Poinsette: King’s dreamt about more than race

The below intern blog is a commentary on the education system teaching children colorblindness based on the article that can be found below the commentary.

In the media, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is depicted as integration and colorblindness. His dream was not to become colorblind but rather recognize the various colors and what it means to be that color. We live in a world where how you look determines who you are, how far you can go in life, and where you are accepted. When you hear the word drug dealer, you think of an American American. When you hear illegal cheap labor, the picture of a Mexican comes to mind. When you think monetary wealth and family, you see the portrait of a white man. How have we all reached this thought process? Unfortunately, it is embedded within our society and facilitated by our education system. Did you know white youth are “more likely than black youth to consume illegal drugs as well as sell them”? Did you know before Manifest Destiny, Mexicans lived on the land we call America? Did you know laws were put in place to decrease the likelihood of African Americans attaining or sustaining wealth? These perspectives are not placed in our history books. A lot of people say “knowledge is power”. If the knowledge you are receiving in your education system is geared towards maintaining this unequal playing field, how is that power? Knowing the truth of why this playing field is unequal is the power. Once you know what obstacles are in your way, you can prepare and be ready to overcome it.

Poinsette: King’s dreamt about more than race

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is full of media portrayals and pundit interpretations that make me shaking mad. When children are inundated with the belief that King’s dream was integration and colorblindness, it is a testament to the demise of our education system.

Dr. King was a crusader for justice, not simply integration. Colorblindness was neither his dream, nor a solution to the structural racism and racial disparities that persist today. To commit to colorblindness is to commit to being irrational. It is a way to conveniently ignore the plight of other races.

Dr. King certainly wasn’t colorblind when he fought for blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and poor people at home. Nor was he colorblind when he turned his attention to the mass murder of the Vietnamese by the U.S. military, which he deemed, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

Dr. King warned us he wouldn’t get to the promised land, and almost 43 years after he was assassinated, I have little hope any of us will get there in our lifetimes either.

Currently his message has been hijacked to promote a colorblind agenda that is fueled by code words that enforce the current racial caste system. We are not so subtly taught by media imagery to match the name with the face when it comes to phrases like “drug criminal,” “terrorist” and “illegal alien.”

According to Michelle Alexander, in her book “The New Jim Crow,” statistically speaking, white youth are both more likely than black youth to consume illegal drugs as well as sell them. However, the image of a drug criminal that police are taught to look for is a black man. A study out of New York found that blacks are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs, even though whites are twice as likely to have drugs on them during the search.

When it comes to terrorism, we are taught to seek out Middle Easterners. However, from westward expansion and the extermination of Native Americans, to the Ku Klux Klan intimidating blacks not to vote, and even to the current “War on Terror,” the face of terrorism has been white and/or Western. A study by the Brookings Institution in 2009 revealed that drone strikes in Pakistan kill ten civilians for every one insurgent.

In the 1980s, Eastern European immigrants were granted amnesty, and there wasn’t nearly the public outcry that there is today over immigration and passing measures such as the DREAM Act. It’s no secret that when Arizona passed its new immigration laws, the section allowing officers to profile for people that looked like illegal immigrants wasn’t referring to Europeans. When the same state passed legislation banning ethnic studies with the exception of teaching about genocides, whom was that empowering?

The colorblind fantasy cannot escape the statistical reality. Despite being only 12 percent of the US population, blacks make up 38.2 percent of the prison population, which upon their release, are subject to legalized discrimination in areas such as employment and public housing. The black unemployment rate is nearly twice that of whites at 15 percent. According to a study by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, single black women have a median wealth of $100 compared to $41,500 for single white women.

These so-called wars on drugs, poverty and terror amount to nothing more than a war on the American people, especially poor and working people and people of color. The money and resources that go to weapons manufacturers, military contractors and the prison-industrial complex will never go to help fix our broken education system or provide social services for those who desperately need it or fix the crumbling infrastructure of this country.

The effects are anything but colorblind.

As another Martin Luther King Jr. Day passes, we must do more than celebrate. To honor his legacy we must continue fighting for the freedom that he, Malcolm X, Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, Huey P. Newton and countless others died for.

If you know someone in the prison system, write and visit him or her as much as possible. Give them the support needed to integrate back into society. Provide guidance to children and teens, because we can’t wait on the school system to do it for us.

If someone looks you in the eye with a straight face and says affirmative action is the problem, even though the University campus is 3 percent black, don’t continue to let him or her drown in their own ignorance. And if someone tells you that you can’t say, “I’m black and I’m beautiful” or “I’m brown and I’m beautiful,” because he can’t say, “White power,” then tell him to open his eyes — because that is the only way Martin Luther King’s dream can ever become a reality.



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