Monday, January 16, 2012
A New Phase Seeking Genuine Equality
Coolican has a great column this morning where he allows Jim Crow survivors to tell their own stories of escaping "de jure" segregation in The South. It's really worth reading.
However in reading that, I was also reminded of the continuing "de facto" segregation we often face in society today. Even though "de jure" segregation was dropped here in Nevada during the 1960s, the combination of "The Great Recession" and chronic inequality has led to continuing struggles for minority communities here. All one needs to do is drive down Eastern Avenue to (minority-majority) East Las Vegas and North Las Vegas to see the great poverty in our community, then drive back up Eastern to see how well manicured neighborhoods in Henderson's (mostly white) Seven Hills and Anthem have been minimally impacted by the recession.
And it's not just Nevada. Despite the progress toward legal equality since the 1950s, America has been sliding back in the last 40 years as wealth has increasingly become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. And no, Mitt Romney, this is not about "envy". This is a serious problem. Without a functioning middle class, we don't have a stable pool of consumers to buy stuff, and the economy ultimately suffers.
Many folks remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his work to fight legal racial inequality. And yes, that was a great part of what he did. However, he didn't stop there. He also worked to combat economic inequality. And he laid the foundation for new frontiers of The Civil Rights Movement.
Both Coretta Scott King (Dr. King's wife) and Bayard Rustin (who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and worked closely with Dr. King) stood with Martin Luther King during his life, and both kept his legacy alive from 1968 onward by reminding us that injustice anywhere means injustice everywhere.
One of the great things that Martin Luther King achieved was the tying together of all these injustices and pushing for the end to inequality and injustice everywhere. And we still need this today. Whether it's unjust wars, poverty in our communities, xenophobic attacks on Muslim Americans, or the denial of full legal equality to LGBTQ Americans, the work has to continue. That's probably what we should think about today.