MLK’s Dream and My White Friends

As I sit back and enjoy this time off from work, it only makes sense to reflect on the historic nature of the day. It’s Martin Luther King Day and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Isn’t it ironic that Obama’s big day falls on the day that we celebrate the life of the man who in many ways paved the way for him to become president of this country?

On a personal level, I tend to see the impact of Martin Luther King’s dream whenever I think about my Caucasian friends, particularly the women.

I was brought up in a racially diverse environment. I attended a mixed elementary school that was located in what I’d now consider as a great side of town (Battleground Ave., Benjamin Pkwy., Friendly Ave., and West Wendover Ave. are considered the good sides of town in Greensboro). I grew up as a fan of wrestling which is a sport heavily dominated by whites. Many of my close friends and people I interact with in the blogosphere are white. In my lifetime I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter very few instances of what I’d describe as blatant racism, though I’m sure I’ve experienced  the more subliminal type many times.

One of the most important periods of my life began in the summer of 2007 when I started working at my local grocery store. Being that Reidsville is a mostly white (well maybe not) country city, most of my coworkers happened to be white. No big surprise there. But it was a big surprise once I got to form real friendships with them, many of which last to this very day.

During the weekends and after work, me and my coworkers would hang out and go to bowl or grab a bite to eat. We’d celebrate birthdays and went on trips. In every outing I was the only black person in our party. I never really stopped to think much about it and they would’ve loved me I was green. In fact, one of them actually told me such!

Then it hit me: If I was born about 25 years sooner, I would’ve likely been assaulted or discriminated against if I was seen in public with them. I may not have been able to even develop friendships with them at all. And that’s important because many of them have become an integral part of my life and I can only imagine how different my life would be without them.

Whenever I read about the Civil Rights Movement it really sticks out to me that one of the cardinal sins any black male could commit was to interact with a white woman. Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy from Mississippi, was murdered for allegedly flirting with one. A prevailing theme of the film The Birth of a Nation is that white women viewed black men as a fate worse than death. There is a scene where a white woman jumps from a cliff after being cornered by one.

Flash forward to the present.

Even though racism is still alive and well in America, society has made leaps and bounds in regards to race relations. Do I ever think racism will completely vanish? No.  There will always be those afraid to embrace anything that looks different from what they are taught to believe is pure. Those people will always influence their children and future generations to hate.

One of the proudest moments of my life occurred a few years ago when I was invited to the baby showers of two of my best friends. It was an honor because apparently I made enough of an impact in their lives for them to invite me to such an important event. Aside from the fathers, I don’t think men are typically invited to baby showers!

So I’d like to thank Martin Luther King for paving the way for me to be a part of the lives of some very special people. They have been such a blessing to me.

I took this photo during one of our outings a few years ago. Love these gals!

I took this photo a few years ago and attended both their baby showers.  Love these gals!

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5 thoughts on “MLK’s Dream and My White Friends

  1. It is amazing how far we have gone with his hard work. I find it cool how my family is only once removed from him even though I am caucasian. My father in law actually marched with Dr King. They are from Memphis too, so the night Dr King was killed he was arrested because he was out. (If you knew him you would know this is strange because he stands up for what is right but he is also a goody goody type) My sister in law was the only white woman on a CNN panel for the 40 year anniversary of his death. She was chosen because she has done so much for the rights of minorities.

    Even the small changes make a difference. I have always purchased baby dolls for my kids of other races so that they would learn to love others as much as themselves. I have run multi-cultural events at the schools so that they see how important it is.

    okay I am shutting up. All this is to say, great post.

    x,
    Becca

  2. Hey Rebecca! I can’t imagine the level of pride you must have in your family knowing they actually worked with King. Pretty cool story.

    And you’re right. The small changes do make a difference.

    I agree that it’s critical for children to be exposed to other races as early as possible. I definitely plan on having my kids around people that look different from them. I once read that by a certain age (it’s very young, but I can’t remember the exact number) kids will have already developed all of their preconceived notions of other races. Therefore, the longer a child grows up in a segregated environment, the harder it will be for them to break that mentality. That goes for blacks as well because racism goes both ways.

    Thanks for stopping by as always buddy!!!!

  3. A certain “Capt.” here. I’m retiring my screen name and am using “KipSmithers” from now on.
    After being laid off for the past seven months, I started a new job today! It’s a 90 day temp-to-hire position.

    The sad thing about racism today is that my own Senator(Rand Paul) and many still don’t get the importance of the civil rights bill and have said they would’ve voted against, that it was too much gov. “GARBAGE”, I say!

  4. What inspired the change Kip??? Anyway, glad to hear from you bro!

    Congrats on the job and I hope everything works out in regards to you being hired permanently. I remember when Rand Paul made some controversial statements regarding the civil rights bill a few years ago. As far as I’m concerned he’s always proven himself to be a grade A jerk when it comes to the issues that are really important to moving our country forward.

    • The name change happened due to people not getting the joke. “Capt. Smooth” is a parody of the cooler-than-you internet culture. People kept thinking I was calling myself that; that I really thought that about myself and I just got tired of having to explain the joke.

      “KipSmithers” is an alias Will Smith once gave on Fresh Prince. I thought it had a nice ring to it and decided to use it.

      So agree about Rand Paul. I love my state of Kentucky, but there are too many people who just don’t get it. At least Louisville(my city) is pretty normal. 🙂

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