“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Have we made enough progress on racial issues in America? There is a weighted question for you to ponder. The quote above embodies the gravity of this moment. Dr. King speaks to the intricate complexity that every agent for change must face. The first thing that we must embrace is that we are looking to make progress and we are dealing with humans. As humans, we are emotional beings. Even more, the issue of race in America invokes a great deal of passion on both sides of the argument. However, the focus should be on progress. Progress intrinsically requires movement beyond emotions into rational behavior.
A few years ago, I wrote about a devastating incident at McNally’s that I experienced while playing in a blues band. My parents worked hard to send me to Catholic school. The neighborhood they moved me to was changing from an all white neighborhood into a more mixed neighborhood. Although the school was a reflection of that, I had become accustomed to being the only or one of the few black people in the room. As a result, it was not weird for me to be the only black musician in an all white blues band. However, in 2014 it was shocking to experience such blatant racism.