Racial stereotypes still control us

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“I have a dream … my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. …      This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning … ‘From every mountainside, let freedom ring’—and if America is to be a great nation, this must come true.”

Source: I Have A Dream speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963, from A Testament of Hope, The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James M. Washington.

Has the dream come true?

Students at a recent San Fernando Valley Youth Summit, where Los Angeles Unified School District students talked about how to reduce violence on campus, had different views on whether King’s goals have been accomplished.

“Yes, I think the dream has been achieved, because different races can walk down the street and hold hands. I can talk to a white person. My godparents are white, and I look at them as people, not as white. … At Birmingham we have tons of Hispanics and blacks on the [football] team. When I’m in the line, I don’t look at race, I look at them as football players. We need everybody on the team to win.” 
Milton Knox Jr., 15, Birmingham HS (Van Nuys) Knox is a running back on Birmingham’s football team.

“There’s still a lot to be done. Somebody might make a speech, but most people don’t listen. People don’t really care what’s going on—that’s how people are.”
Nancy Cabral, 17, Taft HS (Woodland Hills)

“No, I don’t think so, because there’s still people that are racist and think about killing each other.”
Sergio Cespedes, 17, El Camino Real HS (Woodland Hills)

“The dream is achieved somewhat even though there are still people who are racist. It’s a lot better than it was in the past.”
Cherese Wiltshire, 16,  Monroe HS (North Hills)

“If Martin Luther King were alive today, he’d be proud because you see everybody talking to each other—what he said is coming true. If you are nice, understanding and have a good personality, you can make a new friend instead of being in a fight.”
Armand Razak, 17, Grant HS (Valley Glen)

“There’s new factors. It used to be between blacks and whites. Now it’s the Armenians don’t like the Hispanics who don’t like whites who don’t like blacks who don’t like Asians … Schools have been desegregated but people still judge on the color of your skin.”
Sumita Misra
, 15, North Hollywood HS

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, what would he work on?

“There’s a lot of work to be done. When you grow up, you hang with your own group. We ought to all hang out together because we’re all one.”
Thomas Pineda, 15, Grant HS

“We gotta have races working together. They should join clubs, eat together, play sports, so they can get along and see what kind of people they are.”
Josue Santillan, 17, Canoga Park HS

“Back then it was mostly black and white and segregated schools. Now it’s all races—Armenians, Russians, Jews, blacks, Latinos, whites—I think he would attack racism in general.”
Edward Danielyan, 17, Monroe HS

“If he were alive, he would have wanted more. There’s a bunch of stereotypes and brutality against certain people. At my school, the cops don’t treat everyone the same. During the riots [at Grant High in March 2005] a black and a Mexican got arrested. No Armenians got arrested. To me that says they don’t judge people on what happened. You’re gotta be equal about that kind of stuff.”
Mac Padden, 17, Grant HS

“Fights for no reason—that’s the stupidest thing.”
Kirstie Callen, 15, Grant HS

“We still have people fighting in Iraq. I think world peace would be the main thing.”
Milton Knox Jr., 15, Birmingham HS

“I don’t think we will have a black president. People still think of black people as ghetto, loud and obnoxious. We need to show them that we don’t want to be judged by the color of our skin.”
Markea Bell, 16, Taft HS