Nightmare – A Response to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream
Well Martin. We’re here again. Here again celebrating your life… Not just the day that you were born, but celebrating each and every day of your life in which you dedicated yourself to the cause that was the betterment of man and the culture of the American society. I have to say that I am very grateful Dr. King for the work that you and your followers dedicated so that I could have the opportunities that I have had in my own life thus far.
I’m reaching out to you because I too had a dream, well not so much a dream but it was more like a nightmare. A nightmare complete with all kinds of horrid and disgusting images that I’m almost ashamed to share with you. I have to say that listener’s discretion is advised. But before I even begin to reflect on those frightening images, I’d rather reflect on the Dream and the Vision that God revealed to you some 40 years ago.
Each year around your birthday I make sure to do a few different things: 1.) I list to your last sermon: “If I Had Sneezed and 2.) I listen to your ‘I have a Dream Speech’. Each one of them speaks volumes in their own special way, and each is a testament to the work and witness that God had put in you to shine on His people. I think about the marches, the sit-ins, the beatings, the arrests… I think about the violence, the bombings, the slander, the blood that was shed for simple equality. I think about the ideals in which the entire black community lifted as only 10% of the population, but made such a loud and resounding noise that it rattled the shackles of a nation; rattled those shackles free. Free, ah yes, that’s a good word isn’t it. I think if we were to think of the words that come to our mind when thinking of the Civil Rights Movement, freedom would be at the top of the list for most. Freedom… the word itself paints a clear picture in the mind of the speaker even as we repeat it. Moreover, I think about all the good that came out of fight that happened during the time. I think about the Inauguration that will be occurring Monday, Jan 21 of the first African American President of the United States of America. I think about how I’m a part of a generation that has never had to march, never had to walk in a back door, never had to use a different facility or room, never had to limit my options of where I would go to school. I’m grateful for that. Dr. King, your dream has absolutely manifested itself in a partial reality. I thank God for the opportunities that I was afforded because you allowed Him to use you to lead a great movement.
However, Rev. King I prefaced my letter to you about a Nightmare that I had. And as promised, I wanted to deliver that to you. In my nightmare I was walking down the street, I’m unsure if I was invisible or not, but no one seem to recognize or acknowledge me. I was walking through a local predominately African American middle school. A science teacher and a student were having a discussion about leadership. The young child exclaimed to the teacher that he didn’t want to be a leader, because being a leader was too much work. He said that being a leader, was too much responsibility. He said being a leader was too much trouble. I don’t know why the cosmos began to flush my subconscious mind with a picture like this, but it happened. I had a nightmare and I hope it never comes true. I continue on in my nightmare to the a beautiful city in the Midwest called Chicago. What a fine city it is… I remember walking through the Southside of Chicago, still being unacknowledged, and witnessing 500 men, women, and innocent children being killed with each step I took down this street. With each step I took moving towards the end of the street another innocent life was taken. Blood laced the streets as though it was a flood into the drains and out on the sidewalks. When I finally got to the end of the street to talk to some people about why this was happening their explanation was, ‘it is what it is…’ I couldn’t believe it. ‘It is what it is’ what does that really mean? Does that mean that this is the only option? Does that mean that we are supposed to keep quiet? Does this mean that we’re so dedicated to honoring the code that we have lost our fear of God in the protection and maintenance of Human life? What does that mean. I must say Dr. King I had a nightmare, and I hope it never comes true.
As I continued my journey, I found myself in a college classroom: listening to a discussion between students and the professor. They were discussing how to get a good job. Some kind of way I ended up in another classroom, and another, and another, and all of the classrooms were discussing and preparing the students on how to get good jobs. Not one was in an engaging discussion on how to create jobs, how to accumulate and amass wealth, not one of them were talking about what it really means to acquire success and pour those seeds on some fertile young pots of soil and teaching them how to also bear fruit. As I continued flying from classroom to classroom I discovered that this was the norm. This was expected. This was reality. The world I was floating around in was a world of sameness, and middleclass mentality. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being middle class, quite frankly being poor is extremely difficult. But in the search to attain what is considered middle class, I noticed so many individuals were losing their identity in that quest. They were picking at their black faces to remove the pigment in which was gently and carefully stretched across their bodies as a symbol of strength to be the same. There was no image of African American success. I had a nightmare and I hope it does not come true.
Black Success… what does that look like Dr. King. All of the fighting, the marching, the beatings, and death were symbols of a belief that African Americans should have the opportunity to attain the American Dream and enjoy the successes of life. But I must say Dr.King, the American Dream and the African American Dream have since been thwarted in their parallelism. I witnessed a teenager being questioned on what Success was, and how could one tell if they were successful: he said, “Success comes when you are rich, have at least 2 cars, a 2 story house, the latest gear, and a dope chain”… I laughed until I realized that he was serious, I soon understood that this example was a mitochosm to what exists in our community today. There is an entire generation that believes that success is measured quantitatively by the things that we have, the things that we wear, the things that can be bought, essentially success was measured by ‘stuff’. This could not have been your dream. We have all the opportuntitesi in the world, and now we fail to take advantage of them. Dr. King, I had a nightmare, and I hope it does not come true.
Dr.King we have Professional sports teams and sports owners having month long discussions and arguments over how many millions and billions of dollars will be disbursed amongst them; when the real problem in our country is the amount of children that are in poverty, the amount of citizens that are illiterate, the number of able-bodied men depending on work to create an income and an inflated unemployment rate. The real problem is we are beginning to allow the Television to raise our kids instead of assisting in the development of their sense of identity and self-esteem. Dr. King, your generation fought that a people who knew their rights would be given those freedoms, and now we have a people who aren’t totally sure on who we are. Being black now is about sagging, being loud, calling each other niggas, bitches, and hoes and glorifying it saying that times have changed. Being black now, is all about how I can keep my next brother from growing or changing to become a better man. We have become a nation of crabs in a bucket wanting everyone to do the same, be the same, and no one to ever dream of crawling out of that bucket. For those that attempt to get out they are constantly pulled on, being reminded of how ‘good’ things were ‘back in the bucket’. Being reminded that there’s no reason to leave the bucket, because all they will ever be able to be is that crab… that crab that came from that bucket. Dr. King , I had a nightmare and I hope it doesn’t come true.
Well Rev King, I must admit, that this nightmare is actually what’s going on in 2013 today. We have ex-offenders that are walking around America with the same rights as a Slave from the 1860’s. We have children walking around with no idea of what a two-parent home looks like, or the desire to maintain one. We have teenagers walking around with more knowledge of how to play video games, than how to interpret words from a book or article. We have grown men measuring their manhood by their genitals unable to tie a tie, or even change their own oil. We have women painting their faces, putting on fake hair, fake body parts, and strutting God’s green earth looking for something real. I had a nightmare, Dr. King, and it’s already came true. Rev what are we to do?
Are we a perishing people? Has the African American race decided that our fight ends now? Does the election of Barack Obama mean anything … twice? How do we lead the fight now? Who is our leader? What are we fighting for? I know. The fight of the African American community is now internal. We have lost our own personal self-identity in a false sense of reality created by stereotypes that we put on ourselves. We are better than that Dr. King. Though I had a nightmare, I still have some nights where I dream. Dr. King, I dream that Black men will not be afraid to take ownership and leadership in their lives, in their families, in their communities. Black women will have no problem in embracing their natural beauty… I dream that African Americans will achieve great levels of educational successes in waves unquantifiable by any statistic. I dream that we will push our best out of the bucket, and encourage them to come back to the bucket to pull the rest of us out. I dream Dr. King. I dream that a young child aspires to be a walking testament to their passion instilled in them by our Creator and not robbed of this passion for a falsehood belief of the need of a ‘job’ to survive. I dream that we are not perishing, but we are rebuilding, redesigning the black face and the black image of success. Dr. King if you were here I know you would simply ask… Who’s willing to be a part of this image? Who is proud of the pigmentation that is given us, and the power that we come from and represent? Who is ready to break out of the shell of stereotype and redefine what it means to be a successful Black Man or Woman? Who is ready to fulfill their purpose in life through the recognition of their passion? Is it you? Are you the one that King dreamed about? Why yes you are. You are the latest and greatest creation of the Black man and Black woman. You have no choice but to be great…. Not good… but great. You have no choice but to look in the mirror and not see yourself as who you are right now, but who you are destined to be. Dare to Dream… Outlive the nightmare and create a memory; a memory that boasts of the greatness that flows within us.
That Dr. King is my response to your Dream. I had a nightmare, and I refuse for it to come true. I’m living proof of your dream, and a testament to your memory.
What’s your dream? Are you living it?
With Passion, Purpose, & Pride,
- Trent J ACEO