- - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Just 60 years ago the civil rights movement began. This was a movement spearheaded by brave men and women to help bring an end to discrimination based on skin color and gender. I am very grateful for everyone who fought against discrimination. The question that I often have is this, would the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. be proud of how things are in the United States are today? If he were still alive today would he still be holding peaceful protest? Would the amount of racial tension that we still experience on all sides of this battle, cause him to rise up and attempt to create unity? I have no doubt that we have come a long way since the civil rights movement ended in 1968, but there is still much to be done. I believe what is needed now is for internal healing and open conversation about this country’s past.

Things are certainly better than they were, but there is room for much improvement. I am a strong advocate for unity among all ethnicities in the United States, but if there is ever to be unity in this nation, every ethnicity needs to be able to openly listen to each other about what is causing so much division.

Black vs. White

Being African-American is something to embrace. Being Caucasian is something to embrace. African-Americans and Caucasians are beautiful in their own way, along with Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabs. Diversity is beautiful. We allow the media to feed us lies of what it means to be from a certain ethnicity. I do not think that there is one universal way to be any ethnicity; an ethnic group is not a one size fits all type of thing. King’s dream was for so much more than African-Americans having equality in every aspect of life. I would say that it was for us as the human race to be able to live side by side without the fear of being discriminated against, ostracized, feared, or looked down upon.

I believe that ignoring the issue of what divides us will only cause more tension and more division. We the people of the United States, African-American and Caucasian, should be able to sit down and have heated debates about what it means to be black or what it means to be white in America. Let us look at some of our commonalities. We all have the same basic needs, such as food, a place to rest, companionship, clothing, etc. To go further, we all have two ears, two eyes, a mouth, a nose and a neck. The list could go on and on. To take a step even further, we all have a common origin. We all started from the same place. Yes, I am making this extreme because I want people to see how absurd it is to judge by the color of one’s skin.

The things that make most blacks different from whites in America socially is how we got here. A majority of today’s African-American population are descendants of people who were brought to America as a commodity and treated as property. Once they were freed they were forced into ghettos and suffered through much discrimination. As a result of what happened those many years ago, many blacks still live in less than ideal situations with poor education systems. The one way that I believe it true for blacks to escape is through greater access to better schools, which can lead to better opportunities. I would say that we are without a doubt still seeing the results of the injustice done.

Promoting Diversity, Bringing Unity

How many of you reading this has been told that colorblindness is a great approach to not being racist? I have as well, but I think that approach is dangerous. To me, that is a copout and a sure way to kill diversity. Ethnicity and the culture that we hold is what make each one of us unique. Everyone has family traditions and just like family, most ethnicities have traditions that should be celebrated. I would encourage everyone to get out of his or her comfort zone and start conversations with people who look different. If there is a misconception that you have about their ethnic background, then ask questions. As a young African-American I can say that not all black people like watermelon and eat fried chicken all the time. Actually, chicken has never been fried in my parent’s house. Being African-American does not mean that I come from a single parent household or that my parents struggled to make ends meet. Being African-American doesn’t mean that just because I am well spoken that I am “white.” I just know how to use my home training and education to my advantage.

Taking time to stop and think before you generalize will take us a long way. I know that it will help many people to not look at other people. Let us as a nation stand up together as Americans. We all may not have the same struggles, but that does not mean that we cannot help each other to get out of said struggle. King and the many others (black and white) that fought for unity did not fight for nothing. This nation has grown, but let us not digress. Let take their legacy far beyond even what they imagined possible.

@bull; Christian Givens is a Liberty University alumni who works as a field team assistant for Carson America Inc. He is also a young entrepreneur. He can be followed on Twitter @chrisaaron7.

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