Over the last week, I’ve gotten several emails inviting me to MLK events and twice as many “What are you doing for Martin Luther King Jr day? Or my favorite “You know Monday is a day of service, where will you be?” emails. I ignore most of them (sans a few from my darlings), for one simple reason… I Am the Dream.
“America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
My family, my friends, our children are the dream. We battle daily with our love/hate relationship with America, a country that doesn’t always treat us kind. We break barriers in spaces that would rather not see us exist. We wear our cultural pride on our sleeves, despite the hate and judgement we face and we raise our Black children to do the same. We do it despite the message from our country telling us our skin and natural hair isn’t good enough, we aren’t educated and can’t go to the store without being shot. We do it despite our rights being violated and stripped daily, despite the state sanctioned murders of our men, women and children for breathing while black. We Are the Dream
“Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”-Martin Luther King Jr.
In 2016 we watched a large majority of Americans, elect a man that spewed the same hateful, racist propaganda as the Klan, George Wallace and white supremacist before him, and while we may have winced for the moment, we didn’t flinch. In conversations with my 86-year-old Grandmother the message has been the same… We’ve survived worse, keep being the dream.
“In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
Just 16 days into the New Year, we’ve been assaulted by problematic presidential cabinet nominations, normalization of despicable behavior, a county petitioning to celebrate Robert E. Lee and other Americans, not “just” Martin Luther King, as well as the President-elect attacking a civil rights icon, yet we organize, we continue to build and be the dream.
So today, a day slated to celebrate a man who gave his life to make America Great, I ask that you refrain from asking me what I will be doing to serve. I am the hopes and dreams of my ancestors, the shining glory of the freedom riders and I serve every day.