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I Have a Dream vs Affirmative Action

Trying to reconcile MLK’s “I have a dream speech” with racist affirmative action polices. Can’t be done.

Writes Edwin Locke:

What should we remember on Martin Luther King Day? In his “I Have a Dream” speech Dr. King said: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This statement means that in judging other men, skin color should be ignored–that it should not be a factor in evaluating their competence or moral stature. It follows that skin color should not be a factor in taking actions toward other people, e.g., hiring and admitting to universities.

What has happened in the years following King’s murder is the opposite of the “I Have a Dream” quote above. Colorblindness now has been replaced with color preference in the form of affirmative action.

  • writeby

    Agreed, Dr. Locke (& Mark), as a specific, out-of-context (of King’s ideas) quote.

    However–in my respectful opinion–one must eventually consider King’s line in the context of his fundamental ideas.

    King was a Marxist and an egalitarian who sought, as he quoted from Scripture in the very same speech, to raise the valley and lay low the mountains and hills. He sought equality, not merely in the context of politics–equal *property & individual rights* “before the law”–but also socially, culturally and economically.

    Like those who followed, King sought absolute equality as the means to achieve inclusiveness, the foundation for the egalitarian’s Ideal community, one in which everyone, despite looking different, would be united in their ideas, feelings, desires and needs, where everyone would have the exact same opportunities, where everyone would belong (and, of course, want to belong) and where men, through their concerted effort of hope, will and muscle, could shape a reality of joy, freedom and abundance.

    In the name of the Common Good, and of Equality and of the Holy Collective. Amen.

    So when he says, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” his vision of that nation is one in which his children will have *the exact same opportunities, the exact same reactions to them, making the exact same decisions with regard to them and achieve the exact same results* as everyone else’s children.

    Affirmative action is consistent with the religion of egalitarianism and, thus, with King’s goal.

    How else does one level a mountain and raise a valley if not by (affirmatively) taking from the mountain to (actively) fill in the valley?