How far have we come?

Photo of William T. Robinson Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

It is another year and we have come upon what is the only holiday in the United States that celebrates and honors an African American. The Martin Luther King Holiday will be celebrated January 21. While I am happy and proud, there is a part of me as an African American that is sad and disillusioned at what many would be quick to say is adequate progress toward meeting our goal to become a colorblind nation where everyone is judged on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin. Many people have removed their rose tinted glasses and stared reality dead in the face and don’t like what they see. I guess it depends on whom you ask as to what degree of progress has been made with race relations here in the United States. For so many, equality and justice seems eons away.

With the election of the first African American President Barack Hussein Obama, I momentarily thought that we had arrived as a nation and had been cleansed of the sordid and soiled blanket of racism and discrimination that has historically covered our nation going back to its origin—especially as it relates to African Americans. I, like millions of African Americans, felt that America had redeemed herself and was truly ready to honor her commitment to all her citizens. Then it appeared the bottomed had drop out and many Americans, especially of White decent were unable to refrain from showing their true colors, disrespecting and lambasting our president on everything he did. He was called a boy by many political representatives, grotesque caricatures were drawn depicting him in a negative light, and racist slurs were rained down on him by many people who should have been arrested and considered anti American and terrorist in any other president’s administration. No other president has been so disrespected in the history of the United States—and you want people of color to believe the color of his skin doesn’t play a role.

Just when many of us felt that the white robes had been discarded and burned, we found they had only been stored in the closet to be revisited with a vengeance. Rationalize if you must, but even pure, young innocent children cry out wondering why some people hate our president so much. The president has made monumental progress that would be hailed and praised if accomplished by any White president. For the most part, it seems all of his achievements and accomplishments are condemned by hate filled racists and bigots who refuse to see any good in anything he does. Unfortunately, many Whites that are appalled by the action of their peers are complicit by idly sitting by acquiescing and not speaking out against such unprecedented behavior.

The question of fairness and equality is revisited when African Americans see our penal system inundated with a disproportionate number of Black men and laws being made to only support this predicament. Doubt is also fueled when the educational system has failed most of our Black children. There is even a movement to remove affirmative action programs catapulting minorities back to an era when discriminatory practices were the rule of the land.

Regardless of what is apparent, you’ll find a handful of blessed and successful Blacks who would have all America believe that all is fine and well with relationships among most Blacks and a suppressive system. Many of these Blacks are advocating with the backing of their White supporters to perpetuate an atmosphere that all is well in America (sometimes having an overflowing plate makes you apathetic or blind to those who are hungry).

Many businesses in the United States refuse to acknowledge or celebrate the Martin Luther King Holiday. So when we celebrate this holiday, let’s make an honest assessment when we look at the progress or lack of progress being made to make this a colorblind nation with liberty and justice for all. We can and must do better to make the dream a reality, not just a well-meaning adage.