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Revisiting the dream of Dr. King

We live in a time when principles, values and profits are so interchangeable that I would assume that there was a correlation between the timing of the showcasing the recent movie, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and the recent commemoration day of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Of course, judging by the content of the movie, which was based on the novel by James Baldwin, and the message Dr. King delivered before he was assassinated, they not only belong to the same time period and spirit, but they target the same emotionally intense and still-unresolved issues of race, prejudice and inequality.

The story of “If Beale Street Could Talk” illustrates a romantic relationship of two young African-American lovers whose passion and future plans of getting married and forming a family is brutally interrupted by the cynicism and hypocrisy of a system that protects the privileged white against a vulnerable black person. That pretty much epitomizes the mission and the message Dr. King sacrificed his life for. 

The story of the movie takes place around the 1970s, very soon after Dr. King’s assassination, which illuminates the brutal truth that certain citizens of this country had to experience a wholly different emotional reality just because of the difference of the color of their skin. And after all these years, on the day of remembrance for Dr. King and his “Dream,” one is forced to ask if the “Dream” has ever became a reality. 

There is no question that Dr. King, with his eloquence, passion and moral strength, has transformed our perspective in terms of accepting others who might seem different. He instilled in our collective consciousness that there is essentially no difference between a white person and a black person, a white child and a black child and that we are all members of the same human family. And thanks to Dr. King and his message, the improvements in our racial relationships have grown beyond our expectations. We work together. We dine together. And our TV shows presenting people belonging to various backgrounds and races actually joke about our differences. That’s the fun part.

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But unfortunately our reality has not come even close to the “Dream” Dr. King prophesied. Instead of investing our energies in further improving our relationship, we have adopted artificial and politically correct formalities to appear unbiased. Our neighborhoods are still divided and our towns are unwelcoming to those whose skin color is not the same as ours. We still view each other like we are citizens of different planets. And it appears that we have never changed. There is a large segment of our society who still think that black people do not deserve and are not qualified to enjoy the fruits of equality. 

And regrettably, the current political environment not only is not nurturing to the integration and assimilation of races, but it is indeed encouraging division, hatred and mistrust. The recent rise of white supremacy and total disregard toward the racial sensibilities of others is horrifying to witness.

And how politicians manipulate and exploit our sentiments and the reverence toward leaders like Dr. King to advance their political agenda is simply revolting. 

Only recently, our Vice President Pence invoked the memory of Dr. King to legitimize the building of the controversial Wall. By doing so, Mr. Pence turned Dr. King’s vision on its head, suggesting that Mr. Trump’s insistence of building the Wall is in perfect harmony with Dr. King’s “Dream.” 

Who is he kidding? But this type of manipulation and cynical disregard of Dr. King’s message is damaging to our collective soul and consciousness. 

This has to stop. Dr. King’s “Dream” cannot be just a fantasy to be abandoned when it seems to be unachievable. Dr. King has done an honorable task by planting the seeds of a “Dream” in our collective consciousness. It is a work in progress. And it is our responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that the “Dream” remains alive.

 

Varoujan Froundjian is a graphic designer, Photoshop artist, writer, cartoonist, information technology and wine expert who also drives a limousine for local livery. He can be reached at varoujanfroundjian@gmail.com.