Rethinking The Dream: A Dream Deferred in Today’s Context ?

kennedy-110-lexI have been really taking some times to pour over the pages of history, my own personal family history of course. But  lately I have interested in the African-American experience, because my history is a bit different. It is an amazing story that makes me wish that one day African-American History will be part of American History and not a speciality side order like the biscuits and fries everyone imagines I get when I order fried Chicken as the local Kennedy’s Fried Chicken.

One thing I come across over and over is the idea of “The Dream“. The Dream was something many either put themselves in harm’s way or died for. The dream of economic, social, financial equality is an intoxicating one, but for me things are different.

In Today’s Context

If I am going to be honest with you I must admit that the version of democracy we are sold at schools and election time is not really representative of the democracy we have at this time in history. Corporations exert an undo influence on the democratic process.

peasants-for-plutocracy-by-michael-dal-cerroIn the work that’s essentially the gold standard in the field, it’s concluded that for roughly 70% of the population – the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale – they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised. As you move up the wealth/income ladder, you get a bit more influence on policy. When you get to the top, which is maybe a tenth of one percent, people essentially get what they want, i.e. they decide the policy. So the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy.

Add to this that voting rights are not guaranteed any more, the large disparity between public opinion and public policy, the disappearance of a true left on the political spectrum, massive cuts to education, the militarization of the police, the cooperation between corporations and the FBI to stop protest, massive domestic spying; can equality exist in such an environment ?

Look at a recent Article in the Nation

Forget the ‘Hunger Games’: Dystopia Is Alive and Well in America

The author raises an important question: Why don’t we see and are scared by how our country has changed and become a vast dystopia:

  1. Meanwhile, to the tune of a trillion dollars or more a year, our national treasure has been squandered on the maintenance of a war state, the garrisoning of the planet, and the eternal upgrading of “homeland security.”
  2. Domestically, the US has grown more militarized as “security” concerns have been woven into every form of travel, terror fears and alerts have become part and parcel of daily life, and everything around us has up-armored. Police forces across the land, heavily invested in highly militarized SWAT teams, have donned more military-style uniforms, and acquired armored cars, tanks, MRAPS, drones, helicopters, drone submarines, and other military-style weaponry (often surplus equipment donated by the Pentagon)
  3. In a parallel development, Americans have themselves become more heavily armed and in a more military style. Among the 300,000,000 firearms of all sorts estimated to be floating around the US, there are now reportedly three to four million AR-15 military-style assault rifles.
  4. And don’t even get me started on imprisonment, a category in which we qualify as the world’s leader with 2.2 million people behind bars, a 500 percent increase over the last three decades, or the rise of the punitive spirit in this country. That would include the handcuffing of remarkably young children at their schools for minor infractions and a fierce government war on whistleblowers

So Now with that Said

So where does the dream of equality on all fronts, fit in to all of this ? I have no idea personally. One April 3rd, 1968 MArtin Luther King Jr had this to say:

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

Is America a better nation  now than it was in 1968 ? Are we in a position to address corporate influence, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor? Are we even set up as a nation for any kind of coming together or discuss across the different barriers of race, creed, gender, religious practice ?


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