On Sunday, August 28th the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington D.C. was supposed to have been dedicated. Though Hurricane Irene has delayed the event until sometime in September, this commercial’s invitation to, “Come to the table of brotherhood,” had been taken literally by my daughter Anna. She requested our family come to the table together and that our conversation take on this ceremony and celebration. So we gathered on that Sunday for a delicious dinner of pizza, fruit-salad, and peach crumble, all made by my son, on this late summer evening.
We enjoyed a wonderful conversation between two generations who had lived in New York, tasting the full flavour of a delicious American melting pot. I raised my children, now adults, not to, “…judge by the colour of anyone’s skin, but by the content of their character,” after I was raised in a home of prejudice and assumed righteous order. But it is never a matter of simple choice made, no further work necessary.
Silence is the biggest perpetrator of prejudice, so we must vow to keep this conversation going, with our selves and each other. After my last post (the Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial Wall on Bainbridge) someone opined that the wartime incarceration of Japanese-Americans was for their protection. Anna and I knew better and, because of conversations we were fortunate enough to be a part of, we could carry the conversation forward.
When I asked someone to refrain from prejudicial jokes, I was informed it was certainly NOT prejudice…as long as that ethnicity was NOT in the room at the time. Yeah…I’d laugh at the backwards logic (and assumption of anyone’s purely Caucasian family tree) but it’s chilling in its implication of NOT being invited to the table, and it’s sad to see the conversation broken down to righteous, chilled…silence. Women of every ethnicity understand the slap of dismissal.
All relationships require ongoing awareness, for growth, and we must realize prejudice is so subliminally stuck, for lack of conversations. We separate by unnecessary ethnic description, by complicit silence at slurs and jokes. We separate by not respectfully asking about each other’s lives, cultures and beliefs, by not listening to each other’s stories for the common thread of humanity. We separate by not believing that everyone’s different story is what makes this country.
Dr. King, we’ve made some marvelous strides, with a lot of work, since you were taken from us. There’s many a mile in this journey yet, but if we all gather at the table, Sir, we will give each other the nourishment to see your dream become America.