Thursday, August 28, 2008

What I have...

…on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s I have a Dream Speech.

I

have

rights.

I have them and Lawd knows I put them to good use (wink). I will never forget the struggle fought in this country and throughout the world by regular people to achieve the rights I have. In honor of that struggle and for so many other reasons, I want to protect those rights for the generations yet to come.

I have expectations.

I expect my government to serve me…the levees to hold…and promises to be kept. I expect my fellow citizens to give a damn and, if they say they give a damn, to get off their ass and act on that shit. I have great expectations 'cause I know that we have tremendous potential and can achieve amazing things. I know this because my family's history is an example of that potential…and my legacy demands that it be realized.

I have needs.

Oh, Lawd…do I have needs.

I need to go to sleep at night and know that my family is safe from violence.

I need to go for a drive and know that I am safe from racial profiling.

I need to look in a magazine and find amusement rather than a series of insults.

I need the police to protect and serve the poor the same way they protect and serve the rich.

I need the media to cease being confused by black America and get about the bitness of understanding us.

And I need peace...

...not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.

I have hope.

I know what can be. That's what I see when I dream. What we can be makes my eyes well up with tears and my throat swell with emotion. But the struggle for social justice isn’t about what we can be…it is about what we are willing to be. The bullshit that we settle for because we, as a people, are too often governed by fear instead of courage…tradition rather than independence…and self interest instead of social justice.

Yet still...

...I have hope.

And I have the vote.

Members of my family...men and oh yes, women...earned the protected vote in 1965. And I wish my Grandmère was alive today to cast her vote for whoever she damn well would want to. My vote isn’t about candidates…I’ve been in this game too long to fall in love with politicians or be romanced by campaigns.

No, my vote is all about me and mine.

Do you feel me?

My rights.

My expectations.

My needs.

My hopes.

My vote.

My dream of what I could have...what I should have...

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


...what I will have.

11 comments:

Nikki said...

You made me tear up at work.
Thank you for this, and for so many other beautiful, moving, important posts.

midoriverdegreen said...

I wish i could vote.:(

Ben H said...

So you wrote yourself in?

frau sally benz said...

Wow, that just gave me chills. That was amazing.

Peterr said...

Oh, my . . . Yes, indeed, you have rights, expectations, hopes, needs, a vote, and a dream.

And you have one more thing, shark-fu: a community.

That is the truly powerful part of all of this: we are not alone in having all these things. That dream . . . it was a dream for all God's children. That old spiritual is not a solo, after all -- it's a chorus!

Keep on singing, Shark-fu. We're singing right along with you.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

That was beautiful. Thank you.

Let's hope and work to make it reality.

The Splendid Scribbler said...

What an incredibly powerful and beautiful statement.

Laurel said...

all I have to say is...
RIGHT ON! you moved me. thanks SO MUCH for this post. =)

Bruce Godfrey said...

Maximum respect from a Bitch's fan.

Travis Reems said...

My word, you are good! You have such a way with word, thought and emotion that captures the St. Louisan's, Missourian's and the American's spirit for hope and burning need for peace and justice.

In this era of the sound-bite, outside of the church's pulpit, we have lost our great orators. But you resurrect that great ability to move people to action through words. I find myself to be jealous of your capability to put such heart and spirit in your writing that is so eloquent.

You keep on!

Dianne said...

That was beautiful. You made me cry in my Cheerios.