OAKLAND, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2017) — Monday marks the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech calling for brotherhood and racial equality, where people are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Nonetheless many civil rights groups say that dream remains unfulfilled.
Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center on Human Rights in Oakland, says the recent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., was just the tip of the iceberg.
“The vestiges of white supremacy aren’t just in the torches and the statues, but are in our policies such as who can vote and who can’t, who can get a job coming out of prison and who can’t, who is locked up and who isn’t,” he states. “All of those things are reflections of ongoing racial injustice.”
Norris says the country is experiencing a so-called “whitelash,” replacing the first black president with Donald Trump, who rose to power questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace, calling for a Muslim ban, insulting Mexican immigrants and questioning the impartiality of an American-born judge of Mexican heritage.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the president effectively endorsed racial profiling with his pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona.
Trump supporters contend the president is taking necessary steps to reduce crime and combat terrorism.
Norris urges the country to embrace a process he calls “truth and reinvestment,” similar to the “truth and reconciliation” proceedings in South Africa after apartheid.
“And until we reinvest resources away from punishment and prison, and toward opportunity for black and brown communities and low-income folks, we won’t see the needle advance and won’t see the dream fulfilled,” he stresses.
Over the weekend, news leaked that the president is now seriously considering ending the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which allows hundreds of thousands of people who were brought to the U.S. as children to get work permits and stay in the country.