Thursday, August 28, 2008

45 Years Today.

Forty-five years ago today Martin Luther King, Jr. made his historic I Have A Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. As we all know, it was a landmark speech whose historical importance cannot be overstated. Period.

It being 45 years ago has been on my mind for the last few days. We have come so far in this country and I am proud of all of the hard work that people of all races have done in order for me to live my life in the way that I do. I’ve also been thinking that 45 years isn’t really that long a time. People still have deeply rooted biases and prejudices that sometimes even they aren’t aware of.

Here’s an example. When I drive from Santa Monica back to Hollywood, I take a short cut through the residential streets of Beverly Hills. It sometimes saves time, but always saves the headache of the traffic on Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. Plus, you get to drive through Beverly Hills, generally a pleasant experience. That person that you almost hit at that four way stop was Samuel L. Jackson! Today, as I was making my way through, I crossed a four way stop and saw a LAPD cruiser coming towards me perpendicularly. I thought nothing of it until he turned to follow me. I have learned to trust my feelings and it felt strange. After three more stop signs, he put his lights on and pulled me over. He walked up, asked for my license and registration/insurance then asked me if I owned my car. Weird feelings again. Why ask when you can read it on the registration that I’m handing you? He walks away to enter info in the computer, finds out that I’m “clean,” comes back to my car and asks “Were you just taking a shortcut…?” I tell him yes and that I do it all the time to avoid the traffic on the Boulevards, which satisfies him and he lets me go. He walked off before I had a chance to ask him why he pulled me over.

Why do you think he pulled me over? I am well aware of my skin color and the reputation of the LAPD. The sinking feeling I got as I drove away was not anger, but of disappointment. It was such a cliché.

It only raises questions: How far have we really come in the last 45 years, and how do we proceed from here on out?

All the information is out there, and has been well publicized. Racism and discrimination of any kind isn’t where we want to go. If so, then why do people not make more progressive choices? It has to do with the way we educate ourselves as children and as adults. Not only do we have to keep putting this information out there in schools, but just as importantly (and maybe even more) we have to expose ourselves to more art of all kinds. We also have to give our kids more experiences creating art so that they will be able to understand more of the art that they come across as they grow for the rest of their lives. Great art has the ability to let people see themselves without their own barriers and also lets them see who they could be. That one thing is how people make choices that cause them to grow from the inside out, so that they can be more compassionate to others and to themselves.

That is exactly why I do what I do.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

No comments: