What’s a white boy to do these days?
“For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny – their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., 39 years ago during his now legendary “I Have A Dream” speech during a march on Washington.
But this past summer, as I commuted daily to Greeley, I began to question the impenetrable bond that The Good Doctor said connected the peoples of the world.
As I drove eastward into the July sun at 7:30 every morning, I saw families of Mexican laborers on their hands and knees, picking sugar beets that are the most profitable crop of Weld County’s agriculture economy. And as I drove westward into the blinding sun with my air conditioner keeping me cool at 6:30 each evening, the same laborers were still working, still bending over and still sweating.
I realized that Dr. King’s proclamation that all people’s destinies are related was true, but there is no way he could have foreseen the stratification this partnership would create.
America and the world in 2002 are much different than in 1963. While African Americans have steadily climbed the social ladder in the United States, other dark-skinned laborers have taken their place at the ladder’s base.
In America, these workers are mostly Mexican immigrants, being used as the disadvantaged and disposable labor force at the bottom of the economic pyramid, while having their resources siphoned to the top.
And lately, that pyramid has become the glistening model of the unflappable relationship that is beginning to connect and unite all the peoples of the world – the rich utilizing the poor to stay rich and get richer.
But who can blame the rich? After all, I’ve heard a rich man’s heaven is a poor man’s hell – and who in their right mind would want to leave heaven?
So as valuable natural resources and labor continue to migrate from impoverished Second and Third World countries to the United States, Western Europe and Japan, the partnership of the rich and poor looks as if it is just beginning to blossom.
In the United States, the wealth of the 400 richest families grew by an average of $940 million each year between 1997 and ’99, an increase of more than $1.2 million per day, according to a recent article by Ralph Nader.
As the countries and regions of the world are becoming drafted by the “haves” and “have-nots,” certain organizations have begun to rise up to oppose the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund /_”- two Dons of the capitalism racket.
When these groups took to the streets in Seattle in 1999, it was one of the few times since King’s mass Civil Rights protests in the ’60s that young and old, dark-skinned and light-skinned Americans alike utilized the Good Doctor’s play book on social disobedience.
Some argue that these anti-WTO groups are unorganized, divided and lack the passion and commitment of the Civil Rights groups – but the fact is that the era when street action and protest could yield results seems like history.
Although King’s ideals, philosophies and spirit will live as long as people ask the question “Why?,” the protests that made him famous and changed the destiny of his people are unlikely to ever yield such results in the new millennium.
So where will the change come from if not from the dreadlocks and drums in the streets?
It will come from the boardrooms, the courtrooms and Capitol Hill. Now it is up to the people screaming for justice to find a way in.
Zeb is not an anarchist or a communist, he just likes to point out faults. He would like your comments.