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The fierce urgency of Now

From “I Have a Dream

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

By contrast, here’s something from today’s Chicago Tribune:

…In a changing American culture with an increasing minority population, skin color is becoming a more common gauge for some Americans — of all races — to determine who fits in and who does not, sociologists said.

A caste system that novelist Alice Walker termed “colorism” has existed within the black community since slavery, stemming from the hierarchy established by slave masters for the light-skinned blacks who worked in the house and dark-skinned slaves who tended the fields.

Pigmentocracy also has long been a divisive issue among Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups. Now, it has flowed into the mainstream, according to experts who follow bias trends.

We also contend with the continuing economic ramifications of our country’s segregationist past, something that often couples poverty and wealth to make the whole situation difficult to address and understand. To top it off, our country’s denial about its history and present make it extremely difficult to talk about race at all, much less in mixed groups.

So today I spend some time thinking about the fierce urgency of now, and wondering what I can do in its glaring light for my society, my friends, and my children.

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