Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tonight after work my business partners and I started what we hope will be a long running tradition of Listening Tree parties on Martin Luther King's real birthday. This year wasn't much - thrown together at the last minute, but better than last year and the year before when we had the idea but did nothing. Next year, with a little history behind us, maybe we will manage to invite more people and have more of a do. But this year was good - just partners and office mates and one of their two year old daughters plus everybody's last client. We had fruit and barbecue and talked politics and family and and were black and white together and from different backgrounds and circumstances. It was a tiny island but one bright little maifestation of the "I Have A Dream" speech. One thing that gets to me is that, growing up as de facto segregated as I did, this simple integrated gathering still seems like a little miracle. Which my daughters think is very odd. It ought to be odd. Rather it strikes me tonight as truly sad. I think about all the blood that has been shed all over the world about differences in race and religion and I just want to cry.

So Happy Birthday Dr. King. And thnak you.


Mary said...

Yes! Thank you, Dr. King.

Your MLK birthday gatherings are a great way to celebrate his legacy, indeed.

Bob said...

Most of the time I don't notice the fairly prevalent integration of races. But there are many moments, especially anything that brings attention to the issue, like MLK day, where I also look around and say to myself, "Wow, we've come a long way!" -- and also sometimes, "And we still have a ways to go!"

Ruth said...

I like your party idea---how did the clients respond?

We're supposed to be teaching our kids a little about Dr. King tomorrow--I'm curious to see how that goes.

My MLK's birthday was interesting--we had a (black) sub who kept talking about the time he "fed that little black girl in a wheelchair" (to which we would respond--you mean Katelyn? And he would say "yes Katelyn, only to talk, a moment latter, about "that little black girl in a wheelchair".). It drove me crazy. I don't think it was about race---more about disability and not seeing her as a person I suspect. But either way it was an interesting non-king-y counterpoint for the day.

Mama said...

Odd, and disturbing, that the sub could not seem to bring himself to call Katelyn by name. Did he call the other children by name?Do you think it was because she is less apparently "in there" than the others and so he had more toruble seeing her as human (no excuse for that but I wonder).
And - do you think its always wrong to use racial descriptors. I think I still do it sometimes with no ill intent - just as I might refer to a very tall man or a red head or the little girl with white curls - I might say the black woman in the red dress or the Asian man with the babyin the backpack if trying to identify strangers. I know I wouldn't mind someone who didn't know me labeling me as the Irishy Jewishy looking red headed older woman with the shawl. It does seem different with Katelyn since he did have a chance to learn her name - and repeatedly too. is this the same individual (the sub) who was so slow before?

Dixi said...

I love the idea of a Listening Tree party on Martin Luther King's REAL birthday, and I hope the tradition does continue. It is interesting that this integrated get-together seems like a small miracle and nice how you all invited your last clients to join in.

I was reflecting yesteday, here in Hawaii, how multi-ethnic it is here. And I love that. We walked past a group of school children, and 'white' was a definite minority; but everyone was interacting with each other just as kids do.

I thought to myself how well my daughters and all of my grandchildren would 'fit' here; but then on further thought I considered that I doubt that any of my grandchildren think about what race someone is at all. They are surrounded by different races.

I do wonder at what age children who grow up surrounded by diversity even SEE different races. Or when it becomes important in any way to them.