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I Am the Dream

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EthicsDaily spent the week in Little Rock, Arkansas, filming a promotional video for Arkansas Baptist College.

The historically black college was founded in 1884 as the Minister’s Institute by the Colored Baptists of Arkansas.

The primary objective was to train ministers for local black Baptist churches, but the secondary vision was to make higher education available to young black men and women.

As EthicsDaily.com Media Producer Cliff Vaughn and I met with President Regina Favors, staff, faculty and students, we quickly discovered the significance and importance of this unique and brilliant college.

From the athletic programs to students studying in the library, a spirit of pride and resolve echoed across campus.

More than once, we heard students and faculty talk about the significance of community and a desire to follow a dream.

Walking around campus and interacting with students, we noticed a reoccurring T-shirt worn by students with the words, “I Am the Dream,” stamped across the front.

Seeing these amazing young black men and women wearing these words proudly was extremely powerful.

The phrase refers to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in which he dreamed of a day when black children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

At Arkansas Baptist College, students are leaning into King’s dream by working hard and aspiring for a future that will welcome them as equals and peers.

While Arkansas Baptist College works tirelessly at empowering the next generation of young black leaders, the reality persists that the world they enter will not welcome them as equals nor will it treat them as peers.

According to Harvard Business Review, hiring discrimination against black applicants has remained consistent for 25 years.

Additional discrimination arises within the workplace. When black applicants are hired, they will earn 73% of what a white male will earn based upon an hourly rate.

More than 1 million workplace discrimination cases have been filed by employees with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010, with 309,201 of these being related to claims of racial discrimination.

Statistics like these should cause Christians to cringe. As a people striving for God’s justice in this world, such discriminatory practices must be called by their true name: white supremacy.

White supremacy empowers white people with personal and systemic advantages over other races.

I am not calling all white people racists, but I am suggesting we need to admit that all white people have benefited from the color of their skin.

As I think about the bright and brilliant students of Arkansas Baptist College wearing the “I Am the Dream” shirts, I am inspired to dream along with them.

We need to dream of a day when the workplace is an equal opportunity environment that values and rewards content and character.

As people of faith, we need to fight for the day when there is “no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or free, no longer male or female” and no longer any forms of discrimination based upon a person’s racial identity (Galatians 3:28). Every person has value and worth (see Matthew 6:26 and 10:3).

Visiting with students this week, I was reminded that every one of God’s creatures deserves an opportunity to dream and achieve.

As a follower of Jesus benefiting from my status as a white male in this world, I feel I have a responsibility to use my privilege to level the playing field and empower others to excel.

I hope to keep up with the students and faculty at Arkansas Baptist College through the work of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas and Ray Higgins, CBF Arkansas’ executive coordinator.

If you would like to contribute to this incredible college and empower the next generation of black leaders, consider offering them your support.

Mitch Randall

Mitch Randall is executive director of EthicsDaily.com.