Most of Dr. King’s speech sometimes feels lost — the words “I have a dream” dominate our collective memory — so allow me to revive, at least, one other sentence from that speech: “In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.”
King’s speech was not merely aspirational, but rooted in a practical truth — that wealth has been intentionally stripped from Black people in America. The repayment of that debt will have to be achieved with equal intention, and even more is owed.
I dream of a coalition of workers and activists — of Fred Hampton marching with Berta Caceres. I dream of Emma Goldman and Malcolm X delivering a speech to a crowd of young people, urging them to fight for dignified work.
I dream that our food nourishes us, that our air does not give us asthma, and that Flint’s tap water is at least clean enough to bathe in.
I dream that wealth-building in places like North Minneapolis is not reduced to a buzzword, but treated as a reality.
Dreaming is not light work. For me, dreaming is a political orientation. Dreaming is also a means of survival, but not a passive survival rooted in silence.
I’m surrounded by people that, through their grimace, survive, but do it to music and the smells from the cookout down the block — people who survive as they dance, write, read and argue. I see that dreaming-to-survive spirit in the mothers and the fathers who, every day, seem to make magic for our kids.
Activism, organizing, and movement-building are what Detroit activist Adrienne Maree Brown would call acts of science fiction. She means this in a good way — that we are dreaming our way into a world that has never existed, into a future that could be.
And, by our will, just might be.