Monday, January 21, 2013

What Today Means To Me

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. What does this day mean to me? A whole lot.

50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of millions and told them about his dream. His dream that one day people would be treated equally. It's still not entirely fulfilled, but we are much closer now than we were 50 years ago. The part of his speech that really stands out to me is this:
"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."

I have two children. My husband is black, and I am white. It was only just recently that we were allowed to mark two races on forms that we fill out. When I filled out my son's birth certificate form, I had to put "other" because they would only let me mark one race. Why do we put so much importance on this, the color of our skin? I know it harkens back to slavery days and what not, but why is it still so important years later. Why do I have a fill out a form and mark that I am Caucasian? Why do I have to mark that my child is black, white, or "other"? My husband has taken to writing in "Christian" as his race, and I have to say that describes me much more than a color or "ethnicity".

We SHOULD be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin. But these color lines are so prevalent in society still. My daughter is in first grade. She told me that one of her friends saw her dad pick her up from school one day and asked her, "Is your mom white?" Kids are asking these questions. Will the day come when they stop asking these questions?

I am thankful to Martin Luther King Jr. We would not be even close to asking these questions if he had not done what he had done 50 years ago. We still have so far to go, but we've come so far. People still look at my husband and I like we're crazy. They still ask questions. He is still denied jobs, I think because he is a black man. I was attacked by a relative of his simply because I am white. Some women still give me mean stares when they see me with my family. Do they wonder why he's with me or why I'm with him? I don't know, but I hope that one day soon, MLK's words will ring true and there will be no more stares, no more questioning looks. No one saying that it will be "tough" for my kids.

I'll leave you with this.
My daughter drew a picture of the family. In her picture, I am the same color as her dad (dark brown). I asked her why. She said, "I didn't have a peach marker." She didn't see that I was the "wrong" color as being a problem. She just colored with the markers given to her. I hope we can do the same and realize our color is the marker God gave to us. Sure, we can't change it. But we can change how we treat others because of their color, judging them on the content of their character, looking underneath the surface to what's really important.

Thank you, Dr. King.