While, volunteering and service to community are incredibly laudable, my fear is that the historical importance of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement will continue to be diluted. The American history I was taught in high school was so watered down that I had no inkling about the horrors that blacks faced in the U.S. My ignorance was compounded by the fact that elders in my family who were born and raised in the south were so traumatized that they never spoke about what it was like living in the segregated south.
When visiting family in rural Macon, GA as a child, the only impression I was left with was one of poverty – not of the many social “isms” that were staring me right in the face.
If you think these survival instincts fade over time, think again. The problem is, that some of these learned behaviors are actually counterproductive in the modern era as they exude a lack of confidence and may make black folks more vulnerable to exclusion.
This nation has come a long way. But let’s not get it twisted: Racism Still Exists! And it is negatively impacting the mental and physical health of those who experience it (see article). So yes, volunteer away on MLK Day. But please remain mindful of the struggles that birthed such an amazing leader. And let us work to heal the mental and emotional wounds that are still ever present so we can fully realize the dream that Dr. King had envisioned.
~One drop of knowledge can ripple through an entire community