~ A view from a middle aged white man, born in 1964, raised partially in southern California until age 10, then in the panhandle of Florida to central Florida. As an adult, has lived in South Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and Georgia. Has traveled through many other states and vacationed in Alaska, Mexico and the Bahamas ~
I listened to and read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and several quotes popped out to me. I’ve taken them below and added my thoughts, taking myself back in time remembering situations through my eyes and especially through my heart.
As a child I was raised pretty much in a non-denominational, non-racist, middle to low middle-class family, though I thought I lived in a mansion in Santa Ana. Climbing a tree in the backyard to the roof of my castle, the endless sunshine highlighted Space Mountain, the winds moved the branches so I could see Anaheim Angels Stadium. I was able to ride my bike, everywhere!
I went to school with Hispanics, had a Hispanic babysitter for a time. Playing with her kids, my friends. It was normal, it was life as a kid, running, laughing, eating tacos, burritos and laughing some more.
What shaped my viewpoints, my beliefs? What made me who I am? Was it my parents or my surroundings, both? Was it having a younger brother with Cerebral Palsy, confined to a wheelchair, who communicated with his eyes? Was it learning that the looks from strangers was their disdain?
Moving across the country in a ’66 Chevy pickup with a camper shell from Santa Ana to Perry, Fl. was an adventure but more of one when it’s just your Mom and five kids. I was the oldest and the diaper-changer, child wrangler and most of all the late night co-pilot as we maneuvered easterly through the desert states. There was no air conditioning, so I was also the shuttler of cloth diapers used to wrap around our necks, wet and cold from the blocks of ice in the coolers. Seat-belts weren’t used so the experience of shutting a truck door at 55 mph after your younger sister opens it added to the excitement.
It was in Mississippi when Mom had to pull in for the night, trying to find shelter on a stormy night. She saw a gas station with an overhang and pulled through. Bam, bang, sudden stop as the camper shell ripped open. All the kids jolted out of deep sleep, screaming and crying. Let’s say the overhang won. The crashing noise apparently woke up the neighborhood, because when I opened the back door there was a small crowd. This was my first encounter with black people. A preacher and his family took us in for the night, fed us and made us comfortable, taking the sting out of the tumultuous night. Duct tape and sheet metal the next morning, we continued on to Florida.
I lived on a small farm and spent half of 4th grade in Perry, Florida. It was living in the rural panhandle of Florida that the understanding of perceived differences started to creep into my life.
It was the day that a State Trooper pulled up on the farm. He drove the squad car with the red singular light on top around the circle dirt drive parking in the shade of the monstrous Live Oak. Jumping the cattle fence, my bare feet kicked up dust as I slid to a stop at the “cool” police car. He was visiting my grandparents, stopping by to have some sweet iced tea, talking about crops, logging and how the sows were coming along. My curiosity was met with an openness for the trooper to show off his car. As I looked by his seat I asked what was that, a curved wooden handle frame that attached to a 12 gauge side by side sawed off shotgun as he pulled it out. He described in great detail that it was his “scatter gun” used when he had to go to the black juke joints. Other words were used, foreign to me.
I was 10 years old, a kid who played with all colors of other kids who wanted to play with me. Reflecting back, I think we all want to be that kid again, free, laughing, playing. So as I write this, I pour out love to all that strive to find their way back to being a child once more, unencumbered by the viewpoints of the “adults”.
“Black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Your life is what you make it. A friend of mine shared a thought —
“The greatest gift of your life was when you were born on American soil.” Do we take it for granted? America is sought out and has been since it’s inception, because you can live the “American Dream.” A dream of freedom from many — oppressions.
As many great people have stated in different ways and words, your life, liberty and your pursuit of happiness starts with you. Your mind is yours, you have the means to do anything with it. Garbage in, garbage out. So many choices!
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
Adding, or any other “kool-aid” that goes against the tenets of your heart.
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
I love the words high plane, majestic heights and soul force.
“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
Destiny as humans!
“I have a dream that my four little children will 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.”
Or judged at all. It occurs daily and often. So how to slow it down is to recognize your own, acknowledge it, thank it and let it love away.
“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! ”
So be free at last, study, learn, include. RAR out loud, RAR everyday, RAR as much as you can, then RAR some more.
R – espect yourself and others
A – ccountability, yourself and others
R – esponsibility, self and to others
So I dream, small dreams, big dreams, it dosen’t matter, I just dream… adding a little action to these, baby steps or leaps, fruition comes through.