[Letter to the editor]Race in America

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[Letter to the editor]Race in America

Last week in my World News class, we discussed the topic of race in America. As much as I attempted to find a speech more relevant and unique than Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech, I realized that although 40 years have passed, King’s message is still the disturbing and unfortunate reality in America today.
King was a preacher of tolerance and faith, a builder of bridges and a beacon for racial reconciliation. His memories and his words live on in classrooms around the world from Jangyu, Korea to Sunnyvale, California (my hometown).
No matter how many times I listen to his now famous speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, I never fail to shed a tear.
The impact of his words and the passion he exudes clearly illustrate his authenticity and tireless tenacity in bringing much-needed change to a divided America.
Interestingly enough, after listening to his speech last week, I came away with a different message.
It dawned on me that even though King’s message of hope is studied, dissected and then examined again in all corners of the world, racism and the bigotry that accompanies it is ingrained in American society.
A question emerged in my mind: How long do we have to continue studying King and telling students that racism is still present in today’s America? Will there ever be a day when a high school teacher or college professor can convincingly say, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights legend and the man who precipitated the end of racism in America?”
Personally, I am disgusted by stories about nooses hung on professors’ doors and loan applicants getting rejected for having the wrong last name. And worst of all, for neighborhood property values to decline when blacks move in. These incidents are not history, but really need to be.
Yes, King sparked a revolution that led to laws promoting equality for all races, but I’m sure that King, God bless his soul, would be vigorously disenchanted with the results of the last 40 years.
I am not satisfied by the veiled discrimination and politically correct rhetoric voiced by countless members of society that laud King as a mentor, yet disgrace his legacy by not acting on his aspirations. As long as the “N” word is still used by blacks and whites and as long as stereotypes encumber bona fide efforts at genuine integration, more action is needed.
Do you know what my dream is? I dream of a day when teachers across America and the global community can uniformly and unequivocally state: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now history.”
Dennis Yang
English Instructor, Gimhae Foreign Language High School
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