Today is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Every year this day rolls around and for years I never really though anything of it except, "Yay! No School!" However in college, I truly began to understand why we have this day off.
I became a RA at App my Junior year. I learned more about diversity and adversity more in those two years than I'd ever learned in my life. I learned how racism, sexism, and homophobia are alive and well in the United States and that we are all affected by them no matter how much we try to deny their existence. I learned that cruel words can instill fear and that the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," is one of the greatest lies we've ever been taught. I also learned that we should use the MLK holiday to do good for others. I participated in the MLK challenge in college, in which you spend the whole MLK Holiday doing community service work. Sacrificing your day off for those that are less fortunate. I think Dr. King would've wanted it that way.
This year I am unable to spend today during community service work. Partially, because I have a 15 month old with double ear infections and, partially, because the holiday snuck up on me this year. So, I've been doing a lot of reflecting today on what I've witnessed and what I believe about freedom.
I've never seen racism so vile as when Bryan and I lived in South Carolina. In both jobs I had during our years there, I was confronted with blatant racism. First, was at a local ad agency. The first year I worked there, I noticed that the MLK Holiday was not on the list for paid days off. When I asked my boss why, his response was, "We (referring to he and his family) don't celebrate Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate Robert E. Lee day." I was so shocked I didn't know what to say. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I simply said, "Well, it would be nice to have that day off to do good for others. To volunteer." Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But, I hope my response stung a little.
A couple years went by and I became a teacher in Pelion, SC. For those of you who don't know, Pelion was once the headquarters of the KKK. Upon learning this, I knew it would be important to include studies on Black History, Civil Rights, etc. into my classroom. My first year, for the week of the MLK Holiday, I required my students to memorize short excerpts of the "I Have A Dream" speech in which they'd recite and I'd record to show over the morning news. One student came to me the day after I gave the assignment and (with attitude) said, "My dad said I don't have to do the speech because he's a member of the KKK." I, of course, told him that was fine but he would have to do a small research paper on the speech instead. He left extremely peeved and I thought, "Oh no, I'm gonna be on the news." Luckily, no burning crosses showed up in my yard and every last student, including the KKK spawn, participated. I felt victorious! Unfortunately, that wasn't the last case of racism I experienced in Pelion. When discussing the Civil Rights movement, every year I had numerous students who were all too willing to divulge information about their grandfathers, uncles, etc. who had been in the KKK. I also witnessed, first hand, how text bullying can happen and incite true fear, after a white student texted all eight African American students in the 8th grade racist comments after Barak Obama's election, which almost started a riot.
I tell you these stories to prove how real racism is. And don't get me started on homophobia and the hatred my fellow Christians spew in the name of the Lord towards homosexuals who just want to be treated as equal. If you thought extremist groups were dead, trust me they're not. They are growing and becoming stronger due to the fear mongering that is allowed in our social and political arenas.
In the words of the Great Dr. King, I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Enough of the serious talk -- Now for a resolution update!
I haven't started training yet because I just don't want to start running in snowy, 30 degree weather. But I have picked a 5k to run in September! It's the Race for Fetal Hope in Charlotte, NC. I'm going to run it with my sister in law. Her aunt recently had a still born baby that was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. His name was Josiah, and we are running for him. I'm also running for my little Emma who I lost at 9 weeks. We don't have proof, but we suspect that she had some sort of genetic deficiency which caused the miscarriage. Here's the link if you want to learn more:
I've also been doing a lot of research on my million dollar idea. I found out it costs WAY too much money to hire a patent attorney, get mock up drawings and a prototype, and apply for a patent. I also researched previous patents and have found that there is a similar patent out there for my idea. I have some apprehension in going forward now because I wonder why this lady's patent didn't take off. I'm not discouraged though, because her patent isn't child-proof and is designed slightly differently than what I was thinking, so I can improve upon it. I'm also not going to get discouraged about money. I'm going to contact some attorneys and engineers and talk with the engineering department at some local universities to see if a student could help me out for a lower price. I'll continue to keep you updated!
Thanks for reading my LONG post! XOXO