January 26, 2016

Published on: January 25, 2017

Dear Editor,

Vision. Something that one imagines, hopes, or dreams.  On August 28, 1963, the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared a vision: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  This is such a simple — yet extraordinary and powerful vision.

Dr. King dedicated his life to racial equality. He fought to make the world a better place to live in for all races. He fought for social change, social justice and social good. Dr. King imagined a world beyond race—a world that looked beyond a person’s skin color. Yet, in the blink of an eye, one person can make a quick judgment about someone based on her race.

At approximately 5:15 a.m., I was working in my yard in Sun City Center. At that time in the morning, one can imagine that it is very dark. Therefore, I had a headlight around my head. While I was applying mulch in my garden, I noticed a vehicle approaching my home. The person sat for a few minutes staring my way and then put his or her vehicle in reverse out of my view. I thought maybe it was someone lost and continued to work in my yard. Five minutes later, a police officer pulled his vehicle up across the street and shined his bright light in my face to ask me, “Do you live here?”

“Yes, I live here.”

I am a black female and a retired military veteran of 23 years. None of that mattered in those few minutes of being judged. Dr. King’s vision of a color-blind society has remained elusive. While race should not matter, it matters because many use it to stereotype a race based off of assumptions and biased conclusions.

What do you see when you see my skin color?

Sharon D. Clayton