Realizing The Dream Essay
This week we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and his monumental effect on civility, equality and peace in America. From a time devoid of social justice, King stood out and continues to stand out as a pillar of progress in America. But can King’s dream truly be realized? The Life in Perspective teen board considered King’s efforts to challenge the status quo and our own generation’s efforts toward equality.
— Aaron DeVera, Foothill High School (Pleasanton)
I have always believed Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream could become reality, especially in California. Of all the states, we have one of most diverse, accepting and welcoming atmospheres. Not only can we openly be friends with and form relationships with people of ethnicities other than our own, but we can experience their culture and lifestyle as well. For example, in a major shopping mall’s food court it wouldn’t be unusual to have a choice of Thai, Italian or Mexican food — all in one convenient place. While it may not be something we often dwell on, having that many options at your disposal wasn’t always the case. Nor was a white person sharing the water fountain or bathroom with “colored” folk. Now, white people can be classmates, co-workers and friends with people of any ethnicity or cultural background. Our generation is living proof that King’s dream would one day become reality. We are living his dream now, and just as he said, “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
— Gino Mascardo, De La Salle High School (Concord)
Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream will become reality when race isn’t what’s used to think of people as different. His dream was that everyone would be equal, and no one would be thought of as different. That won’t happen until race isn’t a big issue. If we apply for something like a job or scholarship, it asks for racial background. Why should that matter at all? I think that progress has been happening very slowly. However, there is still racism in my community. Where I’m from, most racism is directed toward Latinos. People say they don’t belong because they’re not from here, and assume that they don’t know English because they also speak Spanish. Also, I know people who voted for President Barack Obama just because he was black, not because of what he stood for. King’s dream will not become reality until everyone is considered equal to one another.
— Assia Day, Mount Eden High School (Hayward)
Martin Luther King Jr. once had a dream. That dream, forever ingrained in every American’s mind, already has become a reality and is only becoming more real as time goes on. Infringement of the 14th Amendment results in strict scrutiny in the courtroom, proving how seriously the U.S. government considers racial equality to be. Governmental policy has lived out King’s dream, setting the trend for Americans in their own lives. It would be easy to say that our country does not treat all people equally, especially after the Sept. 11 attacks and the influx of illegal immigrants. However, socially, our country is considerably more conscientious, understanding and respectful of all people now than it was in King’s day. Never before in history have people been judged by the content of their character more than by the color of their skin. Our own president is living proof. Our society is much more blind to factors such as race and gender than it was only decades ago. Today, individuals have the freedom to get to where they want to be based on their own merit, as made especially visible in the workplace and the classroom. We are living King’s dream and will continue to do so. “We are free at last.”
— Stephanie Steinbrecher, Carondelet High School (Concord)
It’s easy to say that Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with dreams too big to dream and goals too high to reach. It’s easy to say that his dream will never become reality because segregation will always exist, no matter where you go, no matter how far you go. But when I look around my third period French class, this is not the case at all. I am able to sit next to an African-American girl and a Scottish boy, and there is nothing that interferes with the friendship the three of us share. We are blind to the colors of our skin, but we are open to the thoughts and dreams we each hold. Together, we learn a language different from our native tongues.
King dreamed a dream of equality, and fought peacefully to see the reverie achieved. More than four decades later, racism still lurks in our cities and towns, but only because we believe equality is impossible. But now it is time for us to make King’s sweet dream an even sweeter reality with his blueprint for addressing racism in a nonviolent way. King’s dream will become reality, one day. You just wait.
— Kelsey Wong, Irvington High School (Fremont)
Dr. King dreamed of a peaceful world where all people are loved and accepted; it’s easy to see we aren’t there yet. Some may argue that the civil rights movement ended in the 1980s, but they’re wrong. It’s happening now. Just the other day, I read an article about math problems in Georgia that revolved around slaves. Additionally, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community still hasn’t been accepted by a large portion of our society. The controversy surrounding Proposition 8 continues to divide our state. This is our time to make a difference. The next steps we take will be challenging but well worth it. Small steps — such as establishing safer communities, educating ourselves on other’s point of view or even exposing young children to diversity — will make a difference in our communities and, in turn, our country. Already we’re making strides toward more equality. Most of all, by spreading King’s message of peace, love and acceptance we can make a difference, and we will.
— Brenda McIntire, Las Lomas High School (Walnut Creek)
The goal or idea for this world to eliminate discrimination is in an even larger scope than world peace. Both require all people to settle their differences over histories of oppression, eliminate territorial disputes, find one single ideology in terms of lifestyle and beliefs, establish no difference between themselves and others and, most importantly, be happy with their own lives. Essentially, every aspect of a utopian society would have to be fulfilled on a global scale in order to end discrimination. The oddity of it all is that the end of discrimination isn’t used as much in hyperbola as world peace. Strides can be made (and have been made) toward lessening prejudice in overt and covert forms, but it would take a massive shift in the modern world to achieve the full scope of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.
— Daniel Wetherell, Athenian School (Danville)
Will we ever reach true equality between races? As much of an optimist that I am, I don’t think racism will ever disappear. Ubiquitous racial tolerance is impossible. Having said that, I think society on the whole will become more race-friendly. Even now, more opportunities for minorities — not just African-Americans — are opening up, such as unique scholarships and awards. The more children are taught about the value of character over skin color, the less they will judge people based on the latter. I see this happening in schools and communities. We also currently have a black president, voted for by millions of Americans. Almost 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s revolutionizing speech, his dream is becoming a reality.
— Marisa Chow, home-schooled
I hear about 10 race jokes a week, aimed at almost every race we have at our school. We teenagers are great at using every slur and stereotype, and making a joke of them. And even though that may sound like a terrible atmosphere to be in, it isn’t. I honestly think this attitude shows progress and hope in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. The comfort we feel with a multicultural society is apparent in the fact that we can joke about topics that once were synonymous to death. When we are laughing at stereotypes, we are ridiculing them and showing we don’t subscribe to them. Don’t get me wrong — there are lines that should not be crossed, and sometimes are, showing we have a long road ahead. But I laugh at jokes about Indians that smell like curry, not offended because I know people don’t see me that way. Laughter is the best medicine, and if we can laugh about it, we can move past it, and we can one day soon, not care about the old topic of race at all. Though this may not have been King’s ideal progress, I think that through laughter and ease with race, our generation can one day prove his dream of a place where “children will be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character” to be a reality.
— Shalaka Gole, California High School (San Ramon)
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that one day, one’s race would not matter and we would all be treated as equals. Unfortunately, almost 50 years later, that dream still hasn’t come true. In my psychology class this year, we learned that racism is inherent. It is an instinct that comes from our primitive days, when people who looked different from the people we lived with were likely to attack us. These days, that instinct is no longer relevant, so we learn at a young age from our parents and other adults that racism is wrong. The problem is, not everybody learns that as a child, and to learn something as an adult is much more difficult. The only way for King’s dream to come true is if the people of the world become more open to learning new things and stop fearing change. At some point in our lives, many of us close our minds and no longer are willing to learn. But the idea that different is bad has to go. Humans typically fear change, but only when we can all be open to new ideas will King’s dream become a reality.
— Sara Chavez, Clayton Valley High School (Concord)
I believe Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial equality is possible, but tensions do exist. They exist because of many factors, including economic pressures. When different types of people apply for the same jobs or spots in school, there’s a level of competition that can quickly escalate. Ultimately, King’s dream to have equal education regardless of race is difficult to realize because public schools today are facing many severe budget cuts. In order for racial equality to be achieved, we need to change the way television and pop culture portray people of different races. Many of the stereotypes are inaccurate and spread misinformation about different cultures. We also need the people on TV and in Congress to represent the people they serve, especially in terms of complexion. We cannot be racially equal in society if there is still an educational and economic disparity between races.
— Kim Mejia-Cuellar, Media Academy (Oakland)
The week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day when I was in second grade, my teacher gave me and my class a picture of the man himself to color. After some searching, I found the perfect shade of brown to color in his face with, but I decided to color in his suit first. When I was ready to color in his face, I couldn’t find the colored pencil I had set aside. I ended up having to use this horrendous orange-brown color that looked more like Snooki then natural skin color. It upset me so much that his face wasn’t the right color. Looking back now, I realize the fact that I was more upset that I didn’t color his face the right shade than the fact that I had to color him in at all is a positive confirmation that children are growing up during a time when a person’s skin color doesn’t matter as much. If every generation is raised caring a little less about different skin colors, then I believe that King’s dream of a colorblind society can become a reality.
— Sara Zollner, Castro Valley High School
I can remember watching the election of Barack Obama while I was a high school freshman. I did not think it was a big deal. Not because I didn’t like him as a candidate and not because I thought the election of the next president of the United States of America was not an important decision. But, I remember watching Oprah crying on TV and my dad staring at the screen talking about how big this is. To them, it was inspirational that we live in a society where an African-American candidate can be elected to hold the nation’s highest office. Now, Obama’s election is not the only indication that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has manifested itself in the 21st century. There have been so many changes from what King spoke about in his speech that it is impossible to see the staggering amount of social progress that has been made.
— Beilul Naizghi, Hercules High School
Will Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream even become a reality?
Two score and nine years ago, King had a dream. Today, that dream has nearly come true. No longer is “the Negro sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and chains of discrimination.” Now, segregation and discrimination are illegal. Racism is no longer tolerated by the vast majority of people. Instead, since King’s death, there have been multiple Supreme Court cases regarding desegregation and affirmative action to ensure fair treatment of all races. In recent years, the United States has even seen its first African-American president. Needless to say, we are well on our way to complete equalization. While it is unlikely that racism will ever be entirely extinguished, surely King would be proud to see where things are now. The way people thought about civil rights changed because of this man’s revolutionary dream, and they will only become more pervasive as time goes on.
— Andy Ball, Alsion Montessori (Fremont)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a beacon for hope and dreams to many African-Americans during the civil rights movements. He was respected throughout the world for his heroic efforts to end racial discrimination. When his death came too early, an entire nation was moved to tears.
I believe that King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is no longer relevant to just racial equality; it has now evolved into a beacon of equality and freedom for everyone. His message has carried through generations and is on its way to becoming reality. The only force keeping King’s message from being completely true is hate. If we love each other and appreciate the beauty of individuality, then we will no longer judge others on the color of their skin, sexual orientation, who they hang out with, where they live and what they wear. We will become the society that King dreamed of for his children, a society that judges others on the content of each other’s character.
— Divya Erram, Benicia High School
On this third Monday in January, we celebrate the birth of a man who changed the course of history forever. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of perseverance, intelligence and conviction. Most of all, he was a man of faith. Despite the trying obstacles he faced, he dared to dream — dream of a world where racism would be a distant memory, a world where people would not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Today, nearly 50 years after his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech, many of King’s dreams have become a reality. People of all races are free to vote, own property, run businesses and, yes, even become president. Despite this monumental progress, our country is still not free from racism. Unfortunately, racial prejudice is deeply ingrained in human nature. The sad fact is that most humans are wary of difference, whether it is of gender, religion or race. Completely ridding the world of racial intolerance would involve more than just social revolution. It would necessitate a significant change in human nature. Hopefully someday, King’s dream of an entirely unprejudiced world will come true, but it will require a fundamental change in the human psyche.
— Kelly Collins, Acalanes High School (Lafayette)
Revolution is practically America’s middle name. So it’s no question that when Martin Luther King Jr. proposed his “dream,” there would be more opposition than not. I have no doubt that, since his passing, King’s wishes have been put into action — President Barack Obama is a clear example of that. However, parts of our country do not reflect such consistency. Despite glimpses of polarity, I still believe that our country can achieve King’s dream. The most resilient message in his speech was his point that Americans have a hunger for progress. That’s why I believe his overall hope for equality is still attainable. We as Americans still possess this drive for success in the many definitions of the word. It is uniquely American. In fact, I believe my innate optimism for this is a clear example; nothing is certain, but if we work toward the hope that it will be one day, perhaps it shall be so.
— Evelyn Minaise, Foothill High School (Pleasanton)
Martin Luther King Jr. longed for a day when all people would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” and while equality is possible, there are still many obstacles to overcome. For the most part, times have changed for the better. Schools and businesses are not allowed to segregate or discriminate against their students/employees based on race. De jure (legal) segregation is gone in America, yet de facto (uncontrolled by law) racism is still available. People still are covertly judged by their race, and some must work harder than others in order to be represented. One politician said that he has to “run twice as fast in order to be considered half as good” simply because he is African-American. Not everyone has privileged access to education, safety or health care, and racial biases and stereotypes still quietly permeate through our society and culture. In order for King’s dream to come true, we need to put his words into practice — judge people not by their appearances but by their actions.
— Alexa Barger, Orinda Academy
In my eyes, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream will never completely be realized. Our history has no doubt seen powerful movements to end racism (especially against African-Americans), but for some reason I feel that “complete equality” is impossible. Everyone who’s taken an American history course in school has no doubt heard of the hardships that African-Americans have endured in the past. But because we are taught about this, we cannot help but develop a mindset that goes something along the lines of “the black community has been under attack for some time now, we should owe them something.” And that is the problem — as long as this period of hardships is taught to new generations, those children will grow up exercising a certain amount of caution about “offending” African-Americans, developing a type of “special treatment” around them without even knowing it. If in the backs of our minds, we believe that African-Americans should be treated more beneficially because of hard times they have fallen on in American history, then other Americans are still not achieving true equality.
— Blake Garnsey, San Ramon Valley High School (Danville)
Many believe that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has come true in present day. But amid microagressions, stereotypes, assumptions and judgments, we have not yet honored the idea that “all men are created equal.” We assert our opinions based on others’ skin color, sexual orientation, mental and physical stability, and countless additional categorizations. Because each person views life differently, it is impossible to get everyone to see the world with the same lens. However, that does not mean that this profound leader’s dream is too idealistic for our current state of society. By engaging in the inconvenient discussions, we must foster an awareness and analysis for every aspect of our behavior. We must learn to think as one, and to exist as one.
— Prianka Misra, Head-Royce School (Oakland)
The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write columns and features for the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune. Reach the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true.” Napoleon Hill
Everyone has dreams. Some are much larger and more complex than others, but they all have value. The dreams that you have are there for a reason: to be realized as a part of fulfilling your life purpose.
I truly believe that it is our one and only purpose for being here, to create amazing experiences for ourselves and others.
Then why do so many people continue to live life by default allowing life to just pass them by without achieving anything they want?
Fear of Failure
Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Well I am not sure it is really that extreme, I do know that it can feel that way. When you are in the middle of that feeling of fear, it can seem that everything you have every tried has failed.
But why do we really feel this way – do we have old beliefs from when we were a child? Do we have some negative people around us that never have anything positive to say? Do we have some past experience that we can’t forget?
Feel the fear and do it anyway
You know when you are standing on the edge of the diving board and you are getting ready to jump, if you take a minute to think about how you are feeling, you might feel some butterflies in your stomach, you might feel a little shaky or sweaty, and you might even have that inner voice chattering at you.
Stand there for a minute and just feel those feelings. Now take a deep breath and jump! You are going to feel the fear that is okay. Now that you jumped and you are flying through the air and you splash down in the clear water. How do you feel? Excited, elated, proud? You set out to jump and you jumped. You were successful!
Now if you take this little example and trade the diving board for a live speech or write a book, can you see how you would work through it?
Making Your Dreams a Reality
You must plan and work toward what you want. Even if you try and fail, keep trying. Your dreams have value. Keep moving toward them.
- Think of what you would be missing out on if you missed this opportunity.
- Make a vision board where you can pin or glue symbols of what you want to see realized.
- Keep a journal of what you’ve done toward realizing your dreams each day or each week.
- Remember to enjoy and respect the present moment, enjoy the journey.
Ask yourself, is this feeling really true? Where is the fear coming from? I like to spend some time in meditation or journaling to really get into where and what? This give time and space for my inner voice to really step through and show me why I am feeling this way.
“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
- Take one small task that will move you forward, concentrate on that task, don’t look past it.
- Have faith, faith that you were able to dream it, so you are able to accomplish it.
- Understand that fear is just your mind’s way of dealing with the uncomfortable, embrace the feeling of uncomfortable.
- Feel the fear, the sweat, the heart palpitations, and just do it; be bold and be audacious.
- Kick fear in the ass and make it cry!
I want to leave you with one last question – if you weren’t afraid, how would you act?
Now that is something to journal about.
I would love to hear about a time when you were afraid and you did it anyway. How did you feel afterward, did it allow a dream to be realized?