King’s dream shattered once more | Daily News


 

King’s dream shattered once more

Decades ago my history teacher first introduced me to a speech by Martin Luther King (MLK). As a schoolboy I didn’t fully comprehend the deep significance of the powerful words of that great civil rights activist. My memory was directed to my classroom. I was confronted with the words of MLK this week. Before he delivered that speech in 1963 MLK made a powerful statement “100 years later the Negro is still not free”- he was referring to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which guaranteed the freedom of slaves.

Fifty seven years since that historic speech was made, the Americans of African origin are still not free in the context of King’s famous speech. We can extend this to cover all colored people, including Hispanic and Asian people. This is how a majority of white Americans (whose generations can be traced to migrants themselves) see colored people of any origin. Even President Barack Obama could not bring about the desired change in regard to racial discrimination in the US. The racial divide remains a dormant dragon sometimes striking out.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 the wave of ‘racial hatred’ has rapidly extended, to thousands of innocent Chinese living in USA. The American Constitution very generously guarantees her citizens “The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Is this right truly given to African American Americans ? The white supremacists cannot and will not tolerate the advancement of the “colored folk” into the top echelons of American life, in any sphere.

Minneapolis moments

Global news headlines were made when a white policeman (in the presence of three other armed white policemen) held down a Black unarmed man, George Floyd on the sidewalk. The white policeman kept his knee on the neck of helpless Floyd for more than eight minutes, until the defenseless man groaned ‘I can’t breathe” and breathed his last. This was done in full public view (several bystanders urged the policeman to take his knee off) and a cellphone video caught the entire sordid episode, which has been played over and over by all TV stations worldwide. In TV series like NYPD Blue the world is shown the efficiency of US police in making decent arrests, yet in real life America the scene changes.

For global viewers who watched CNN and BBC, the past few days brought back memories of the famous beating of the late Rodney King (an African American man) by white cops in Los Angeles on March 3, 1991, which resulted in violent public protests. A civilian, George Holliday, filmed the incident from his nearby balcony and sent the footage to a local news station, which was also picked by all TV channels worldwide (there was no YouTube back then). We also had a flashback of the shooting of innocent black teenager Michael Brown.

There is a clear message that police officer Derek Chauvin (now charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter) sent to the American society – Black Lives Don’t Matter. The world was watching in shock. We will not be surprised that when the trial begins defence lawyers of the policeman may say he was under immense stress. Such lame excuses have been seen before in the judicial process there.

For decades the US has accused and condemned many countries of human rights violations. In this backdrop how would the present US administration respond to the actions of these racist policemen ? Many were surprised to see a newsflash on BBC which showed President Donald Trump condemning the ongoing protests in many States and pledging to mobilise the military.

Dr. Martin Luther King and the great apostle of Christian love, the late evangelist Billy Graham, who preached about justice and equality would have been terribly saddened. Some protestors holding candles, reminded us of the words of MLK “Only light can drive out darkness”. Many US states are covered in the black cloud of racism and prejudice. It was also disgusting to see some selfish looters undermining the genuine essence of the protest.

Another major concern to the world was the abuse of a journalist, in full public view by armed policemen. A white female journalist was hit by a projectile (from the police line as she claimed), causing her to undergo emergency surgery and becoming blind in her left eye. The second episode showed a policeman charging a male journalist, using his fiber glass shield, knocking the media man to the floor. The worst was the arrest of a black American reporter who was covering the protests, when he was live on air on CNN. He was subsequently released. President George Washington once said “If freedom of speech is taken away, we may be led like sheep to the slaughter”.

The entire world has seen the high handed - racism in the law enforcement circles there. Of course there are good cops with mature minds in America. But police officer Derek has shown the world that there are racists like him in uniform. The united young protestors, including blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians have echoed the words of MLK “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. One of the protestor’s placards caught my attention - it just said Amerikkka (the KKK meaning the Ku Klux Klan- a white supremacist cult). I can conclude for now that the dream of the late crusader Martin Luther King has become a nightmare. 


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