Posts tagged dream
Posts tagged dream
“I hated the American government. And I hated it more when I saw Adlai Stevenson in April of 1965, defending the invasion of the Dominican Republic. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the “liberal” hero of the Eisenhower era brandishing the names of “fifty-seven communists” who were members of Colonel Francisco Caamafio’s insurgent army. Twenty thousand US troops were dispatched to Santo Domingo to “safeguard American life and property” – a euphemism which provided a pretext to overthrow the revolutionary government. I almost died laughing when I heard on a BBC broadcast that the Christian Science Monitor checked on the “fifty-seven communists” and found out that most were either dead, in prison, or in exile. The American troops “liberated” the island, a “free” election was held and the good people “elected” a landed-aristocratic government led by Mr. Balaguer. All this was done, of course, in loyal homage to liberalism, to the new frontiers, to the good society and to the American dream.”
— Leila Khaled, My People Shall Live. (via existentialist-trotskyist)
April 4th, 2012, marks the 44th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. It’s a good time to reflect on the state of not only Dr. King’s dream, but the American dream at large. After all, Dr. King himself described his own dream as one that was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” It was a vision for an American Dream made available to all — a dream for the many, not just the very few. But nearly five decades after his passing, it behooves us to face a disturbing truth: the dream upon which Dr. King founded his own dream is imperiled.
The ideal that Dr. King worked to extend to all was that ours could be a country in which ordinary people — not just those with great wealth — could work hard, play by the rules, and make a better life for themselves and their families. Dr. King, and so many others, devoted his life to making that opportunity available to Americans of all backgrounds. But today, those who work the hardest are falling the furthest behind, while those who break the rules are the ones getting ahead. And make no mistake: we know who today’s dream killers are. They are in the financial sector. They are big banks on Wall Street. And they are those in the student loan business — federal and private — who look to drain the wealth of individuals who want to further their education.
In America, whites have 20 times the wealth of African-Americans. So says census data.
Not 20% more. Not twice as much. Twenty times as much. Specifically, the median household wealth for whites in 2009 was $113,149, and the median household wealth for African-Americans was $5,677.
When I heard this a few months ago, it was not entirely news to me. When I was in Congress, I read the reports that the Federal Reserve sent to Members; to me, that was interesting reading. In the appendix to one of those Fed reports, from a survey of respondents selected in 2007, these numbers caught my eye:
White, non-Hispanic households - $149,900
Hispanic and African-American households - $23,300
So from $149,900 down to $113,149, and from $23,300 (including Hispanics) down to $5,677. These numbers confirm just how hard the Great Recession has whacked minority households.
But there is a deeper issue. Can someone please explain to me how, in a country where we are told again and again that we are “all created equal,” one group ends up with 20 times as much as another?
MLK’s dream was that his four young children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” What are we supposed to think – that one group has twenty times as much character as another?
In the face of incredible numbers like these, you will still find right-wingers who insist that America is now a color-blind society (except for the scourge of “reverse racism”). But the numbers tell a different story. They suggest that America is not a color-blind society, but rather a racism-blind society.
And ask yourself: when has any elected official, ANY elected official, ever discussed this inconvenient truth, and tried to discern what should be done about it? Why is there a veil of silence over such a salient, central fact about the country we all share?
I went to a wonderful parade on Saturday, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. And if there is one thing that we know in Central Florida, it’s how to put on a parade; we have several every day. All those smiling, happy faces that I saw on Saturday.
And it’s not my job to rain on anyone’s parade. That’s why I’m saying this today, not yesterday, when we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. But here we are, 49 years later, his “four young children” as old as I am, and one of them already gone from us.
And I have to say, about that dream of equality that he had, it’s still just a dream.
Just a dream.
“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Robert Kennedy, on dreams.
The Republican leadership, in general, and the Tea Party, in particular, is designed to be a party of extremists. That is, the modern Republican party is built on its appeal to those most likely to see the world in black and white. Giving power to the true believers of any stripe is dangerous, and the debt limit makes visible a decades long process that increases the risk that the country will become ungovernable.