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By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Thoughts on MLK Weekend

Uploaded: Jan 17, 2010
How far we have come, how far we have to go.

Here is a link to Dr. King's speech in 1963. Watch the entire thing, not just the "free at last" conclusion.

There is a trial going on in California about gay marriage.

Much bluster of late about immigration and immigrants.

I remember when King was shot, I was talking with my 8th grade teacher in Houston, and she said more or less--"he's a Communist, he deserves to be shot." Imagine a teacher at a Palo Alto middle school saying something like that to an 8th grader.

Race, sexual orientation, immigrants: attitudes are changing slowly, slowly by generation and geography.

My kids, now young adults, grew up in these rarefied environs of Palo Alto. Gay marriage? What's the problem? Racial differences? In this town, it is a matter of "class" as opposed to race. People who can afford to live here have more in common than less, regardless of ethnic background.

What I feel good about my kids is that many pre-conceived notions that I experienced as a "Boomer" are not part of their belief set. I suspect other Palo Alto parents have a similar perspective.

It is a generational thing.

On the other hand, I am uncertain how what I am observing about Palo Alto is distributed elsewhere in the country. I have spent a great deal of my years traveling around this country for business and pleasure. My perception is what is the case here in the Bay Area is the exception, not the rule.

I have a vivid recollection the day after Obama won the 2008 election, arriving at the Raleigh/Durham airport in North Carolina (which still was not officially decided.) The rent a car place where I was getting my car had 3 black women working the counter. I was the only customer there at the time and I asked them point blank "how do feel about Obama winning the election?" This white guy saw three young women just swell up, there was a palpable feeling that they displayed that I cannot even begin to understand.

I am hopeful. I watched Dr. King's speech before I posted this, and much of what he says in that address has come to pass, and much of it still remains unfinished business.

Those of us who cherish the rights of all must remain vigilant.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Jan 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

My big surprise and disappointment was the rapidity with which Dr. King's aspirations were trashed to be replaced by reversal of racial privilege. My advice to Reagan, to establish a Hero's Day,on which past and future heroes could be celebrated, would have been a better tribute to Dr. King.

Posted by Steven, a resident of ,
on Jan 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

People are taught bigotry when they are kids and as they get older, they often just get more stubborn. As younger people come in to power, the social climate does change. Unfortunately, progress is too slow for the people who grew up with limited opportunities because of discrimination. Hopefully the next generation will be free from it.

Posted by MidtownMom, a resident of ,
on Jan 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

MLK fought for the right things .. his actions opened up doors and opportunities to many many many people who are not whites.

This week, I had a chance to overhear kindergartners talking about what they had been working with (wrt MLK) through out the week. I had this feeling that these young kids were just made aware of the racial divide, it was a lesson 101 that people are "different" and at some point that mattered a hell lot ! Most of the kids at that age are not aware of the differences - yes, so-and-so does not look like me.. it ends at that.

We need to have a Heroes day - where all Heroes are honored equally !

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Jan 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm

As an echo to Midtown Mom above, my kids only started to look at the color of their friends/classmates skins when they learned about it at school from their kindergarten teacher.

If we didn't teach young kids about the differences, they would look on skin color the same as car colors. People come in different colors, sizes and shapes the same as cars.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Jan 18, 2010 at 11:29 am

Discussed the meaning of MLK's speech with my kids round the dinner table last night and they tried to define racism. Their comments surrounded an American fansite for Dr Who (a British sci fi tv series). There had been some talk about a new actor taking over the role a while back and according to the fansite, he would have been the first African American actor to play the part. This was an outrage to them, the actor was English, born in England and has black skin. This was pointed out by an 11 year old and a 14 year old.
They did not object in the slightest to the hero of the series changing his skin color, just the pc descrition of who he was.

Posted by yup, a resident of ,
on Jan 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Agree with Midtown Mom and Agree.

But, yawn..same old same old.

I would rather look at behaviors/beliefs which impede educational and employment opportunities and work on those, than look at color and set up fake divides and victimhoods based on color.

Posted by Dr. Gary Gechlik, a resident of ,
on Jan 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Martin Luther King was for all Americans. I think education is really the means to improve our country. In many places in the world, the way a person looks or what religion they believe in still has a large effect in how they are treated.

Only through education have we been able to transform our society positively. If not for universal public education, we would have a very unfair society. There is a long way to go. Just look at the great disparity in our state regarding education. The problem is not simply about rich and poor. A large problem is that people no longer want to pay for public education. What people forget is that a dollar spent on education is like ten dollars spent on prisons. This is because once a person commits a serious crime, society condemns them to a challenging life.

This is why we must find a way to fulfill Martin Luther King's dream of a fair society.

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