On the third Monday in January, which falls on January 21st this year, our country celebrates the Federal holiday Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation of the new holiday back in 1986, he gave the reason for MLK Day saying, “It is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. We rejoice because, in his short life, Dr. King, by his preaching, his example, and his leadership, helped to move us closer to the ideals on which America was founded…He challenged us to make real the promise of America as a land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and brotherhood.”
These many years later we are still challenged to make The Rev. Dr. King’s dream a reality. We are surely not there yet, from what I see on the news and experience in my own family. As with many things in life, it is when things affect us personally that wrongs, such as racism, become more glaringly apparent. To be honest, the racism in our country is an everyday concern to me as it impacts people I love, particularly my grandchildren Bradley, 14, and Lucy, 11.
As many of you know, I moved to the Miami area in 2014 to provide family support to my youngest daughter and son-in-law, Jory and Brett, who had just had a Haitian brother and sister placed with them for adoption. We knew intellectually that a trans-racial adoption would add another dimension to the dynamics of adopting older siblings who had experienced difficult life circumstances, but hoped that love and the stability of a caring, nurturing home would allow them to grow up happy and healthy, regardless of our ebony and ivory differences. And to a great extent this has happened, with God’s very real and present help!
What concerns us more and more is how racism is affecting the children’s lives now and will affect them in the future. This runs the gamut from self-esteem issues to safety concerns. Being black in America, especially being a black teenage boy, can be a dangerous thing! And so we try to do the best we can, as white parents and a white grandma, to educate our kids about the reality and the evil of racism and how to navigate it in daily life, while hoping and praying for the day when it is eradicated. If only people could see and love each other as human beings, beautiful as created by God, in our diversity!
This quote by Dr. King is so true. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Please join me in doing what we can, as followers of Jesus Christ, to help love win!
In justice and peace.
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ