I believe the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are as important today as in the past. I also believe hateful words are still present. They may not be said, but thought. I see them in people’s eyes.
Today I talked to my four year old sons at breakfast. We are not in school today. Today we celebrate the life of Dr. King. My one son, Timmy, tells me, “Daddy, today we celebrate King. A bad man shot him, he died.” My sons are interested in death because a fish died at their preschool. Timmy tells me he is happy they buried the fish, because “the tank was stinky!”. I do my best to explain to my sons why we have today off of school.
I try to remember some of the things that Dr. King said and did in his life and only one thing resonates in my head. I tell my sons, “Boys, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he had a dream. We are his dream. If it was not for Dr. King and people like him, we would not be a family.”, after thinking for a minute, I said “ Dr. King believed that little white boys and little black boys could play together some day. He helped make you two brothers.” I feel this is good enough for them, any more and I will have to go into some things that I don’t want them to hear about. Not yet. They are only four years old.
When my wife and I go out with our younger son, Andrew, we sometimes joke and remind ourselves that we are a just a “white” family today. My son Timmy is multiracial and transracially adopted. When we go out, people know in a moment that my wife and I did not have Timmy the “normal” way. While in the adoption process, we found out we were pregnant with our second son, Andrew. Our sons are eight months apart. Being the parent of a child from a different race has some challenges. From hair care to skin care, everything was different. Fortunately, our adoption agency had classes.
At the age of 6 months we noticed our younger son Andrew didn’t have eye contact with us. We found out Andrew is blind. Legally blind, he can see light, but no colors and in sunlight, nothing. He is aided by transitional lenses and “coke bottle” glasses. When we are out, most people comment on Andrew’s cute sunglasses. If we state they are real, we get asked if he can be “fixed”. There is no procedure and he is fine the way he is. We recently introduced his cane. No more comments, just stares. People tripping over themselves to get out of our way. We call it, “parting of the blind seas”.
What does this have to do with what I believe? At the mall, I walk a few steps behind my family to see people’s reactions. Some are nice and some are downright awful. Some days, the staring gets to me and if someone says something stupid, I lash out at them. I try to remember they are trying. Aren’t we all? I believe there is good in the world, in the dreams of Dr. King and in my sons. I know that they will help make the world a better place.
I wrote this for a doctoral class. I have revised it several times and wondered if I should submit it. I think I will because I told a student today something still with me. “If not me, then who?”
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