Today I sit on a rowing machine in a monthly pay gym. I row and watch a TV with subtitles on, they are silent but the words I’m reading I are deafening. There is a panel of nicely dressed people of different ethnicities. The main opponents are both in what looks to be fine Italian suits.One man has combed to the side in a “made for tv” part, brown hair. The other’s hair is a more natural styling that looks to be his “get up and go” do. They take turns making well educated points about MLK day. One man’s opinion is that the United States is a place where you can make anything for yourself. The other’s is that it depends on your circumstances on what kind of opportunity that is given. The casual educated banter turns into a heated but professional disagreement. They will never agree or get anywhere in this format. Does one have a better argument than the other? Are we, as a country, doomed to never leave the 50’s? Will race always be a problem? Why did I just write that it’s a problem? I don’t know the answers but I wish I did. I would know what to tell my daughter when she asks why she heard a racist slur on the playground, it won’t be gone by then, and what it means. I will educate her about people like Martin Luther King and why they were so important for our country. Schools don’t do these topics justice, dancing around the subject like an ember that if ignited might burn they’re school to the ground. Why are school districts scared of real topics? I will have to tell her why headlines are about sports and celebrities today and people making useless comments about their terribly average lives on their various social media sites and why there are no real comments about a great man like Dr. King or very few for that matter. I have to teach her why we, again as a country, refuse to remember our past, embrace it and learn from it.
What does all of this have to do with me? I listen to the argument of people choosing a particular route in their lives. Gang members choosing to stay in the projects. Homeless people choosing to stay homeless. I look at these populations and more because these aren’t the only people making choices. I just use these as examples. I agree with the first guy that this is in fact a nation where you can be who you want to be but that’s about where our agreement stops. I have so many friends that have made it out of their respective “hoods” and are today very successful contributors to society. I also know plenty that have been swallowed by their own neighbor hoods and are forever kept down. My unique perspective; I was once homeless. I’ve been to the bottom of life on several occasion. I’ve failed hard at life. I’ve broken laws. I’ve lied to protect myself. I’ve been given a thousand opportunities to better myself and guess what? All of the second, third, fourth, fifth and on and on chances have finally paid off. I’m writing this on my brand new Surface Pro 3 on my comfortable couch, in a house that my wife and I paid for with a conventional loan. I’m going to work tomorrow for a company that took a chance on a guy with no education, just work experience. A job where I run my own shop and am given great responsibility. The questions that I propose are,What if I were black? What if I grew up in Oakland? How many opportunities would I have been given after my first failures? I read once ( a teacher that I respect wrote it),” our country is great because it gives you the right to try and fail. ” I don’t think he’s seen or understands growing up in a ghetto and I won’t pretend like I do either.
How does this affect you? Why did you assume the gentleman with the brown parted hair in the beginning was white? Think hard about that. These are my thoughts and do not express the views of everyone I know. Form you own opinions but before you do Think about how you will help or hinder society. An individuals perspective and voice can matter. Dr. King was only one man.