LatinaLista — In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now famous I Have a Dream speech. It wasn’t just words on paper, but passion in motion. Because of that, those words inspired a generation to see the future differently, fraught with possibilities and potential.
Also in 1963, five short months before Dr. King delivered his historic vision of the future another catalyst for changing a generation’s perception of tomorrow, aired its final show — The Jetsons.
Though the animated show would go on to live in syndication and movies, the Â½ hour cartoon about a family who lived in the 21st century amid technology that was out of this world, excited a generation, and subsequent ones, with dreams of space travel, rocket packs, “homework disks” and all the possibilities limited only by our imaginations.
Fast-forward to 2008, 45 years later, and we see that as a society, we are well on track to fulfill the Jetson’s vision of the future.
Yet, we can’t seem to get two steps ahead without falling five steps behind in fulfilling Dr. King’s hopes.
There are examples everywhere that much of the technology that the Jetsons used are now a part of our everyday lives, to the point that it’s become mundane. From space travel to flashdrives, robots and video telephones, the dreams stirred in 1963 have become today’s reality.
This point is heavily underscored with news of the latest technological achievements reminiscent of the Jetson’s car. The first takes the car-within-a-car concept popularized by the cartoon onto Suzuki’s assembly line sometime into the future.
The second example based on futuristic travel is a car that doesn’t whiz through space but it does dazzle with how it opens its doors. No clunky DeLorean style that pulls up like an awkward bird’s wing. This door disappears.
For now, its makers call it the Disappearing Car Door and like the Jetson’s car, the door seems to fade into the body of the vehicle.
On the technological front, it’s clear we’ve been pretty faithful to the Jetson blueprint.
However, on a day when parades and speeches are invoking the memory of what Dr. King said, there is evidence that though technologically advanced, 21st century America is still mired in the primitivity of hate, prejudice and inequality that spurred Dr. King to pen his infamous speech in the first place.
In public schools throughout the nation, those that are heavily attended by children of color are the ones most in need. They routinely lack: experienced teachers, updated equipment, enough textbooks, and a safe environment. All too often, these campuses are also frequently overcrowded.
In all schools, children of color are disproportionately disciplined/suspended or sent to an alternative campus. And campuses are becoming increasingly segregated.
Racial profiling is still a reality. Parts of towns considered minority enclaves receive the least economic development, and slowest response from city officials when it comes to calls for help or assistance.
In hospitals, a Kaiser Health Disparities Report found evidence published by USA TODAY that it took longer for blacks and Latinos to be seen in emergency rooms than white patients.
And outright acts of hate still exist.
Texas marchers walk to support Latino family victimized by hate crimes.
Yesterday (Sunday, Jan. 20) in Benbrook, Texas , fifty people assembled in a rural, upscale neighborhood to march in support of the neighborhood’s only Latino family who has been targeted by a series of hate crimes.
During the march, the group sang a verse of We Shall Overcome when a neighbor came out and demanded, “What’s the problem? What are you marching for?”
Some of the marchers yelled back, “If you don’t know, then that’s a problem.”
How ironic that it is far easier to solve complex technological problems than what appears to be the core problem at the heart of Dr. King’s unfulfilled vision — a lack of empathy.
If only there had been a cartoon about this to show us the way.