“White people are intolerable…I’m in a good mood today,” Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned poet and activist, said when she spoke in Dodd Auditorium on Wednesday, Jan. 20 to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
But if King really was at Dodd Auditorium that day, would he have laughed like the audience did at that comment? Would he have seen a problem with that? Would a white guest speaker have gotten a standing ovation if he or she said that black people are intolerable?
I think that King would have stood up and said, “This is not my dream.” King fought a freedom struggle, a human rights struggle so that the world could see how prejudices in America were preventing our country from embracing its beauty and its humanity.
Instead, we Americans are still blind to the beauty of the American people. Black, white, whatever race, we still insist on placing a label on a human being.
Nikki Giovanni was honest in sharing how those same prejudices made Rosa Parks “stand up by sitting down” decades ago. Those prejudices are the reasons why our infamous American history has fourteen-year-old Emmett Till’s name written in it, and why his mother “wanted the world to see what they did to my baby.” Giovanni brought us back in time by presenting her children’s book on Rosa Parks to the audience.
But this week, when we commemorate King’s life, it feels like we as Americans are still blind to our prejudices. When will we see the dream that King saw? When will we see that his dream was not about a skin color?
“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.’ ” So I ask the UMW community, what did we celebrate with Nikki Giovanni? If all men are created equal, then aren’t we all just intolerable?
Simran Kaur is a junior.