Days of riots hit our nation. I was fifteen years old when King was taken from us. But I remember the events as if it was yesterday. I remember watching the news reports of the riots in major cities here in the United States. The National Guard was called out and thousands were arrested, many were killed as well.

The sickening irony was not wasted on me that violence broke out from sea to shining sea over the death of a man that always advocated non-violence as the method to attain change in our country.

So how have things changed in these United States of America forty years on? People of color still live in poverty in a disproportionate level compared to their white counterparts. The unemployment rate for people of color is still vastly higher than for white folks. Inner city schools, mostly populated by African American’s and Hispanics, graduate a lower percentage of their students than those of the suburban areas of our nation. A few examples of the graduation rates in major urban areas:

Detroit-24.9%

Indianapolis-30.5%

Cleveland-34.1%

This article in USA Today shows the huge disparity between the 50 largest urban versus suburban graduation rates. Its appalling and disgusting. There are of course other areas where people of color are getting the short end of the stick. Healthcare is one such area. As this Washington Post articles states:

Black Americans still get far fewer operations, tests, medications and other life-saving treatments than whites, despite years of efforts to erase racial disparities in health care and help African Americans live equally long and healthy lives, according to three major studies being published today.

The sub-prime mortgage mess shows us another side of racism, that of the predatory lender that discriminates based on race and location. It used to be called ‘red-lining’ and it was outlawed, but it still goes on in spite of laws passed. As this New York Times article shows, its not always about bad credit, sometimes its about being the wrong color:

Consider two neighborhoods in the Detroit area. One, located in the working-class suburb of Plymouth, is 97 percent white with a median income of $51,000 in 2000. To the east, a census tract in Detroit just inside Eight Mile Road has a very similar median income, $49,000, but the population there is 97 percent black.

Last year, about 70 percent of the loans made in the Detroit neighborhood carried a high interest rate — defined as 3 percentage points more than the yield on a comparable Treasury note — while in Plymouth just 17 percent did.

In 2006, a year before the big sub-prime meltdown, African-Americans were 2.3 times more likely, and Hispanics twice as likely to get shafted with high-cost loans than their white counterparts, based on an analysis of loans reported under the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Don’t tell me again that it’s all about bad credit, it can be and is also about racism rearing its ugly head.

We will never know how different America would be today if Martin Luther King Junior had not been slain and allowed to continue his work. His vision of bringing American’s around to judging people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character still exists, but at the end of the day its far from being realized in 2008.

Crossposted at Leftwing Nutjob

  1. 2 Responses to “Is his Dream on life support?”

  2. By Jet Netwal on Apr 4, 2008 | Reply

    What’s happening in the schools is terribly unfair. The Orlando school in Pine Hills, a heavily black community, graduates only 42%. The high school in my area, just 25 minutes north graduates 75%, and their dropout rate is half of the Orlando school.

    Systemic structural racism kills the opportunity of many needed minds. It doesn’t make the ones remaining better, it just diminishes the pool of potential for our country.

  3. By Dusty on Apr 4, 2008 | Reply

    Education should be one of our top priorities..it would help wipe out so many other problems if we graduated the majority of our children in these here United but really Divided States.

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