Over the last 50 years this country has struggled to free itself from its racist legacy in pursuit of what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called an America where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Unfortunately there are still those, some even who were close to King, for whom race is the paramount consideration while character matters not at all.
It is surely an odd turn of events that finds us living in a country where character, behavior, is given less weight than it should in the course of everyday events while race has become a bludgeon to be wielded against political and cultural opponents of the dominant media culture. In ways both subtle and not-so-subtle race – ethnicity, skin color, national origin – are being manipulated to excuse behaviors that would not have been tolerated at the time King made his famous address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Neither political party is to blame for this. It is not solely a matter of partisanship; it’s more like a cultural sickness, the primary symptom of which is to use both race and racism as an excuse for illiteracy, lack of economic progress, the disintegration of the family as the primary building block of society, crime, terrorism and just about every other social ill that can be named.
At the same time character, which is expressed in the way one thinks, the way one acts and the way one reacts is discounted to the point where it is hardly counted at all.