“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
The quote above was on my signature line for every e-mail I sent for a couple of years. I believe it whole-heartedly, and I believe in what Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for; change through peaceful means–namely civil disobedience– rather than violent means.
I know there are people who try to negate everything good that MLK stood for by saying “He was an adulterer, he was a Communist, and he was wrong when it came to his statements on the Vietnam war.” Perhaps he was. In my heart, however, that does not negate all the good that he accomplished.
Because of Martin Luther King and others —Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks as well as thousands who go unnamed–the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed that outlawed segregation in the schools and other public places. The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed a year later.
Martin Luther King fought tirelessly for civil rights and as a result of his and others’ actions, my daughter will never have to worry about segregated theaters, restaurants, or even water fountains. I cannot comprehend living in such a time when the South was so strongly segregated, and thankfully the concept will always be foreign to her as well.
At seven years of age, slavery– and all the other horrific acts that were done to people of African descent in America–is still something about which she is totally naive. I wish I could keep her that way, but sadly I cannot. Slavery and the lack of civil rights for African American people are part of our history. A very ugly part of our history, but very real nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 did not eliminate racism. Racism is very sadly alive and well, and yes I know it goes both ways. I have been discriminated against and looked down upon for having “white” skin by people of color. I have seen frowns or glares change to smiles when my daughter is with me compared to when she is not. I have “white privelege” merely because of the color of my biological ancestors’ skin. I wish it were not so.
I didn’t adopt children of color to make a political statement. Far from it. I adopted my children because a very loving Heavenly Father led me to them and let me know they were meant to be mine to raise during this earth life. I hope in some small way, however, that my multiracial family is a start. A start to show others that the color of our skin truly does not matter. That we are all God’s children and he loves us all equally.
I have had people tell me, “But your daughter isn’t really black.” Oh she isn’t? Well, no her skin is truly brown, not black, but I know what they mean. She doesn’t “act black” in their eyes because she is being raised by a “white” family. However, she will go out into the world on her own someday and those who have never met her will not say, “Oh there’s that girl who was raised in a multiracial family with parents who were white.” They will see her as a person of African descent and make their judgments accordingly depending on whether or not they hold racist attitudes in their hearts. Because of this, I must raise her to be comfortable in her own skin. To feel a sense of unity with those who look like her.
My first priority, however, is to teach her that she is a child of God. That we all belong to a loving Heavenly Father who is there to answer our prayers in times of need and to understand as it says in 1 Samuel 16, that the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream. I dream that my children also “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.”Where my Chinese sons will not be expected to be math whizzes just because of their facial features and skin color. Where they won’t be told that they have to do martial arts as one friend told me “because it is in their genes.” Where my daughter will not be held to a lower standard by school teachers, also because of her facial features and skin color. It is not their skin color that makes them who they are, but the content of their character. As a parent, it is their character which I can do something about. Their skin and facial features I had no part in…those were merely beautiful gifts given by God.