An MLK Day Thought

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Greetings. Frank from Beach Walk Reflections here. Thank you, Marc for accepting this post.

Today is MLK Day – the commemorating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr – the day to celebrate and reflect upon civil rights – the day that I unfortunately also ponder racism. A news story made me think today, then I wrote.

I think about growing up during the 1960s – spending my youth in a small town in rural southeastern Ohio that is considered as a part of Appalachia. Growing up in a place never knowing why many Blacks lived in another section of town – a dirt road up a hill – seemingly out of the way.

After consolidating with other small schools in our area, I came to know and respect a classmate. What a great guy – and I still think highly of him! Not long ago, he told something important. I never knew his father took him to get a haircut in a town 15 miles away. More importantly, I never knew why. He just thought it was the way it was. He gave me more examples as we talked, and I shook my head at the societal shame.

I think back at seeing the news of the race riots in the late 1960s, but not understanding. I think back to the March on Washington and Dr. King’s famous I Have a Dream speech, but not understand. I sadly proclaim my ignorance. But today, I am also thinking about people I know. People that are close to me in some way.

People who refer to Blacks as goons. People who think wearing a black face is funny. People who in discussions include an unnecessary fact of someone is Black.

People who believe Martin Luther King, Jr. was a communist. People who say they celebrate the day gathered around a Kingmus Tree. People who say their town doesn’t need to celebrate the day because no Blacks live in their town.

People who fear and hate people named Obama. People who fail to see racial injustice. People who hang their hats on Critical Race Theory while not knowing what it is. People who don’t even try to understand the events such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.

Three people fail to reflect. Three people who resist learning. Three people who are unwilling to admit that they were wrong then and still wrong now. Three people in my circle who I consider to be the most racist people I know. Three people who cause me to hang my head in shame. Three people who show me what not to say – what not to do. And how many more people are like these three? I still have faults, but at least I’m trying.

This is the video essay sparking my thoughts …

… and a song for the day. If you prefer Alicia Keys, click here.

And Martin Wept

This is where Heroes comes to play. Every Friday but for this one.

I tried to put a compilation together, I really did. And its not like there aren’t plenty of heroes to be had. Because there are always the good places in this world, and the good people who make them so. It’s what makes heroism such a special thing, the fact that it never asks for attention. And so Heroes is one of the many places in the online world where they are brought to light, so that we may see the best in all of us.

Only this week, I ain’t feeling it. That whole best in all of us business is what I’m talking about. I realize I could have mustered a favorite five from the online hive and culled honey out of the hopelessness that seems stuck to this latest bad news week in a year that’s given us far too many of them already. But it seemed absurd to run an exclamatory banner heralding heroes. And the idea of planting a superhero’s image in my prelude ran counter to the images we’ve all seen. And figuring out a song with which to cap things off? No. None of it felt right, not after a couple weeks worth of reminders that race is still a chasm and discord its relentless weed.

So this post is just me, catching my breath and trying to shake this feeling that things will never change. Even if I have been feeling that way ever since a cop pinned George Floyd to the ground for the last nine minutes of his life. And then everything that has come of it, happened. Again. And now it feels like that speech that Martin Luther King gave on the National Mall almost fifty seven years ago was some ancient psalm. As if the world has forgotten its most erstwhile minister.

And I’m so angry and sad and confused, because Mr King deserved so much more than this. Because we are the progeny he was talking about in that iconic speech of his, where black and white constructed a much more profitable conclusion that involved not some of us, but all of us.

The Us hasn’t happened. And neither could this Heroes post, because there’s a time to celebrate and then there are times such as these. When I call upon a holy spirit and I provide him with the humblest remark I can summon for a world that still hasn’t figured this whole thing out.

I’m sorry.