“His vision of America isn’t like our vision of America. That we know,” King said about Obama at an immigration rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to Buzzfeed.It was racist in that he went on to say that President Obama's experience was not "an American experience." But the truth is, he was right in saying that his own "vision of America" is different from Obama's.
As a white person, I can only speak for myself is saying that my experience of America never included:
- having my qualifications for a job questioned until I proved my citizenship
- being racially profiled
- an assumption that I got into college only because of affirmative action
- being called "gangsta" if I got angry
- having to carry my papers with me in case of a traffic stop
- regularly being followed by security in stores
- threatened with my life if my music was too loud in my car
- an assumption that I was a threat because I wore a hoodie
- a demand that I prove I'm in my own home and subsequent arrest for disorderly conduct when I resisted
- getting pulled over by police for "driving while black"
- being stopped and frisked for no reason
I could go on. But perhaps you've gotten the point by now. Those are the kinds of things that are happening to brown/black people in this country. President Obama's vision of America is one where the idea that "all men (and women) are created equal" applies to everyone and those kinds of things don't happen anymore. In that way, his vision of America is very different that Rep. King's - who seems to have no problem with the status quo.
I say all this because it goes to the heart of the challenge we are facing as a country today...who's vision of America will prevail? Does our vision include the experiences of everyone - or only those of white people? The truth is - I don't know what its like to be a person of color in this country because I haven't experienced it. In order to craft a vision that includes everyone, I need to listen to those who have a different experience. That is the only way we'll ever "form a more perfect union."