Today I thought “Hmm. I’ve been so busy with preparing for school that I haven’t had time to even think about another blogpost.” But I found something in the final hours of the day. I read another article on human trafficking at Change.org, but this time it was an apology to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for our lack of progress. As much as I usually enjoy Amanda Kloer‘s articles, I found this one particularly useless and painful to read. Yes, there are many who believe racism is dead in the US because now we have a black president. Yes, the Golden Globes were a clear example of our seemingly frivolous ways of spending money here while many besides Haiti across the world suffer. And yes, this article in the San Jose Mercury News may be a feel good piece about teens making a difference in the Bay Area.
But these are not things to apologize for. Over 40 years ago, none of these things would even be part of conversations. Let me start with the first point about racism. I completely agree that there needs to be a re-awakening about the racism issues here in the United States. My little brother (17 years old) thinks that racism is dead because of Obama. He saw a billboard for The Princess and the Frog and said “Look, Disney can do these things now because there’s no racism anymore.” That scares me, but it initiated a discussion about racism in the US.
We are hapas, and he takes his Asian side so seriously that he supports almost all public Asian figures over any other ethnicity. Our mother is also a recently out-of-the-closet lesbian, which always adds another level to our civil rights discussion. He has no problem with gay people as long as they have nothing to do with him. I always remind him of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner when Tracy and Hepburn realize that, while they’ve taught their daughter to be open-minded, they are shocked by the idea that she would want to marry a colored man. I could go on and on about how my brother feels about my mom (and how upsetting it is), but regardless, my point is that eliminating racism has been and will always be a constant struggle.
Second, I almost feel personally offended by the attack on the Golden Globes. You could say those kinds of things about any of us: you ask them to take off their jewelry, then why don’t you get rid of some of your possessions? Yes, I know that most of the jewelry they wear is rented, and many of them live over-the-top lifestyles. But to attack the Golden Globes? At least they recognized Haiti, and maybe alerted ignorant viewers who may not watch the news or care. Many of those celebrities are donating to causes. The Golden Globes are a tradition, however meaningless and frivolous. Film is a tradition, and is most certainly not meaningless or frivolous.
Watching Martin Scorcese accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award reaffirmed the importance of art. (the sound is off in the video.) It makes us human, and its preservation keeps us human. Scorsese loves film and the people who make films all around the world. He talks about the film community as his family. And without film, we would not have achieved many of King’s dreams. You can think whatever you like about the indulgence of film, but think about how often they are the first to put issues in the public sphere, however inaccurate they may be. How many people knew about the conflict in Sierra Leone before Blood Diamond? Would people have not cared about HIV/AIDS had films like The Ryan White Story and Philadelphia not been made? Would people have even acknowledged racism today without Crash? Do you think people gave interracial marriages a second thought without Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? If the Golden Globes had been any less fabulous or canceled, it would have kept us in a deeper depression and killed just a bit of the little hope we all have for humanity.
Lastly, this article with interviews with youth is not hopeless at all. Many of them recognize that racism is still an issue. I don’t feel this article was meant as a cover-up of our flaws and failures, but instead a glimpse of hope for the future. Yes, some of the students had simple, seemingly shallow responses about experiences and opportunities they’ve had. I especially agree with Briana Stansbury’s point about bi- or multi-racial people. We are by-products of tolerance, and personally I think that makes us almost superior (for another less serious discussion). I think Andrew David King said it best: “Now it’s time for us to take this progressive outlook further and live King’s dream by promoting equality and peace proactively, not passively.”
Today is not a day to dwell on our mistakes, or to write apologies to a dead activist. Today is a day to celebrate our achievements and acknowledge our future struggles. King’s dream is a tough one to achieve, and we’ve just gotten started.