Thursday night on CNN, anchor Don Lemon started his show with a short yet stunning sentence: “The President of the United States is racist.”
Reaction to the statement ranged from “not a chance!” to “darn right, Don!”
My first reaction: WTH? What happened to us?
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday (and in Arkansas, for the first time as its own day), you can’t help but wonder what the civil rights icon would think of the United States of America in 2018. For the last few decades, progress on the issue of racial equality has been slow yet steady. Over the last couple years, it seems advancement has come to a screeching halt.
This week in Central Arkansas, we had an example of race immediately coming to the forefront. Three North Little Rock police officers shot and killed a 17-year-old African American. Facebook immediately lit up with heated comments and strong opinions. Some people said the cops racially profiled and murdered the black teen. Others argued the kid was just another “thug” and applauded the effort of the officers. We ended up having to censor comments that included curse words, racial slurs, and death threats.
Days later, dashcam footage (below) was released that showed why the shooting incident will likely be ruled justified. While some are arguing the merit of the traffic stop that proceeded what you’ll see on tape, it’s tough to debate the actual shooting or whether the suspect’s race played a role. It was what it was. Someone pulled a gun on police.
(WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO)
This is just one issue that underscores a clear line that persists in our country. It’s an example of Americans pointing the finger at each other. An issue is either black or white.
I don’t know what MLK would tell us in 2018. However, there are plenty of things he said in 1963 that remain far too relevant 55 years later. These are the excerpts from the “I Have a Dream” speech you may not already be familiar with. Among them:
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst of freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we much make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We can’t turn back.”
“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.”
“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
The New Yorker gave its take on MLK in 2018. I’m interested in yours. How would King view America in 2018? What would he say about us? What would he say to us? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
My guess: he expected us to be much further along.