February 22, 2019

I Have a Dream

An event honoring Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place on Jan. 11.

I have a dream that one day soon we will live in a nation where all people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I have a dream that those touting “identity politics” and victimhood will soon understand that both are the exact opposite of everything Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for.

I have a dream that if a teacher forces my son to do a “privilege walk” because his olive skin is two tones lighter than another student, that he will have the courage to cite MLK and say “No.”

I have a dream that the “character” MLK referred to will begin to trend again, that uncivil discourse, hate, lies, and demonization will be seen as undermining good character, that the dignity and moral courage MLK stood for will prevail.

I have a dream that it will be understood once again that taking responsibility for one’s actions is a substantial part of the ‘character’ MLK stood for.

I have a dream that blacks and Jews will rekindle their long-standing bond as two communities forced out of our homelands and into diasporas of persecution, and that people like Linda Sarsour will stop trying to break that bond for the sake of their own agendas.

I have a dream that black leaders will courageously step forward to discuss the Jewish activists who helped to create the civil rights movement and have died fighting for the rights of all people to be treated equally.

I have a dream that black leaders will courageously step forward to renew MLK’s fierce Zionism and love for the state of Israel.

I have a dream that Jewish leaders will courageously step forward to state unequivocally that Jews are not and have never been “white”—that all Jews are Jews of color—and as such our responsibility to erase racism both in our own community and in society at large is even more acute.

I have a dream that blacks and Jews will again work together to stop others from defining who we are, where we came from, and what defines racism against us.

I have a dream that my son will continue to judge people by the content of their characters, not by the color of their skin.

I have a dream that my son will be able to teach his friends who have had the misfortune of being taught to hate that bigotry of any form goes against every moral precept of a just society.

I have a dream that we can again begin to nurture future leaders to be in the stature of MLK: morally unflinching, courageous, decent, honorable, kind.

I have a dream that blacks and Jews will stand together again to fight for every liberal principle that MLK stood for—truth, justice, freedom, equality, and peace.

I have a dream.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.