Dreams: Are they of the past or a reflection of the present?

Since the dawn of time, wars have been fought as a sheer consequence of an us versus them mentality. The Crusades, The Holocaust and The World Wars have all occurred as a result of acknowledging the differences of others and finding them offensive.

On Aug. 28, 1963 a man by the name of Martin Luther King noticed this destructive pattern and delivered his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech to a quarter of a million people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

His dream advocated for racial equality, peace and harmony among people of all walks of life. King, along with many other civil rights activists , led a peaceful resistance against an opposition of hatred, division and disharmony.

In light of Black History Month, has King’s speech been realized in modern day America? And has society began to embrace the notion of peace and equality?

After a brief analysis of the latest news and the events that are occurring nationally and internationally, it is clear that the answer is quite relative. In many ways society has progressed and changed for the better.

As a person of color, one is no longer subjected to having to utilize separate facilities or attend a separate educational institution as a consequence of racial segregation.

However, on the other side of the coin, prejudice of any kind and relics of a darker time are still present. For instance, not very long ago the Italian Fashion House by the name of Gucci released a clothing item that had an uncanny resemblance to Blackface.

According to USA Today, as a result of this, “Gucci announced a major push Friday to step up diversity hiring as part of a long-term plan to build cultural awareness.” They have also pulled the sweater from the market.

The question is, was this clothing item an accidental creation? Or was it a purposeful attempt to bring back a demeaning relic of America’s racist past?

The truth is that one cannot be entirely sure but the clothing item bears too many similarities to the racial caricatures that were used to make fun of African-Americans and Black people as a whole just a few decades ago.

These caricatures exaggerated the features of African-American and Black people in an effort to humiliate them. It suggested that this race was inferior to the Caucasian race.

It must also be said that these racial caricatures were not limited to Black people, they were also used against Asians, Native Americans and other racial groups in an effort to support the claim that other races were inferior to the Caucasian race.

With this in mind, it is clear that one of the primary reasons why these implicit and explicit acts of racism still exist comes as a result of ignorance.

Ignorance is the reason why King’s dream has not been fully realized and fulfilled. Since the dawn of time, the wars that have ensued as a result of this us vs them mentality are due to simply not knowing and fear.

As humans, we often fear what we do not know, it’s just a part of our psychology. However, in 2019 there is little to no reason why ignorance still persists in society.

It is clear to see that this ignorance often comes as a result of intentionally harmless statements such as “I do not see color or race.”

In fact, last year it was reported that two black men were arrested as a consequence of racial profiling at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pa.

According to Washington Post writer Eugene Scott, former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz responded to the event by stating “As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy, in the projects, I didn’t see color as a young boy,” he said. “And I honestly don’t see color now.”

On a superficial level, it is clear to see that his intentions are to suggest that Starbucks is not a racist company.

However, this response does not address the racial issues that led to the previously aforementioned incarceration.

According to Scott, the Washington Post writer, “to adequately address racial issues, you have to see race.” The response given by Schultz suggests that in order to alleviate racism, one should just avoid addressing the elephant in the room.

The truth is that in order to allow for peace and harmony it is essential that classrooms, academic circles and society as a whole encourage conversations about colorism, sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and many more forms of discrimination.

So to answer the question of whether the dreams of the past are a reflection of the present, it is clear that they are not.

However, one day this may be a reality if we make a societal attempt to eliminate all forms of ignorance.