President Obama's public inaugural ceremony on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a fitting tribute to Dr. King's life and work. Fitting, but not the finish line. Racial progress has been made, but the floodgates have not opened and our work is not yet done. Full disclosure: though I believe Obama to be likable, charismatic and a great orator – all admirable qualities - I have not voted for him based on fundamental policy content differences. However, despite this, I believe Obama's election and re-election embody what Dr. King worked so very, very hard to achieve: that a person be judged, not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character; for who they are inside, not who they appear to be on the outside.
Race relations in America have a long way to go. In the 1990s, Tupac Shakur's words, "I see no changes," adding that we wouldn't ever "see a black president," rang out. He was wrong; it's too bad he's not still with us to see it. 45 years after Dr. King was taken from us, America finally did elect a black president. Twice. I believe this tells us something positive about race in America. Obama's skin color was not a barrier to being elected president. Regardless of policy position, I can't help but believe that Dr. King would be proud.
Race relations still have a long way to go. As fellow PolicyMic pundit, Edward Williams passionately argued, in many ways the work for the Black community is just starting. I would add, this includes all of us. We are not yet fully colorblind.
I would love to see controversial issues not divided along race lines. During NFL Quarterback Michael Vick's dog fighting trial, police had to separate white from black protesters – whites, whose signs said "dog killer," and black's, whose signs said "innocent until proven guilty." This was its own tragedy and failing in race relations – there must surely be whites who believe one is "innocent until proven guilty," just as there must be blacks who believe it's cruel and inhumane to dog-fight.
I would love to see a world where news organizations like NBC don't purposely try to stir racial tensions, as with the Zimmerman-Martin case. George Zimmerman is suing NBC for editing his 911 call — Zimmerman hadn't volunteered race information, the 911 operator asked for a racial description. NBC's edit: "He looks up to no good, he looks black” though there was a question in between directly asking about race. Regardless of whether Zimmerman is racist (perhaps innocent until proven guilty?), NBC's actions are reprehensible.
I would love to see no need for Affirmative Action, or Equal Employment Opportunity requirements that a certain number of minority candidates must be interviewed per job filled. The best candidate for a job should be the candidate that meets the job requirements the best – color not even considered.
For a number of reasons, we are not there yet. It takes all of us. If any of us – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Persian, Arab, etc. — judge any other person based on their race, we are being racist. Dr. King's Dream is for a world where we not only live together in unity, but where we are judged by the content of character for whom we are. We have not arrived; there shouldn’t be resting on our laurels. And though we as a nation have work yet to do, Obama's presidency fundamentally shows we have made progress.