Dreaming to Depart from Disproportionate

A hopeful hyphenate highlights history from Dr. King’s speech

Note: As this post is written on the Tuesday between celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., Day and Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be sworn in as the President of the United States of America, I hope that humanity can continually look at its history as well as herstory to find healing.

As stated in a previous post, frequent engagement of the Black Lives Matter movement messaging is a step society needs to solve for in order to showcase support for underserved communities.

Historical references, while sometimes outdated, can actually shed spotlights of where the issues of today issues stem from. One thing to note are the earlier parts of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, I Have a Dream Speech. As we are able to have a federal holiday celebrate what Dr. King stood for civil rights for Black/African-Americans, the portions of this nearly eighteen minute speech on August 28th, 1963, has more nuggets to help us solve the problems of today. Throughout the last couple of decades, many can refer to audio examples where Dr. King exclaims, regardless of state residency and cultural backgrounds all Americans can band together and “sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.” While we remember the dream Dr. King has, we may not be recalling roots of those dreams.

Earlier in his speech, he also states four objective things about the “Negro” 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. To respect the community’s evolution, we should now state them as Black and/or African American. While there are many optimists who see an all-encompassing America of the future, one should still note points that the individuals in the Black community are not served well as Dr. King stated, such as that they are:

  1. Still Not Free
  2. Still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination
  3. Lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity
  4. Still languished in the corners of American society and find himself in exile in his own land

While all people are allowed to access the same groups of public institutions, there is disparity in how people are served by the color of their skin. Although, highly regarded books of today such as Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, could allow to us to believe that society is better as a whole, it is not necessarily the case for minority, especially Black, communities. There is still a lot of disproportion of how well the Black community is served. This is why the public sees the cries of #defundthepolice as well as the demonstrations to support the Black lives that have been lost due to white officer shootings.

Furthermore, as one reads books such as Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation, problems in public domains such as the education system are not serving Black lives equitably. Although I believe that the intentions of public institutions are to serve the community, the applications are subject of white-bias as more people who lead or serve are of the racial majority. Even though the United States of America will be increasingly more diverse in the future and things can be seemingly “better”, it does not mean that the current influential members of society should shirk their responsibilities to make things more equitable. If public institutions that should serve as the moral compass of our communities aren’t able to solve for equity, society underserved communities will feel abandoned.

Our hopes and dreams are very much what propels us everyday. However, there is much work that needs to be done. While we surround ourselves in world where ideals and products are being defined quicker, we shall not forget that there are historic roots to help us realize what we are fighting for in the first place.



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J.S. Chan

J.S. Chan

Native San Franciscan with Super Overseas Chinese roots. Unleashing an authentic presence through channels such as Medium is my 2021 New Year’s Resolution.