Dear Dr. King:
In celebration of your birthday, I am writing you this letter to apologize for our country’s inaction on the enactment of your dream when you called for the end of racism, bigotry and bias in the country you so loved.
I was hopeful that with the “Black Lives Matter” movement that a new day was rising where we could talk honestly and authentically about issues of race. Unfortunately, this crusade served to heighten racial tensions as more young Black men are killed by police to the point that it feels like a common experience.
I was optimistic that the election of a Black President for two straight terms would lift the racial narrative where everyone could see that in this country they could reach their full potential regardless of their skin color. Unfortunately, the occupation of the White House by a Black family has given rise to a new kind of racism in the form of unconscious, covert and insidious bias.
While today’s inequality does not come in the form of nooses, segregated bathrooms, reservations and internment camps, it does seem to exist by favoring people who are similar to us. Regardless what this racial violence looks like, the effects are the same: a divided nation still searching for the elusive dream where differences are recognized and embraced.
I am saddened to report that our country is still addicted to war and bloodshed to solve our differences with our neighbors as opposed to your peaceful notion of nonviolence.
You would shed tears over the fact that people of your race and other people of color are still systematically discriminated against although in more subtle ways:
• While White people are more likely to do drugs than Blacks and Latinos, they are less likely to be incarcerated for that drug use.
• Black men are sentenced to lengthier prison terms than White men.
• Black children are more likely to be tried as adults and given more harsher sentences that White children.
• White people are more likely to support the criminal justice system, in the context of harsher sentences when they think it’s disproportionately punitive toward Black people.
• The more “Black” a person charged with murder looks, the higher the probability they will receive the death penalty.
• Black men between the ages of 20-29 die as a result of gun violence more than any other racial group.
• According to Google, the Deep South where your civil rights movement was nurtured uses the N-word at some of the highest rates in the country.
• According to Twitter, with the 2012 election of President Obama, the most racist tweets came out the Bible Belt South where you were born and raised.
• Despite scholastic gains by Blacks, Whites still out earn Blacks regardless of their education level.
• When White people are asked if Blacks face discrimination, the majority of them say no.
• Notwithstanding gains in social media, Blacks have more White friends in their social network than Whites have Black friends in their social circles.
• Black children attend worse schools than White children.
• Half of Blacks born in poverty stay in poverty.
What breaks my heart the most is the federal government which you looked to as the antidote to this ongoing narrative of hatred and racial discord is seemingly silent and inept when it comes to making a difference in the lives of so many of its citizens who are not reaping the benefits of your dream.
So keep the eternal flames of justice and equality burning for us on the mountain top. We will get there eventually, just not in this life.