“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” –
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
To be extremely transparent, this has probably been the hardest blog post for me to write. I have started, stopped, reconsidered, rewrote, and second-guessed almost every word. The topic is so sensitive, and the possibility of being misunderstood is so great, even attempting to grasp it with one blog entry seems impossible.
To say nothing would be negligent with the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict just a few weeks in the past and the commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington and the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech given by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King literally days away. Can we definitely say one way or the other that as a society we judge people by the “content of their character and not the color of their skin”? I think there can be some consensus that we are not in that place yet.
Can we “rule-out” that the dream that Dr. King talked about will ever come to fruition? I don’t have enough information to make that diagnosis. I am hopeful that in the future months and years, our nation will take strides to listen to each other and not make the erroneous assumption that we have arrived in a “post-racial” utopia that does not presently exist.
It starts with less talking and more listening. It continues with people being less concerned with being right and more concerned about being compassionate. It is realizing that I can’t really put myself “in your shoes.” I have to listen to you and hear you when you tell me what wearing your shoes is like. It starts with something as simple as looking at each and every person and giving them the respect of being an individual regardless of their differences.
In less than a month, we will be back in classrooms with our fellow classmates. I encourage you to have the tough conversations and ask, respectfully, the questions that may be sensitive. That is how we will grow as individuals and as a society.
Why should this even be a concern for counselors? It is a consideration because the client sitting across from you or in your counseling group or your colleague or friend has a dream, too. That dream may be a part of the American Dream, a part of the dream of equality or another dream entirely. Listening to, respecting, and even advocating for their dream may be the help that they need from you.