At 80 I find myself still pursuing the same dream in which I’ve indulged myself all my life, a dream that someday the races of people would get along in harmony. Or at least try.
I say try because it seems to me that it’s been our failure to even pursue such a dream that has gotten in the way of it becoming a reality.
But, I’d dare say, there’s no better time than now for us to find ways to embrace each other. I feel that way just because of how the world is.
I mean you can sit down, after a long day of being retired, and turn on the tv and see a man, on this occasion a representative of the NFL, privileged beyond belief, telling football players (most of them black) that they can no longer protest police brutality at their knees while the flag is being sung to.
If they do so ever again they’ve been warned that they will be fined. Not to mention that there are no laws that demand that someone has to stand or take their hat off or put their hands over their heart or salute their country’s symbols. Nothing unpatriotic about it at all.
And the president weighs in with “If these athletes can’t honor the flag maybe they should leave the country.”
Whoa. Seeing human rights trampled on like a quarterback being sacked by a blitzing linebacker, pun intended, from a comfortable recliner in your living room, is quite a dream dampener.
What a display of white power against slim to no power. But what’s new? It’s been like that since the settlers arrived in the Americas and it signifies to us, during these times, that if we don’t cross the racial barriers that stand between us, our country’s future is jeopardized.
Generations down the line won’t have the luxury of hating each other as they deal with depleted ozone segueing into temperatures becoming more and more hot by degrees and ocean waves breaking over what were once nice beachfront properties.
But, putting all that aside, I find it refreshing that Starbucks, of all entities, the planet’s go-to coffee shop, is keeping my dream alive by modeling how racial problems can be confronted.
I appreciate how the president of their stores stepped to the plate when he immediately reacted to one of its employees having a couple of young black men ushered out of her establishment by the police for essentially “Waiting For a Friend While Black.”
I very much respect how he closed thousands of the companies for a day to train its baristas how to respect all its customers, no matter their ethnicity. How cool is that?
Is this enough? No. But it’s a beautiful start bearing in mind that the main rule of problem-solving was adhered to, admitting that there is one and then coming up with a plan to deal with it.
Starbucks had its people sit down and face each other face to face and listen to each other’s stories. That’s the formula for achieving racial harmony.
In the way I dream I can see us – schools, city councils, places of worship, political parties, service clubs, organizations of all kinds – doing just as they did.
We, too, could start with a video about “How Not to be Racist.”
We, too, could consider what it might be like living day-to-day in public spaces as a person of color and conduct wide-ranging discussions about race and identity.
We, too, could entertain the idea of being “color brave” (challenging our prejudices) rather than being “color blind” (which blinds us to our fellow citizens’ struggles).
Hope inspiring actions like these tremendously re-energizes my lifelong dreams that we might someday come to live together harmoniously.
And, in the spirit of my desires, I can’t help but think of how, if we could find ways to truly connect as a people, we would be giving honor to something Martin, our country’s great dreamer, once said:
“Let us all hope that the dark cloud of racial prejudices will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation.”
What a world that would be, huh?
A world of my dreams, one where racial harmony would rise and shine.
A loving world.