Vol. 5    No. 1
January 14, 2010 Archives

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  As we worked on this issue today, I couldn’t help but keep sneaking a peak at different Internet news service
sites for the latest developments in Haiti. At first when I saw the headline, it didn’t have an immediate impact
because, quite frankly, the news about Haiti is always negative and earthquakes seem to happen all over. But
then, as the magnitude of this seismic event began to unfold, 100 times the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in
just a matter of moments, I couldn’t fathom the horror and shock that the Haitian people are going through.
  Our hearts and a check go out to the Haitian people in this their hour of need. We need to be there spiritually for
them as they endure yet another horrific chapter in their endless suffering. And we also need to provide them
material support so that they can get the basic necessities and medical care that they need to survive. While
giving, make sure you aren’t giving to some overnight scam that would take advantage of the suffering of the
Haitian people. But do find a trustworthy charity to give to. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
***
  Things have been hectic over the past two months trying to deal with a number of personal and professional
issues. It’s left scant time to sit back and reflect like I am wont to do at this time of year by reading some of Dr.
King’s works. The King Holiday serves — for me at least — as a time to truly ponder on where we have been
and where we need to go. It is a time to reflect on human dignity, our own and the dignity of all of the other
people we come in contact with on a daily basis. Have I lived up to the vision that Dr. King laid out for the future,
his ‘Beloved Community?’ Where do I go from here?
  There are so many signs of progress around us that we all can see. The election of President Barack Obama
was hailed by some as the beginning of a new era, a sign that American had left racism and prejudice behind.
But for every President Barack Obama that I see, providing leadership to the wealthiest and most powerful
nation on earth, there are many young men who are just hanging out with no direction in their lives.
Madison Police Chief Noble Wray has proven to be an effective leader of the Madison Police Department. His
handle on the public safety issues that our community faces, his able administration and use of common sense
makes us all proud. But for every Police Chief Noble Wray, there are many young men languishing in our jails
and prisons with no direction in life and without the skills to provide for themselves and the people they have
responsibilities for.
  And then there is Dr. Perry Henderson, the retired professor of medicine from the UW School of Medicine and
Public Health who as a gynecologist, helped deliver a village of babies into this world. And while he was
working and since he retired, Dr. Henderson has given of himself to many causes and has been a mentor to
many a future doctor or young man trying to find his place in this world. Dr. Henderson has had an admirable
career and is a wonderful role model. Yet for every Dr. Henderson, there are many young men who don’t have
health insurance and don’t access the health care system.
  Yes, we can revel in the accomplishments of these men and are proud of them. But their accomplishments
should not be used to blind us to the fact that there are many, many young men who are being left behind. We
have not reached Dr. King’s Beloved Community. While there is real substance to what these men have
accomplished, let them not be turned into images that blind us to the suffering, alienation and yes, discrimination
and ignorance that is experienced by many others.
  Madison and Dane County have made progress in moving toward Dr. King’s dream. It has made room for many
excellent and qualified African Americans and other people of color. But I wonder if we are ready for the
implications of what would happen if the achievement gap was eliminated and African American and other
students of color began to flock to our universities and became doctors and lawyers and the owners of
businesses. I wonder what would happen if many African Americans and other people of color began to take
positions previously held by Euro-Americans. As the people who have historically been at the bottom of the
pecking order suddenly made a move to the middle, would everyone else be accepting? Or would it reveal how
far we have to go before we achieve real equal opportunity. Would the standards change so that the general
nature of things would remain the same?
  These are things that I wonder about as I reflect on Dr. King’s Beloved Community. I think that we have seen
the initial rays of the dawn of a new day. We have made progress. But make no mistake about it, we do not live
in the day of the Beloved Community. If justice is to be served, we cannot let these initial rays blind us to the
reality of what must still be done. We must continue forward seeking justice and real equal opportunity. We must
continue to seek Dr. King’s Dream!
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                   Still work to be done!