As black Americans commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and specifically the delivery of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I ask has anyone definitively defined what American society is supposed to be? What it means? What it’s supposed to look like? For weeks I have been hearing one constant theme: “We have more work to do?” With vague notions of what the goal is, it seems like there will always be “more work to do.”
I expect a society to be in a state of flux. Modern societies, especially ones that are supposedly based on free expression and free markets should be dynamic. Change should be the rule, not the exception. Given the class and racial divisions that continue to define this country instead of continued moves toward a “one aim, one destiny” type of unity, I see instead a desire to maintain positions, to carve out territories in government and the nation’s economy. “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.”
It’s ironic especially among American blacks that any attempt to integrate aspects of society: church attendance, school attendance, interracial marriage, crossing school districts, etc., is received by scorn, ridicule, and calls to “stay with us.” Makes me question what was the purpose of putting all this energy into desire to be a nation of equals?
On the other hand, maybe it has never been about moving toward a society that wants to live and work together. Maybe it’s simply about having the choice to make certain decisions about how we live our lives, engage our social surroundings, and participate in our economy.
I can deal with the latter. Personally I don’t believe in equality. As I’ve said before, the pursuit of equality means chasing a standard that most black Americans never had a role in crafting in the first place. The real reason that there is still “more work to be done” is that too many blacks spend too much intellectual and emotional energy chasing an exogenous standard that changes too often, with those changes put in place by those who hold the most economic, social, and political capital in the country.
The real work to be done is for black Americans to create and live by their own standards; standards for engaging their economy and holding their political leaders accountable. Standards for raising their children, and standards for directing the flow of capital to those willing and able to put capital to the best productive use.
The hardest thing for black people to see is that they need no one’s authority to do these things. Igniting their own authority may be the hardest part of all …