Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. (Martin Luther King Jr., letter from Birmingham Jail 1963)
When Daniel was a high school senior, he applied to five or six colleges, public and private. He had worked hard and was accepted into all of them. He received large academic scholarship offers from each of the private schools...except for one. His first pick. He was disappointed, because there was no way we could afford it otherwise, and at this particular school, academic scholarships are only offered to incoming freshman. If you don't get it then, forget it.
His disappointed turned to frustration and anger, though, when through the grapevine of our small school, he discovered that two of his friends, both smart and gifted, but without Daniel's level of academic achievement, had each been offered large academic scholarships to this same college.
At the urging of the boys' moms, friends of mine, I contacted the admissions counselor. In a nutshell, she conceded that the boys' African-American heritage played a big role in the scholarship offers. They ended up offering Daniel a smaller scholarship (they had run out of scholarship money), but by then he had a bad taste in his mouth for the college. Instead, he went with his second pick - UT - which he absolutely loves. So it worked out.
Except...I grew up in the sixties and seventies witnessing the Civil Rights struggles, sympathizing and getting angry about injustices, gaining inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches, agreeing that all men (and women) are created equal and should be treated as such.
I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I angrily castigated some welders years ago for bragging about harassing African-Americans they saw walking down a sidewalk. I worked with and made friends with people of all different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. I had worked hard to bring my children up to be color-blind, and had done a good job.
But this experience left a mark on all of us. Obviously, there was still discrimination and racial injustice in our country, and not just against minorities. My son became a victim of it, too, only how could we protest without being labeled racists ourselves?
And then, after this election, I was reminded of it again when it became obvious by the news coverage and interviews that many (not all) voted for Obama because of his skin color. I'm sure many voted against him for the same reason (although obviously not as many), and it just makes me sad, either way, especially when King's "I Have a Dream" speech was being quoted along with the admissions...
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream, too...that someday soon everyone will be judged on a level playing field, with no consideration at all of the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, their heritage, their eye color, height, weight, or anything else. I hope Obama's election helps make this come true, somehow.
I don't think King's dream will be fulfilled until mine is.