Monday, January 17, 2011

Are we living the dream?

With today being Dr. King's birthday and having to teach today, I had a few thoughts on him and our world today.  I know this can be a sensitive subject and I sincerely hope that I offend no one with my thoughts and opinions.

Normally, we do not have school on Dr. King's birthday, but even so as the day approaches, I usually think, "Is there anyway I can tie this in to Spanish?"  I have yet to come up with a way to do that, so the day passes without much fanfare in my classroom.  And yes I could just talk about it even though it has nothing to do with my subject area simply because it is important.  However, I have been told in the past by administrators that everything I teach should be related to my subject area and they really mean EVERYTHING.  So if I can't relate it, I don't teach it.  This is the category into which this holiday normally falls.  However, today since we were in school, I took the rebellious stance of simply talking about it because it was important.  So in a couple classes we listened to the "I have a dream" speech and a couple others.  I asked the students to think about how we are or are not living that dream. Since I asked, I began thinking about this as well.

To answer the question, 'how are we living 'the dream'?' one simply needs to take a quick look into the history of the civil rights movement and see how far we have come.  So this question didn't really interest me.  The one that interested me more was, 'how are we not living 'the dream'?'.  I have a few thoughts about that.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when students and parents choose to celebrate this day not by educating themselves, but in protest by skipping school.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when I as a white woman feel uncomfortable even talking favorably about Dr. King and his legacy.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when we judge people now by the language they speak instead of the "content of their character."(1)

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when there are still many who believe they "have nothing for which to vote."(1)

I am in no way suggesting that we have not moved forward significantly.  I am also not suggesting that those who fought, and I mean fought, for civil rights were fighting in vain because of the work we have left to do.  I am simply trying to put a few thoughts out there in honor of Dr. King's memory and his dream. 

(1)King, Martin Luther.  "I Have a Dream." Washington D.C. 1963.

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