Lets Not Forget

Dear Mr. Singh,

Every major civilization that has ever existed has probably faced some sort of social issue. Each civilization has had to come up with answers for questions of equality and the justifications of hierarchies. We are not the exception Mr. Singh, even though we are The United States of America; we too have had to face these questions. We too have had our fair shares of civil struggles. We have come a long way from annihilating slavery, but even after slavery we too must address other issues that also come along and linger with integration. For this reason, books like Why We Can’t Wait have become more and more important. We may not have slavery, but our population keeps growing diverse. The more diverse we become, the more we must examine our integration and make sure that we are not “separate but equal”, rather united and represented.

In Why We Can’t Wait Martin Luther King Jr. goes into great detail explaining the difficulties that African Americans faced because they were not truly equal. Segregation and inequality was a form of slavery. In this book ,he begins to explain that this notion of separate but equal was a deceiving notion because African Americans were separate but never equal. Aside from the Jim Crow laws that enabled segregation and inequality, this underlying mentality of not being one united nation with truly equal representation was creating a false hope and a wishful society. That is to say, Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that being separate but equal was a form of tokenism. He understood that African Americans would never be able to truly be proud of something because they were never given the true opportunity to truly achieve things and be great until they were equal. This is not to say that there were no great African Americans, rather to point out that there was a false sense of achievement. For example, every African American should have had the opportunity to go to an elite school. While this was a theoretical truth, the reality was another. Therefore, there was one only James Baldwin rather than 50 or 60.  James Baldwin was praised because he overcame many obstacles, but is that to say that there were only a handful of African Americans with talent? No. There were probably hundreds of talented African Americans.

While this seems to only affect the African American community, it affects everyone in society. In recent times, we have banished things like the Jim Crow laws but we must make sure that our pop culture stays pure from these prejudice ideologies. That is to say, we often hear about how certain cultures experience informal segregation. For instance, we often classify neighborhoods this way: “Mexico town” or “Mini Cuba” or “Black neighborhood”. While we may simply be observing trends, we must be reminded of the fine lines between observing trends and detecting segregation and signs of tokenism. Its books like Why We Can’t Wait that reminds us (as a society) the importance of constantly taking a stand for unity and equal representation in all aspects. Like Martin Luther King Jr. points out, socioeconomic factors are strong influences. It may have been African Americans feeling the pressures of prejudice, but any group is susceptible if we forget.



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