Monday, January 16, 2006

This Martin Luther King, Jr. day began overcast and murky in Saint Paul. I'm up early, can't sleep. My house is deserted. Figure I might as well go into work and catch up on my sick days.

Damn, I think. Do any of the buses run today? Well, other people have to go to work, don't they?

When I transfer to the 21 bus near work, I greet a black bus driver. I tell him Happy MLK day. I immediately wish I hadn't.

Martin Luther King dies in 1968, after having changed the American social and political landscape forever. Yet, as a memorial video pointed out on Sunday, most of King's fears have been realized. He was the great martyr of the Civil Rights Movement, and 38 years later, we have come as far as the streets that bear his name. (Which, incidentally, have been argued and fought in many cities.)

You know the stats, and I won't beat you over the head with them. But, suffice to say, I was taken to work today (I, a white person, privileged enough to hold off paying my loans to volunteer for a year) by a black man who has to work on a day in memory of a man who died on a trip to support striking sanitation workers. What?

Yes, many things have changed, and things have been for the better. But I have to say that in all the doom-saying rhetoric of the current government, they are remarkable at waxing so optimistic about race-relations in this country that even something like Katrina didn't really shake them that bad.

So optimistic to the point of forgetting the reality. Liberals are supposed to be out of touch with reality, right? We can barely hug our trees or get an abortion in a French-flag waving ACLU building without blood spilling from our bleeding hearts. We have no idea about what the terrorists really want (or, for that matter, what God wants, as God's plans have apparently been faxed exclusively to the Religious Right and Pat Robertson).

But, man oh man, we must seriously be off about the reality of race in America. Everything's fine! On with your business!

I have to go to work, now. Or, start working.

May peace be with you this day we celebrate a great patron of peace.


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