Friday, April 4, 2008

On The 40th Anniversary

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was tragically killed forty years ago today. Many have posted tributes in their own way to Dr. King. (I still can't imagine how the ultrawingers can claim that they are more in tune than anyone else with Dr. King's vision, but that's for another time.)

Elliot Stearns put up a post expressing the view that "the current version of affirmative action" murders part of Dr. King's vision. He adds this:
(I’m perfectly aware that Martin might have disagreed with what I just wrote. But I can see no way of reconciling “where they will not be judged by the color of their skin” with a system that does exactly that.)

I can appreciate where Elliot is coming from, but I am in total disagreement with him. While affirmative action does make qualifications on a person's racial background, it is not murdering the dream of Dr. King. Instead it is symptomatic of the continuing problem of racism.

Affirmative action will continue to be needed until racism, both active and latent, are removed from our society. Furthermore, it is, in my humble opinion, irresponsible to believe that a part of our society which has been oppressed for hundreds of years, would be able to gain equal footing in just two generations. Great progress has been made during the last forty years, without doubt, but there is still a long way to go.

When terms like "white", "African American" and "Hispanic" (among many, many others) are used as a descriptive term (like blonde, brunette, blue-eyed, green-eyed, etc.) instead of a label, then we know we have made the dream come true.