Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
But 50 years later, in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict, Maya Angelou told Time magazine we are still marching for justice.
Like it or not, it is black Americans who are failing to embrace Dr. King’s Dream and true equality. It is we who fail to build upon the foundation he laid at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. It was Dr. King who sought justice through love and peace, saying: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Reacting to the Zimmerman jury, it was our so-called black leaders who spat venom rather than promoted peace. There was little call for prayer — it took a back seat to calls for boycotts, protests and revenge.
Rather than asking for the country to lean on their neighbors for comfort, prayer and healing, the voices told us to separate ourselves from those who don’t look like us — that we don’t understand one another and don’t love one another.
These black leaders promoted darkness, rather than shepherd us toward light.
Why do they pit darkness against darkness and hate for hate?
Many of these leaders, alleged men of God, must examine their hearts and decide if their goal is to profess words of healing and progress or cause anger, hurt and disappointment. Are these leaders really true friends of the communities for which they supposedly advocate? The counsel of a true friend does not delight in misery and anger towards vengeance and wrath but should soothe, edify, encourage and calm. God’s Word says, “hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.”
Many blacks remain insecure about equality and all that it fully means to be equal. This not only applies to opportunity and freedom, but also to being fully accountable for our actions and character (race aside).
Many compensate for their feelings of being shortchanged and victimized by rewriting the terms of equality. This is seen in demands for affirmative action, social welfare entitlements and the zealous Zimmerman prosecution. Justice is measured in terms of blacks’ perceived value in society.
Lost time cannot be made up. Circumventing the consequences of our actions and skipping to the front of the line will not create true equality.
Something must be done to mute voices of darkness making us believe the worst in ourselves and our country. Our people are good. Our neighbors are good. Our country is good. We cannot let our self-appointed, self-aggrandizing “leaders” lead us away from the light.
We are not just the victims of America’s story of slavery and discrimination. We are also contributors and narrators of her triumphs over darkness. We too often acknowledge only the worst that has happened without trusting in the goodness we were given in this land and the good we have created in it.
That light is there when we become it. Our communities are more than our neighborhood and our church. True community rests in our fellowship with our sisters and brothers who come in all shades and colors and who are created equal in Christ.
This country cannot offer any reparations for its past transgressions. Only we can heal this country of its racial divide and tensions. It is up to us to forgive past wrongs and trespasses and bless America.
Only the black community has the power to make Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech a reality. As long as we hold on to anger and bitterness, however, we are never free and can never live in peace and gratitude for all we have been given.
Only when we sing about the love for our country and our neighbors, and pray forgiveness for our trespasses as well as those who have trespassed against us, will we truly reach that glorious mountaintop that Dr. King saw in his Dream.
Lisa Fritsch is a no-nonsense, common sense columnist and talk radio host based in Austin, Texas. She delivers smart and lively content in print and internet publications as well as on the radio as a guest host.