That's the conversation I had with a source while working on a story about the recently erected Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C.
Having marched with King and lived during the time of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, the source is more than entitled to her opinion on the subject, as are others.
But her response as well as comments I’ve heard since the news of the memorial’s erection , have led me to ponder what the parameters are by which people judge how far we as a human race have come toward the goal of racial equality.
According to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll on race relations, nearly everyone — 90% of whites and 85% of blacks — says civil rights for blacks have improved in the USA during their lifetime, although whites are more likely to see the progress as far-reaching.
A little more than half say King's dream has been fulfilled, while an additional one in four of those surveyed say major progress has been made toward it, according to the poll.
Still, there was a notable rift between white and black opinions on some questions.
Although nearly eight in 10 whites said blacks have an equal chance in their community to get any kind of job for which they are qualified, six in 10 African Americans said job discrimination persists.
Also six in 10 blacks said the government should take a major role in trying to improve the social and economic position of blacks and other minority groups, while just one in five whites agreed to this.
The poll also addresses the popular argument that the election of President Barack Obama, America’s first black president, signifies that we have reached the mountaintop in terms of racial equality.
The day after his election in November 2008, a record 67 percent of Americans predicted the problem of race relations eventually would be worked out in the USA.
Now, 44 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks say race relations will always be a problem..
Some argue the existence of racism and unequal attitudes can be still be measured in today's advertising.
A recent controversial ad by Nivea was pulled after it created a fuss by pushing the message to black people of the need to "re-civilize" themselves.
Do you think blacks continue to operate on a lower playing field than whites?
If so, what can be done to rectify this?
To some, the answer is more social programs, affirmative action and even reparations.
To others, the opinion is the Civil Rights Movement really ended in 1968 so there is nothing else that can or should be done to foster “equality”.
How would you answer this question?
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