Title: “The Dream Lives On”
Plot, or Lack Thereof: Gohan learns a “Very Important Lesson” about racisim.
Reason for Banishment: Weak characterization, obvious author bias.
Gohan walked along the quiet streets of Satan City. He knew that now one would see him if he levitated just above the ground and flew, but he was in no hurry to go anywhere; he was thinking about the class which had just ended.
“All right, class! Today we move into the final portion of World War Two: the Holocaust,” the teacher announced when everyone took their seats.
It was the most horrifying lesson that Gohan ever attended: for six hours he heard and saw the terrible things the Nazi’s did to the Jews and other ‘non-Aryans’ during the slaughter later called ‘The Holocaust’. Testimonies of SS officers and concentration camp survivors, official documents and personal correspondences, and picture after picture of the dead and the living dead ran through Gohan’s mind. He left the class in such a daze that Videl, who otherwise didn’t even pay any attention to him, was concerned.
“Are you all right, Gohan?”
“Fine.” Gohan lied.
In reality, he was terribly confused. He could not understand how over six million people were killed as a result of a people’s hatred and ignorance. He could not imagine why they were singled out because of a simple difference in opinion. He could not comprehend why nearly no one spoke up against it, or why so few tried to stop the atrocities.
And, a little closer to home, he was horrified to learn what was done to the Chinese, Koreans, and other Asians during the same war. And to a lesser extent, the severe discrimination even in the United States, the land where ‘all men are created equal’—but perhaps, as George Orwell suggested in his book: ‘some are created more equal then others’.
Maybe it was because he was in such deep thought, or maybe it was fate; but for whatever reason, Gohan wandered into the ‘bad’ side of Satan City.
“Nigger!” Gohan turned his head; not too far away he could hear a brutal beating taking place. He dashed in the direction of the sounds and discovered five men in the middle of kicking, punching, and otherwise beating the crap out of a middle-aged man that looked light-skinned—but perhaps not light-skinned enough for the bigots who were pounding him to a bloody pulp. There were at least fifty or so bystanders, a few of each ethnic group, that surrounded the tormentors. Some were shouting encouragement, others watched; but all stood by and did nothing.
“How do you like that, eh?” Taunted one man, who knocked the victim down when he tried to get up.
Something snapped inside of Gohan; he was not going to allow those bullies to treat that man the way they did. He stepped out of the shadows.
“Leave him alone.” The men stopped, looked at him, and laughed.
“Mind your own business, you stupid slant-eye.” The biggest of the five said to him.
“I said, ‘leave him alone’.” The men laughed again.
“Who’s gonna stop us? You?”
“Get outta here, chink!”
“Vamoose!” The men and their taunts surrounded Gohan at all sides. Some of the bystanders also joined in.
“Don’t make me angry,” Gohan warned.
“Ooh, I’m scared.” the big man jeered. “What are you going to do, use ‘kung fu’ on me?” The man raised his arms in a mock ‘Jackie Chan’ pose. “Hiyaa! Whataah!” The others laughed at the man punched feebly into the air, making ‘kia’ noises with a bad Chinese accent.
“I’m warning you,” Gohan narrowed his eyes. The men stopped laughing. The big man approached Gohan and towered over him.
“All right, enough jokes. You’re ruining our fun, and I don’t like that.” He curled his hand into a fist and swung it it Gohan’s face.
Gohan didn’t even blink.
The man almost screamed as a shockwave of pain ran down his arm; it felt as if he had hit a lead weight.
Gohan took the man’s fist from his face and shoved it away.
The man went flying into a building.
Gohan glared at the others, who had been backing awayy, but turned to run for their lives when they saw him watching.
“Thanks, buddy,” The remaining man (the one who received the beating) tried to get to his feet; Gohan rushed forward to support him.
“Try not to move, sir; you’ve been hurt pretty seriously.” Gohan looked at the bystanders, who were slowly dispersing. “Why didn’t you help?” He demanded. “You could have at least called the police.” There was no response; the people ignored him and moved on. “He might have died!”
“Shut up, dink!” A small dark-skinned child yelled. Someone else shouted something rude in Spanish, setting off more insults in various languages, all of them more or less directed at Gohan’s Japanese features.
Those.jerks! Gohan fought the impulse to throttle those bystanders.
“Never mind them, kid,” The injured man advised. “Just get me to a hospital.”
“Okay,” Gohan lifted himself and the man into the air. “But I’ll need some directions; I’m kind of new around here.”
“I’ll say you are,” The man said after he got over his shock. “Just hang a left here.”
The emergency room of the hospital that Gohan was to was, if their lack of surprise was any indication, accustomed to patients like the man: in a few moments he was whisked away in a cart, bandaged, and placed in a recovery room. Once Gohan filled out the necessary paperwork, he managed to convince the nurses to let him see their patient.
“I can’t thank you enough, my friend.”
“Think nothing of it.” Gohan realized that he had forgotten all of his manners. “And you are?” He prompted.
“Just call me Sam.”
“I’m Gohan,” Sam tried to take Gohan’s outstretched hand, then laughed.
“Oops, I forgot I’m not supposed to do that.”
Gohan quickly retracted his hand. “So did I; sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Gohan examined Sam’s injuries.
“So, why did those men attack you?”
“Beats me.” Sam shrugged, then grinned. “No pun intended.” Gohan forced a smile. “But I heard it was something about one of them getting in a gang fight with man like me and getting knifed. The big one, I think, because he kept talking about getting us ‘niggers’ back for what we did to him.”
“Collectively speaking, that is.” Sam sighed. “We’re all the same to them.”
“The ‘Aryan Race’.” Gohan murmured, remembering the history lesson.
“It’s not just a White problem, Gohan.every group has another group to hate: Blacks, Whites, Hispanic, Asians—” Sam looked at Gohan. “No offense to you, of course.”
“I don’t mind.” Gohan looked away. “What kind of world to we live in, anyway?” He wondered aloud. “Why do people do these things to each other?”
“We humans have this tendency to collect negative emotions inside of us. When these emotions become too much to handle, we want to get rid of it; the most convenient way to do that is to take it out on somebody.” Sam sighed again. “That’s what it all boils down to: everybody trying to find someone else to blame for their own problems, so that they can have an excuse to exercise their frustrations.” He laughed, this time bitterly. “Guess who they picked on this time.” He rubbed a bandage. “It’s a good thing you were there, Gohan.’cause I don’t think I would have been able to live through the rest of what they were planning for me.” Sam leaned back and looked at the ceiling. “What happened to the great vision of Martin Luther King Jr.?” He lamented.
Who? Then Gohan remembered. Oh, that guy.
“Now there was a great man, that Reverend King.” Sam continued. “Believed in human rights and equal treatment of all people.” He closed his eyes, relishing the memories. “I participated in the March on Washington with my mother. I was only a small boy then, but I remember every word.”
I’ve heard that speech before, in class. Gohan thought. At the time, he had been impressed with Dr. King’s oratory skills; now, the meaning of his words came to him.
“I have a dream.” Sam began, imitating the preacher-like voice of Dr. King. “That one day, this nation will rise and live out the true meaning of its creed.”
“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’.” Gohan chimed in. Sam opened his eyes in surpise.
“You know that speech, too?”
Gohan grinned. “I memorized it for extra credit.”
“They should give you a Nobel Prize for that, Gohan.” Sam beamed. “Let’s go on; now where were we? Oh, yes.”
“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. I have a dream today!”
“Ahh.” Sam relaxed. “I feel better already.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Son?” The nurse poked her head into the room. “I’m sorry, but you have to leave now.”
“Must he?” Sam gave the nurse a pleading look.
“Yes,” the nurse replied, unmoved. Gohan stood up and slung his bookbag over his shoulder.
“I guess I’ll see you another day, then.”
“Don’t count on it, Gohan; I don’t like staying in hospitals, and I’m getting out of here as soon as they’ll let me.”
“Oh.” Gohan was disappointed. “But it was a pleasure meeting you, Sam.”
“Same here.” Sam smiled. “Maybe next time, we can meet under more pleasant circumstances, eh?” Gohan returned the smile, then caught himself trying to shake hands with Sam again. “Ah, ah, ah.” Sam chided. “Musn’t do that, now.” Gohan waved one last goodbye as he left the room.
It wasn’t until after Gohan got home that he remembered Dr. King had died before he could realize his dream. He felt sad for a while, until he remembered something else his teacher had said:
“But Dr. King’s spirit lives on in the hearts of those who strive to reach the goals that he had set. And he will live on in you, when you take a stand for what’s right.