Editorial: I have a Dream, a Dream Met Last Week

by Placerville Newswire / Jan 15, 2018 / comments

[Cris Alarcon]

I have a dream today, that in El Dorado County, one of the most conservative counties in a wildly liberal state, we can discuss Race Relations and the meaning of Racism in a civil and productive manner, even in the wake of highly controversial (off mic) comments by a polarizing President calling some countries “Shitholes” in a off-cam negotiation over immigration.

And that day of my dream was met last week on Facebook!

I posted a story titled, "Placerville Progressives Stand up Against Racism at Local Newspaper". 

On Facebook the comments were bold and strong. Early on in a long thread of comments generated from my post, a friend made a strong statement that I could not leave unchallenged as I thought it misrepresented facts and current thought.  We are both Freemasons and we have a code that if a fellow Mason is wrong, we tell them be whispering it in there ear, not by a post on Facebook, so I was wary of countering my friend in fear of losing my honor, and my friend.  But I pushed on, and replied on Facebook..

I need not tell anyone familiar with Facebook that debates can get heated, ugly, and personal, and fast!  In light of the Presidential comment, and nationwide partisan feelings, this was a topic that could have exploded with a single f-bomb comment.  With hundreds of comment from many people with a wide range of political philosophies, and a wide range experience in racial bias.  It was a conversation that started with Trump’s comment, but quickly lead into a discussion of Dawn’s editorial in the local newspaper a few days ago re NFL Kneel Downs.

Feeling were strong and positions entrenched.  Many sideliners watched as the debate played out.  Some changed positions, some left out the same door they came in, policywise.

All of this is expected, but what transpired, was a Dream come true!

Many people, of many positions, stated their beliefs on the subject, including empirical facts and personal experiences, taking a side, or acknowledging a point made in opposition. All respectful and dignified, even when in strong opposition!

This may be of little note to some of the Bay Area newcomers to our community, but I am an old EDC Redneck that growed up on booze, bullshit, and horses and it is significant.  I know many of our roughest characters.  I have played both side of the field politically since before I was a teen.  I know some of our county’s finest, and some of its worst.  Is bigotry and hatred alive in our county today? You bet it is.  Is it a whole different kind and degree of bigotry?  That is a good bet also.

I was a white kid in a white community and racism was not a subject, mostly because there was not any cause to bring it up as we were essentially homogeneous.  The only Blacks I knew were some kids at Pondo that were great footballers.  They were as tough as nails, the only ways a black could live with us back then.  But because they did so well in football, the race issue seldom came up.  And the few times that I saw it, the harassed student would simply jump up and kick the harasser in the face!  Fight over.

When you get a bunch of young rednecks together, drinking beer at the dam past the trailer park, well the things said and heard would make your toes curl.  I know many of these from 40 years ago and many still live here.  Most have tamed, but not all.  I still know plenty of folks, back in the hills, that I would not trust for anything except to get a back-knifing.  Every place has some.

I only dated white girls growing up, as there were few other options.  It was not until I grew up and traveled the world did I come to understand racism in its many forms, and that racism, has nothing at all to do with race, but simply a way we categorize those with social power to those with less, or without, social power.

This became most clear to me when I traveled to Fiji, where Blacks are the dominant social class with whites and East Indians being the social underclasses.  It is there that I realized that racism is simply bigotry using skin-color as a classification.  All those things I saw applied to American Blacks, were applied to Fijian non-Blacks.  Then I realized that the actual skin color is irrelevant to racism.  The skin color is just a flavor de sur for applying bigotry.

Back here in El Dorado County, I came back home after traveling for about 20 years.  I was surprised to see that “Enviros” like Bill Center had made such significant inroads into the conservative county.  I was also surprised that there seemed to be a different overall tone to the community from back in the ‘80s.  More cosmopolitan.  I attributed this to the growth of El Dorado Hills and many new residents from previously urban environments.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that although open bigots still live here, they are pushed back far into the hills.

Here is a personal example of that change, In 1985 I met my future wife and wanted to bring her to my family home to introduce her to my mother, but was told I could not come to the house as my step-father said he would, “Shoot that nigger if she came on the property”...  

So we met at my sister’s restaurant in Cameron Park.  That was in 1987.

In Dec. 2000 I brought Sherri back to El Dorado County to start our new life, but not without reservations.  I had left the county about 20 years earlier with both middle fingers flying over my shoulders yelling that I would NEVER come back.  (Life is funny that way)

So last week was a milestone for me in many ways.  I have seen that the worst of the county is fading into the background while reason and tolerance replace them.  I have always loved our county as people are plain-speaking and upfront, as opposed to many I met in SoCal that are all about image and will stab you in the back while giving you a warm hug (OK, there is my bias showing).  

Towards the end of the tread that prompted this Editorial some said what a great thread it was.  I had to go back and read it over, a couple of times.  In the heat of give-and-take of particular details I missed the overall tone.  

One of honest curiosity and sincere civility.

OK, I love our county.  We have our warts like anyplace, but we have some of the best people living here.  People that help make the dream of racial equality a reality, both liberals and conservatives alike.

My dream that even in El Dorado County, we can discuss Race Relations and the meaning of Racism in a civil and productive manner, is a reality.

Happy MLK day 2018, Cris Alarcon.
 


Transcript of speech by

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

August 28, 1963. Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beckoning light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later the Negro is still languishing in the comers of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

We all have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to change racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice ring out for all of God's children.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted citizenship rights.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that 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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, )mowing that we will be free one day.

And I say to you today my friends, 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 mighty 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 there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and 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're free at last!"