September 3, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
I am aware that you are confronting difficult moments during the unrest in the Middle East. But here is my humble advice to you:
At my school in Kolkata, far far away from the American civil rights movement and the red hills of Georgia, I Have a Dream was an elocution favorite. Tutored by Belgian priests, Bengali students from resolutely middle class families belted out their renditions of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech. Stripped of its historical context, delivered in the prone-to-breaking voices of teenagers, our tremulous interpretation of an African-American preacher's cadence often landed somewhere in between the thunder of Amitabh Bachchan and the jatra of folk theatre.
While justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream sounded like an excellent idea we had little sense of what any of it really meant. Unlike Mississippi, â€œa state sweltering with the heat of oppressionâ€ we were just plain sweltering in a stuffy auditorium in the humid Kolkata summer. We were all for letting freedom ring but we just hoped not to stumble over the â€œheightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.â€
The 50th anniversary of the monumental 1963 March on Washington was accompanied by a wave of commemorative events that tried hard to recapture the energy and the spirit of the 1963 March. This was a tall order. The original march, punctuated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s towering "I Have a Dream" speech, acted as a powerful wrecking ball that crumbled the walls of legal segregation and ushered in an era of unbridled opportunities for many blacks.
The results are unmistakable today. Blacks are better educated, more prosperous, own more businesses, hold more positions in the professions, and have more elected officials than ever before. Yet the towering racial improvements since the 1963 March on Washington mask the harsh reality: The challenges 50 years later are, in some ways, more daunting than what King and other civil rights leaders faced.
Dear Mr. President,
In the post George Zimmerman verdict the discussion has focused on racial profiling in America, but Representative Steve King, Republican-Iowa, does not seem to care â€“ feeling the need to spew his hate against immigrants in the United States.
Kingâ€™s diatribe was published on conservative news website Newsmax reacting to high-achieving young immigrants by stating: â€œFor everyone whoâ€™s a valedictorian, thereâ€™s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and theyâ€™ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because theyâ€™re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.â€