Monday, January 16, 2017

Careful...

I want to write about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  But every last person I know has advised me against it.


Careful, careful... CAREFUL.


Why is it when we talk about race, we all walk on eggshells? 


Easy for me to ask, I guess...  I was born white.  I've lived my life as a white woman.  I grew up in the Little Rock School District, which, at that time, was under court-ordered desegregation.  I graduated in 1989, with white friends and black friends.  Today, I work with white friends and black friends, and I consider all of them dear to my heart.  I don't choose to see color.  But I'm sure people see mine. 


And I'm sure they see my children's white skin, too.  At school, when my daughter was younger, she played with a lot of the girls who were "brown."  But she never differentiated.  One of her best friends in the world is brown, a little girl her age who was adopted from Africa by one of my best friends in Seattle, who is white.  She begs to talk to her on the phone, write letters to her, and keeps framed pictures of them on her desk.  She still doesn't differentiate.  I wonder if she will.  One day, she will notice the difference.  I pray I teach her that it doesn't matter.  That, like Dr. King said once, "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."


My 2nd cousin in NYC is Japanese-American married to a black man, and they have a beautiful daughter.  They are one of the most precious, loving couples I know.  Yet I have listened to her talk, listened to her very real fear, watched her upset about where we are in America right now.  And I understand.  Yet I don't understand.  Why is it that we are at war with one another?  "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."


My son and my daughter are growing up now in Little Rock schools, where the heart of so much of it began at Central High School in 1957.  The schools are no longer under court-watch.  But I wonder sometimes if they should still be monitored.  I see things sometimes, and I'm not sharing them here.  But I see things sometimes that don't seem fair.  Is it on me to speak up about that?  I'm not sure.  I do know to start at home, with my own.  With lessons that Dr. King himself urged us to teach. 
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


Maybe we can all start at home.  Do something today to change our state of affairs.  Maybe it's simply the talking about it that matters most.  That we stop feeling awkward about a simple conversation. 


Quit being careful, careful, CAREFUL.  And instead, calmy speak.  Share the lessons.  After all, Dr. King left them for us as his legacy. 


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

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