Earlier this month I was asked to write about Martin Luther King,Jr. (MLK) and the impact of his legacy. As I thought about what approach I would take, I decided to make this a conversational post. Although topics about race can be daunting, they are conversations we need to have. In my short lifetime, I’ve experienced many challenges as an African-American woman, but I have also seen many positive changes. Several years ago when I was in college, I was “confronted” by a police officer and accused of stealing a classmates’ textbook. It was later discovered, after the book was found, that the classmate had simply misplaced the book. It was my understanding I was the only one questioned and the only African- American in that particular class. No apology for falsely accusing me was ever offered nor was there any acknowledgement of wrong doing rendered. Although this happened to me over 15 years ago, the events of that traumatic day remain with me still.
I share this personal story because sometimes bad things happen to good people. I don’t believe all law enforcement is bad, but this encounter made me more cautious of people I come in contact with. I understand that every situation is different and should be treated as such. I believe that people’s views and reactions to situations are largely based on their personal experiences and those views influenced from their family and friends. The recent events involving Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and Eric Garner and NY police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have reminded us all of the tension that remains regarding race relations and how we as a country need to create more effective solutions.
Now that I am a mom, my hope is that I will be able to instill the right values in my daughter. I pray she makes decisions based on merit and not solely on how someone looks. How do you explain to your child that someone was killed because of how they looked or the color of their skin? Has anyone ever had this conversation? How did your child (ren) respond? How did you respond? As a country, do you think we will ever get to a place where race isn’t an issue?
Will Dr. King’s dream ever fully come true? 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.- Martin Luther King, Jr.
To continue the conversation think about participating in the following activities:
– See the new movie Selma, then get together with a group and talk about it.
– Participate in the National MLK Service Day to create a “Better America”. Let’s continue to have these conversations and hopefully create solutions for a BETTER way of LIFE.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.
** This post was originally written for Military One Click**