Monday, January 20, 2014

Social Justice| Martin Luther King Day Reflection

"Have We Achieved the Dream?"

Pictured above: Martin Luther King III (on left) and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson (on right)

That was the question asked of Martin Luther King III on the night he visited Sacramento's Indivizible- African American Assembly meeting a few months ago and a question he noted as being asked of him quite often. His answer was, "Absolutely not... we still have our work cut out for us- we still have a long way to go..." 

I've been working on being more intentional about reflecting on the importance of this three-day weekend honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and what it means to me. In the past years I've been so excited to have a day off that I must admit I took the importance of the day for granted. Considered it more as an "awareness day" for those who don't know. That because I am a person of color I got a pass because I "understand the struggle."

There are so many wonderful events, marches, and services to attend around town that I really wanted to actually go to this year. And I chose not to attend. Which really bummed me out because in the midst of being intentional about actively uniting with people who stand for and support equality, I am also learning to rest. And I really need some this weekend. I won't be effective in my job during the week if I don't. It's a tough and sometimes conflicting position to be in. So in my resting time I wanted to still be able to enjoy the celebration of this great man, but from more of a resting place this year. 

So what does MLK Jr. Day mean to me? Am I contributing to achieving the dream?

There is still so much more I want to see happen. I don't consider myself to be an extreme social activist,  and I am only just learning how to put my thoughts regarding social justice into words, but I know what tugs at my heart: Seeing young kids while I drive to work- as little as 5 years old- walking to school. Alone. On a busy street. Thinking about what kind of situation their parents may be going through for them to have to send their kids to school alone and with no supervision to get there. And then the mother of three-sets of twins that I met who was only twenty years old. Had no car. And had to take the bus with three transfers to make it to her appointments. The strong mom of a special needs child who wont take s*** from anybody who breaks down crying in my office because she finally felt heard. I can't say that I have all the answers. But I know what tugs at my heart. So I listen. And I ask how I can help. I don't have a formula. Or a lot of money. I don't own a non-profit. But I have a heart. And I have compassion.

I've struggled so much with the guilt of not having some eloquent strategy for achieving the dream. I have felt sooo bad having a public health graduate degree and not participating in the ranks of politics, public policy, social entrepreneurship, etc etc. And I need to stop that. And be more present with the "little but not insignificant" things around me. Like having a conversation with a struggling family at the gas station. Or the lady in front of Chipotle. What I know is that I love to engage and see people smile- and empowered after an affirmation I offer. I have the tools. And I have a wonderful job in which I'm grateful that I can speak life into people everyday- I do not want to devalue or downplay that position I have. I know my tools will be sharpened in this phase of my life for something to come down the road. That's the thing with entering the workplace after graduation: the dreams you have for yourself while going through school and the legacy of the ones of others to which you also aspire to join do not just come into fruition overnight. I look forward to finding my way on the path to my dreams and the furtherance of my community.

As Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke, "Being for your community does not mean that you are anti-other communities. It's just simply acknowledging that nobody else is going to take responsibility for our community unless we do." 

 I firmly believe that change and dreams can only begin when one is fully empowered and fully realized in their identity.

The Butler

I watched this movie today which could not have been any more fitting for my desire to spend time in reflection of what today means to me. For one, I am again grateful for my education.
2. I am grateful that I have a job- which is full and rich with so many different cultures
3. I am so happy for the redemption that our President gives to the black community for the past pains suffered.

But I am not satisfied with the way black men are still treated today. I am disappointed that many still walk in fear.

I loved watching this episode of Raising Whitley. I just happened to stumble upon it one evening and I couldn't help but watch. I was brought to tears during the scene pictured below. This mother adopted her son after a teen mother signed him over to her- and without any warning or agreement. But Kym took Joshua in as her own. This whole village of adults took him in as their own. It was so powerful to see all of them there so eager to show their lifelong dedication to seeing that Joshua be loved, provided for, and succeed- being fully realized as a being full of all the potential in the world.  

At the end of the ceremony, Joshua was raised above all of the friends and family like a rockstar at a concert thrown into a mosh pit. That's the kind of love I have for the youth and the kind I aspire to unite with others in showing to the youth of today every chance I get.

Photo Courtesy of 

Photo Courtesy of

So what tugs at your heart? What is your version of achieving the dream?

xoxo Mary 

No comments:

Post a Comment