I did not want to write this article at all.
It is 3:30 a.m. and the words and emotions are at war with one another.
My great-grandfather was a slave on a plantation in Mississippi. The stories about his life were passed down through the art of oral tradition. I remember living in the South where they had bathrooms for colored people and negroes, and bathrooms for white people. I never could understand why, but I knew not to ask, so I didn’t.
It is 2008, and watching Barack Obama gain the acceptance as the presidential nominee for the Democratic party filled my heart with a great deal of pride — and then the tears came.
However, these tears didn’t start because of that eventful moment. These tears came from deep in my soul because I remember mourning the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, who were both killed by hatred. These tears, the ones from deep within my soul, I could not turn off. I so wanted to, but the harder I tried, the more I wept.
I asked myself why. Because I remember four little black girls who were killed by a bomb planted at a church in Birmingham, Ala. I remember growing up hating myself because of the color of my skin, and secretly wanting to be white because they had everything. They had the white knight who would come and save everyone. Even the angels were white, except mine.
I remember the sacrifices of whites and blacks, and of my friends who were killed by racism. I remember to this day being pulled over by the police, and their excuse was that I looked like the robbery suspect — when we both knew it was a lie. Only during the 1960s and 1970s did I stop hating the color of my skin. I started accepting myself truly as a child of God born in his image and likeness.
I began to wonder, what would Martin Luther King think now? Have we reached the mountaintop? The answer is no.
When we have 70 percent of black children born out of wedlock, that is a tragedy. When you have more black men in prison than in college, where’s the outrage? Is there racial profiling in King County? I have personally experienced it, and each time it does something to me as a person — if I let it. But I don’t give it the power to diminish my humanity.
I have the same equal rights as any white person, but I also have equal responsibility to carry the legacy of those who went “home” far too soon.
I choose to write about education knowing I will be criticized.
Everything I have written was motivated by love and nothing else. I am no expert, just a father who cares deeply about the world we live in.
I work with kids a lot, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them, especially the ones who have no one that cares. I realize that with my criticism, I would never be invited to speak at an MLK celebration. As a matter of fact, I was once dis-invited. If that’s the price for telling the truth, so be it.
I ride the bus, where I hear both black and white kids use the “N word” like it means nothing. To me, it represents the most evil word in the English language. I get angry, but I don’t say anything. They will find out soon enough.
I am emotionally drained because I have given you more about me than I wanted to. So I will leave you with a quote from Dr. King: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I firmly believe that the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”