Happy MLK Day Y’all.
Martin Luther King, Jr is an American icon that I’ve known about since an early age. My parents made sure that my brother and I understood the history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and how Dr. King was a crucial part of making that renowned. Inherently, this began to build a foundation for me and how I viewed the world. I was taught to judge a person by their character and not by their color or creed.
When I first moved from Maryland to Virginia, I had no idea what was in store for me. Although I knew about racism, the South was an entirely different animal once you lived there. I expected discrimination from the white community, but it was a total shock to receive it from another African-American. I was criticized for the way I spoke and dressed and was told that I was trying to “act white”. For years, my individuality was encouraged by my family members; however, in this new place, I wasn’t black enough or labeled an “Uncle Tom”. This hurt me more than when I was told that a white boy (that I liked) didn’t like me because of my skin color. I was okay with the boy not liking me, or even excepting me, but not being excepted by members of my own community was devastating.
I learned not to let the actions of a few define who I was or my dreams. It would’ve been easy to default to the level to which others tried to bully me to, but like Dr King, I took a stand for myself and what I felt was right. If it weren’t for those moments in my youth, I wouldn’t be who I am now.
I’m proud to say that I teach my son the same motto my parents instilled in me. I want him to know that hating someone based on their skin color, social status, sexual orientation, or any other discriminating factor is unacceptable. Hate is a wasteful, negative effort that pulls a person away from positive energy that can motivate them to greater heights.
I want a better, brighter, and more diverse future for my son. I’d like there to be no hate in his future, but the side effects from the 192 years of oppression in America’s history won’t likely let that happen. I just pray that we as human beings will recognize that skin color doesn’t really matter and doesn’t define who we are.
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Resources: For more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr