WASHINGTON, DC, August 26, 2013 - Yesterday, in Washington, DC, hundreds of thousands of people gathered on and at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was there a half a century ago, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Towards the very end of Kings remarks entertainer Mahalia Jackson tells King “Tell them about the dream…” leading to Kings famous lines about how he hopes one day his children would be judged by the “content of their character” rather than by “the color of their skin.”
Fortunately, we have come quite a long way from attack dogs and water hoses on civil rights protestors, Jim Crow and desegregated buses. There is an African American president in office, and last election, Blacks voted at a percentage to their population in the
There are still inequities in poverty, education and other areas, though America remains the land of opportunity where those who want to succeed can, although they may have to surmount hurdles, and some may have to overcome more obstacles than others.
It is fair to say King’s dream has come true, to a certain extent.
Today, most people are judged by the content of their character…eventually.
What is meant by that?
In general, we all still hold certain preconceived notions, biases, stereotypes and perceptions about other races based on our past interaction with members of a certain race in the past, what we have seen or learned about them in the media, read in books or believe, generally.
It is hard for many to unload these thoughts because they are ingrained in their psyche and subconsciously manipulate behavior and the way they initially react or speak to another person of a different race upon initial encounter.
Most times, misaligned or partially developed perceptions remain benign thoughts and don’t escape the lips or turn into action. Other times not. That’s when things get tricky.
But upon engaging in small talk, at a commuter stop, at a company event or other social circumstance, as we discover additional information and facts about those we come in contact with, the presumptions break down, (or substantiated in some cases).
It is not until we start to interact by talking to, working with, attending class with or developing a deeper relationship with others that we uncover their true character – separate from what we may have presupposed based on appearance alone.
It is at these moments of personal engagement that we determine how we are more similar to another person than different.
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