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The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

OPINION | Is a dream deferred a dream denied? My truth as an African American

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“I am fighting, hiding, lying and thriving.” This is what I said to my friend two days ago. 

Today, Aug. 28, marks the 60th anniversary of the renowned March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s celebrated speech, “I Have a Dream.” It was a monumental moment in history and is even more important to me because it is directly related to African American history. The actions taken during the 1960s by civil rights activists are just one of the many reasons I am in the position I am in today. 

And yet, to say the world looks completely different than it did sixty years ago is a complete and total lie. Yes, a lot has changed for the better; however, there is still so much work to be done to achieve Dr. King’s dream of racial equality. And, as poet Langston Hughes highlighted in his poem “Harlem,” a dream deferred is a dream denied. We haven’t made it to the promised land yet, and as a result, my daily reality as a Black woman is rarely an easy one.

I am continuously fighting. I am fighting against stereotypes and people looking at me warily when I walk through the door. I fight to correct people when they say something wrong about Black culture. 

I am hiding. I am hiding so that I don’t have to face the gazes, accusations or rudeness of those who are ignorant, or at best, passive and ill-informed. I don’t tell my stories because it feels like no one will understand. 

It’s hard to understand what it feels like to see someone similar to you in chains attached to a ship. Or, what it feels like to be a 13 year old in a classroom with all white people watching a video using racial slurs toward Black people. Nor do people know what it feels like to be called dirty in kindergarten because your skin is brown. 

That’s the reality I have faced my entire life and will continue to face in America. Those are my stories. And most people who look like me have similar lived experiences. 

I’m lying. This is potentially what I do the most: lie. I am lying when I say I’m okay, when really I sometimes feel alone in my Blackness. I feel alone all those times I am the only Black girl – or Black person, period – in a classroom. I lie to myself when I feel isolated by other Black people because they consider me white-washed; I lie and say it doesn’t hurt. 

When I say I don’t notice the color of others’ skin, I’m lying too. Neither the world nor I can or should be colorblind, because in reality, people are able to disregard signs of ongoing discrimination because of the refusal to publicly acknowledge race.

But, above all, I am thriving. I am thriving as a Black woman who’s seeking education, striving for excellence, achieving her goals and smiling through any pain she experiences. And I thrive when I see my fellow African Americans doing the same thing. 

Some may just see the improvements in the state of race in America and not notice the still-existing damage that requires repair. What still needs to change?

The most pressing issue is outright violence against Black people. Just two days ago in Jacksonville, Florida, there was a racially motivated mass shooting that left three people dead. Those people were shopping in a store and died because they were Black. 

The shooter was in his 20s. He didn’t experience the Civil War or Jim Crow laws. He harbored an unbelievable, unreasonable hatred toward Black people and decided to target them.

If I had been in Florida and in that store, I could have been dead. That could have been my father, mother or brother. That’s the reality of being Black. 

If people don’t learn from history, then they will repeat it. Florida is trying to erase my history, African Americans’ history, by claiming it is uncomfortable to talk about. They want to ignore the past and ignore the presence of violence and hatred in the present. 

Even worse, in our country of brutal discrimination, some turn right back around and copy African American culture. Slaves were punished for practicing customs from their homelands. Black people were segregated from everything white people did and had because they were considered severely inferior. So, why copy our hairstyles, dance moves, religion, songs, etc. now? Why is Black culture en vogue when someone like Kim Kardashian appropriates it, but a problem when a Black person does the same thing?

So, what has truly changed in the past sixty years? 

Our history is a grim one. But entangled in it are community, unity, love, faith and strength. That is something that will not be hidden, forgotten or stolen. 

I have come to the realization that my skin is beautiful. It stands out when I enter rooms that I was never originally supposed to enter. It brings attention to my story and my history; it makes me who I am. 

My Black is beautiful.

Although the Civil Rights Movement happened 60 years ago, people are still healing from the generational scars injustice left. Some still have fresh wounds.

How many African Americans have been murdered without justifiable cause, discriminated against or held to a stereotype? 

Compare those numbers to African Americans who are successful or influential because of their positions or titles in the world. The numbers are outrageously unproportional and often overlap each other.  

Dr. King’s dream has not fully been reached. His dream is becoming a reality, but slower than any Black person may have expected and especially hoped for.

Sixty years later, the fight looks different, but we are still fighting. I am still my ancestors’ wildest dream. 

I am an African American. I am fighting, hiding, and lying. But, above all else, I am now and forever will be thriving.

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About the Contributor
Samantha Sims
Samantha Sims, Managing Editor
Samantha Sims is a communication major with a concentration in strategic communication. She is from Gretna and joined The Lion’s Roar staff in Sept. 2022. She loves to execute her passions for photography, writing, reading and connecting with others by working at Student Publications. She was recently promoted to campus & community editor. You can usually catch her anywhere on campus, so don’t hesitate to say hi!
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  • L

    L. SimsSep 1, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    My beautiful, intelligent, black daughter, you have always and continue to make me proud of you. Article well written, continue daughter to embrace and appreciate who you are and speak your truth as you know it. Thriving, yes, you are, and will continue to thrive, soar and do great things with much success.

    So a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

  • C

    Charlene M NixonAug 31, 2023 at 8:33 am

    I love this write-up, it is very true, we will forever be thriving to be one in this place we call America. As it is well said, if we don’t learn our history, we are doomed to repeat it.