I am not black and cannot imagine what it feels like to experience the dark side of discrimination. I don’t understand what it feels like, but I do believe we need to get past discrimination – of any kind. I yearn for the day when we can agree or disagree on something, and that something has nothing to do with the color of anyone’s skin.
I will never forget the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died, a day that has affected the rest of my life. I remember the shame of a young classmate expressing prejudice, and I knew instinctively that prejudice was wrong. I was very young – only 8 – when he died, but I still recall that next April morning, walking to grade school in the bright sunlight. The brightness of the sun was in stark contract to the dark emptiness I felt for Dr. King’s death and the hatred that caused it.
I look back now thinking of that sunshine, the feelings of sadness and gloom having faded all these years. How appropriate that the sun was so intense that morning! Dr. King was a ray of sunshine in a dark world that desperately needed some light.
I am thankful today that we have gotten past the open turmoil of those days, but the undercurrents still persist. We still need to find that peace and harmony that Dr. King envisioned. There are many factors that keep the undercurrent going, and I am afraid that some of them are in the black community, itself. We need to stop picking at the scab and let it heal… but that is easy for me to say.
Let me quickly say that I do not blame the black community. I can not pretend that I would not be inclined to react to centuries of institutional slavery and many, many decades of cultural and endemic discrimination that persisted far beyond the laws aimed to abolish it – even into my lifetime – even in pockets of insidious persistence in this 21st Century. Yet the inclinations and tendencies of the human response, in all of its imperfection, must yield to a response prompted by a higher vision, by the Creator of all men, if we are to ever get past discrimination.
Dr. King’s vision is ever alive, like the radiant sunshine transcending his death. That dream has not died, and we cannot let it die.