The Dream: America's Anti-Black Bias
Are Blacks still experiencing discrimination in the area of jobs, education, and legal rights?

The Dream: America's Anti-Black Bias

Every American, whether from Martin Luther King Jr.'s generation or today's generation, knows the quote from his 1963 Washington D.C. speech "I have a dream," where he said "1963 is not an end, but a beginning." Looking back now, over thirty years later, what exactly was it the beginning of? The quality of education has certainly improved for blacks, as segregation disappeared, but is discrimination really gone? It seems that the black Americans of today still are not fully receiving the benefits of equal opportunities guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

Bobby Harmon, 45, an African American man living in Hagerstown, Maryland, shares that feeling. He feels that whites are not only in control of the government, but they continue to have the advantage economically. Harman also believes they hold more "power positions" in the workplace. When asked the question of whether black people are fully accepted in American society, Harman, and another African American male, Aaron Horton, 17, both said no. Harman also felt that his idea of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream -- where "all people, whether black or white, having a world where we can all live together in harmony and peace"-- has not yet been fulfilled. And though Horton said of the relationship between whites and blacks that "there's not that big separation now," he still often feels a distance from white people.

It isn't only the voices of two people that makes one feel that discrimination still exists in America. I see it in my own class, among my peers. Recently, in a classroom debate about the difference between "standard" English and so called "ghetto" English, the majority of those who participated in the debate felt that under all circumstances "ghetto" English is wrong and inappropriate. The feeling was that "ghetto" English is merely slang, with little meaning. The refusal of this fully white group of high school students to accept a different way of life other than their own, demonstrated to me the narrow-mindedness that causes racial injustice as teenagers as well as into adulthood. They seemed unwilling to understand that white people who force a variation of a language merely considered "correct" from habit on any person, regardless of race, is unfair. This situation is only one example of the slighting of blacks and their culture that happens everyday in our country.

Many statistics also prove our hypothesis that white Americans hold power while black Americans still don't have equal opportunities. Among all the unemployed in recent years, an average from the years 1968 to 1987 states that only 7% of white people are unemployed while 19% of black people are jobless. Also, the poverty level of 1990 for white males was only 8.3% but 24.1% of black males live below the poverty level. In 1986, 14% of black families earned less then $5,000 a year while only 3.5% of whites received that low of an income. Another example of whites holding the power is our United States government. In 1987, there were no black governors, only 1 black senator, and in the U.S. House of Rep- representatives only 49 delegates out of 435 were black. Judges also seem to favor whites in criminal cases. Only 1% of white males from the ages of 16-34 are in prison. 6% of black males 16-34 are in prison. (Social Problems, pages 35-36)

Based on the items discussed above, it is obvious that blacks are still discriminated against in education, jobs and the area of legal rights. Although parts of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream have become reality, in our country, much of it is still a myth.

Kate Y.
Sharon V.

1. Unpublished Interviews by Kate York, 1995.
2. The Plight of Young Black Men in America; Washington Post National Weekly Edition, February 12-18, 1990. 3. "I Have a Dream" speech, Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963. 4. Social Problems, Volume 20 Basic Reference Library, 1989-1990

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