57 years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. concluded his famous "I have a dream" speech
with these words, "When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestant and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last".
Dr. King was dreaming of an America that is truly free- Free from hatred, injustice and bigotry.
He was perhaps the first one to send a strong message that Black Lives Matter.
But, his dream sought more than that. One can say that he was aspiring for a new
American multi-ethnic culture.
Unfortunately, in the history of discrimination in America, ill treatment of African Americans is not the only dark chapter. Three other past discretions stand out.
The Native Americans (also called American Indians) arrived in the United States more than 15,000 years ago from Asia. When the European colonization of America started in 1492, there were many well established Native American nations in the country. Gradually through settler colonialism, hostile wars and breaking of treaties the native Indian nations were broken down and destroyed. At present, the number Native Americans in the United States has dwindled to about five million.
In the mid-1800's, about 20,000 Chinese immigrants literally changed America's landscape by toiling in the construction of Transcontinental Railroad. They were poorly paid, miserably treated and physically abused. Worst of all, history of these Chinese immigrants' hard work, dedication and contribution under inhuman conditions is largely forgotten.
During World War II, an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals in the U.S. were interned in ten different camps across the country. This was a system of legalized racial oppression.
These internees were kept in these camps under poor living conditions until the end of the war.
When will mistreatment of minority ethnic groups end?
How many will suffer before the country changes its attitude?
I hope George Floyd episode was the tipping point. We have never seen such an universal uprising before.
Let us hope the momentum builds up for full reparation.
Actually, I think the future can be brighter thanks to the new generation of Americans. I see our own children and grand children growing up color blind. For them, all men are truly created equal.
Since my immigration in this country in the 1960's, I see a nation that has gradually transformed. Then, about 75 percent of Foreign born population in the U.S. came from Europe. Now, America is no longer an outpost of Europe.
According David Brooks' 2013 article "A Nation of Mutts" in The New York Times, America will soon be,
"a nation with hundreds of fluid ethnicities from around the world, intermarrying and intermingling".
We see evidence of this in our own family.
According the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, White Americans account for 63.4%, Hispanic and Latino population 15.3%, Black or African American 13.4% and Asian 5.9% of the U. S. population.
Soon, none of the racial groups will command a majority.
Diversity may no longer be just a lofty goal. It will be a stark reality.
I hope the American society will be ready for that future.
This can be a blessing, or a curse.
As the famous educator E. D. Hirsch points out, it is fine for children to embrace their particular heritage, but also vital to create an "American Ethnicity".
These are our choices.
We can choose to develop a collective identity and embrace our new and unique "American Ethnicity".
Or, we can continue to be diverse, divisive and destructive.
I hope the current wave of disturbances do not foretell the future.
Let us hope that our children, grand children and all the future generations will choose to preserve the
golden goose better than we did.