The preamble of our country’s constitution states that it is self-evident: all men are created equal.
I went out for a run during my lunch break today. As I was running, I passed a pickup truck with a large confederate flag sticker plastered on the back windshield.
On this day – the holiday dedicated to celebrating Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, the life he lived, and his dream of racial equality – seeing that sticker on that truck seemed grossly inappropriate. Even more, it made me sad.
I grew up in a town that was, for the most part, racially divided. There were two high schools in town. One where mostly white kids attended, the other where mostly black kids attended. Every year, during the week before the big cross-town football game took place, many of the students from “my” school would drive around town with monstrous rebel flags waving out their windows or truck beds. The kids at “the other school” would often vandalize those very vehicles and destroy those flags. Fights would inevitably break out. Riots sometimes. It was horrific. Yet it was normal behavior for the time. And I didn’t really see anything wrong with it. Nor did I consider myself a racist. I had friends of multiple skin colors, and always endeavored to treat all with respect. But in the name of school spirit, I was willing to overlook the clear racial bias that still existed all around me. Even though I knew the origin of that flag and what it stood (stands) for. I was behaving in a very racist manner. Today, that flag reminded me how “easily” racial bias can be justified. But that does not make it right.
I’ve made a few trips around the sun since high school. In fact, it’s been almost a quarter of a century since I graduated. I’m different now. These times are different. And yet I was reminded today that we are still far from realizing Dr. King’s dream. Or even upholding our own constitution.
We still have much work to do.