“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”
It’s easy to forget what today is about. It’s an extra day off from school, it’s a reason to go out Sunday night, it’s a reason to delay your homework just that little bit longer.
But I try every year during MLK weekend to at least reflect a bit how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and actions paved the way for a brighter future for not just African-Americans, but for all ethnic minorities.
My parents both encountered discrimination upon moving to the United States, and impressed upon me the importance of distinguishing myself amongst peers regardless of the situation. You know, the whole “cream rises to the top” ideal. That way, no matter the circumstances, nothing could hold me back from achieving what I set myself out to do except for myself. My father made a success out of himself despite incredible odds, and the knowledge that he earned his success makes him infinitely more admirable as a role model than someone who was handed his money.
As a kid growing up in the 90’s, I experienced less discrimination. Spending time in China, Kansas, San Francisco, Greensboro, and Charlotte, I lived in a variety of settings, including low-income urban apartments to the very nice house I reside in today, which is a testament to my father’s extreme work ethic and never-say-die attitude. And for each child growing up, the school experience must be different. I sort of floated along, neither being the bully or the bullied, but erring on the latter’s side more often than not. In fact, I was never subject to harsh racial discrimination growing up, save a few boneheads here and there who thought a short and plump Chinese kid was prime bullying material.
The positive and negative stereotypical associations with Chinese people remain until today, but I don’t put much hold behind it. If my future actions were dictated by the color of my skin, then I think I’d be in far different shoes than the ones I’m wearing now.
These are all random thoughts, but they are connected by one underlying belief I have. If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, hadn’t done what he had for the civil rights movement, my childhood could have been much different. In fact, the shape of the civil rights movement in the United States would have been different, and that impacts not only African-Americans, but every single minority out there, be it race, gender, creed or religion.
And that goes for FFB as well. In a world that hadn’t felt the presence of Dr. King, would sons of Guatemalan, Spanish, and Chinese immigrants have met at a nationally accredited university? Would we have been afforded the same privileges that we are today? Indeed, we may not have even been equal from birth, must less Fresh From Birth.
Just things to ponder as MLK Weekend wraps up.
Where would you be if Dr. King hadn’t impacted the civil rights movement as he had? Post it in the comments.