We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

MLK with crescent moon
Victoria Pickering via Compfight

Today is the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and because of that I’ve co-opted the Monday spot usually relegated to my other blog for the second time this year. I felt it was important to do so because of the day and because I have something to say. Some won’t like it, some will, but in this heated political year it’s important that we come to grips with some reality.

Last year I wrote an article specifically for LinkedIn titled How Does Dr. King’s “Dream” Speech Translate In Health Care?. The article was well received… kind of. It got 162 views and it was probably the most commented article I had there. A couple of the comments weren’t quite negative, but instead of talking about the article itself the comments were made by people who had their own agenda against the Affordable Care Act and against President Obama… neither of which was even in the article. At this point it seems those few people must have had a change of heart because those comments are gone now.

A few days after that article went live I had someone else reach out to me and ask if they could feature the article on their website. It was a business website, and I took a look at it before deciding to allow it. I was given a password if I wanted to respond to any comments the article got… and it turned out to be useless.

The article did indeed get comments… almost all of them negative. Almost none of them talking about health care. Almost all of them talking about “another black person starting trouble that doesn’t exist”. I responded once to each person, stayed nice because it wasn’t my space, and decided at that point I was done, lost the password and forgot the site and never went back.

Notice I said “almost” above. That’s because there was one guy, one white gentleman, who not only liked the article but basically got into battles with the other people on my behalf. That was interesting and it felt pretty good on the surface, but in the long run even that depressed me.

A few weeks ago I was asked to be part of a local news story about the lack of diversity in booking music acts for a new amphitheater that just opened in September. While the list was impressive, it contained not only no people of color but no women. After we finished the official talk, I said to her “You know the kind of responses that are coming don’t you?” She said “Yes, but I don’t care. This is 2016 after all.”

When I was informed the article was live I went to check it out. I thought my position was represented well, and I went out of my way to make sure I didn’t call anyone “racist” or “bigoted” because I didn’t believe that was the case. However, I did say these three things:

“The truth is people are scared to talk about diversity,” he said. “Most people don’t think about it until someone brings it up. But good leadership is inclusive. Good leadership always thinks about diversity.”

“Whether it’s picking music, picking Oscars or working in business, people are always going to go with people they identify with,” Mitchell said. “One voice can help change things, but if there’s no one voice, they won’t think about it.”

“If you mention it to them, they’re going to make excuse after excuse,” he said. “That’s what the Oscar people did. People get defensive, even if you’re just telling the truth. People are scared to be called racists or bigots.”

After I read the article, I read some of the early comments. They were exactly on line with what I was expecting. A lot of hateful stuff, a lot of complaints about people writing about the lack of diversity… blah blah blah… I decided to stop reading them before someone decided to come after me personally because I know myself fairly well; I don’t play that game fairly… not as all.

For 8 years I’ve been reading all this negative stuff about President Obama, and a lot of it has been racial. People have tried to defend their actions saying it had nothing to do with race, but calling him a Muslim and starting this birther movement were definitely about race… possibly religion but I’m sticking with race.

Why? Because if those people were white and Muslim this wouldn’t even be a discussion to begin with. The overwhelming number of the followers of Islam are brown skinned people, and thus it makes it easy for these folks who hate with animus and agreement. The politicians running for office in one particular party are using it to their great advantage, preying on the fears of those who think their world is being taken over by “those people”, which has led to beatings, threats, name calling and all sorts of other things.

Then this mess started about something called “black privilege”, where many white males are saying that blacks get all the breaks and get to do and say things they can’t because they’d be called racists. Many have even started saying there should be a White History Month; sigh… Obviously they didn’t see or read this post of mine; not that they’d have understood it in the first place.

Maybe some of them would understand this by Jane Elliott:
 


https://youtu.be/4yrg7vV4a5o

That puts the issue in an entirely different light doesn’t it? Kind of tosses that black privilege belief out the window I’d say. For that matter it throws out the privilege issue for any minority group in the nation; we’re all in the same place.

I’ve written about diversity via newsletters and on my blogs for just over 13 years. Most of the time I don’t get any responses on those articles; hey, that’s just the way it goes. I will continue writing about it, and talking about it as I did during two live presentations in February locally.

What I have decided I’m not going to do anymore, unless I’m personally pulled into the fray, is engage stupidity as it applies to race. Frankly, like politics and religion, even telling and showing people facts about race doesn’t change their minds nor gets them to accept the truth. I don’t know how many times CNN has debunked the claims of both of the leading Republican candidates that the majority of Syrian refugees are NOT Muslim; hey, why let facts get in the way of a good talking point that’s getting voters?

Overall, I believe race relations is on its last breath. Things aren’t going to start changing until the majority is close to becoming the minority and when that happens, things are going to get worse. Do I have to point out South Africa before Mandela became president? What about Rhodesia, whose record was so horrific that they ended up changing the name of the country to try to bury the shame?

I’m not worried about the people I know in person. I’m used to being the token presence and voice in most of my interactions, and after 56 years I play the game well. But when, after 14 years of having this website up, there’s still conversation every once in a while about whether or not my picture being on my bio page might be keeping me from getting more business, it shows me that it might not be a daily thing, but it’s always in the subconscious of others, which is why it’s always in the consciousness of my mind.

People will believe what they want to believe; I have no problems with that unless it impacts me, directly or indirectly. I just lament that 53 years after “I Have A Dream” and 48 years after his assassination that this country seems not to have moved much on Dr. King’s words or actions. It’s better, but not by much… not based on what I see or hear.

If you believe in the dream, please let me know; I could use the inspiration, and I know I’m not alone.
 

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