Today, I visited my daughter’s school to attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly. Several wonderful groups from the school performed. We heard his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, pieces of “I have a dream” as well as hearing some wonderful music. While one group performed to the song “I have a dream” by will.i.am, I was jammin’ with Gigi in my lap. This caught the attention of the boy next to me. I could feel his spirit warming up to me.
At the break, he said something to me and we made our introductions. The next act included a group reciting the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech made by Dr. King. At the point that they said, “Negros”, he leaned forward and said something to the girl in front of him. They were both black. Once the speech was over, he said somewhat derisively, “Four kids up there are black”. I asked him how many people in his class are black. He counted in his head and said, “Five.” I asked how many in his neighborhood. His answer, “All of them.”.
I asked if he was offended by what they said on stage. He said, “Yeah”. I asked if he knew who wrote the words. “No,” was his reply. When I told him it was Dr. King, he said, “Nuh uh. It was not. He would never say that. We read about him.” I told him it was a different speech than “I have a dream” and told him that “Negro” was a common word back then. He thought they had said Nigger. I assured him they had not. I realized that the assistant principal was asking everyone to be quiet and said we should probably stop talking. He said, “Her? Forget about her. She doesn’t care about us.” I said, “I know for a fact she cares because I’ve talked to her.” He seemed to be willing to accept that but still seemed a little unsure. (Gigi was telling us to be quiet at this point so we stopped.)
I can see why Sean thought she didn’t care. She is very white and very tense. She cares deeply about the students but seems to care more in those moments about crowd control. I found myself wondering if she’s ever been to a movie theater in the inner city. In my view, audiences talking, moving and participating is normal everywhere except white middle adult America. I can never help my exuberance when I’m feeling joyful or filled with emotion. To expect anyone, especially young children to sit still and be QUIET like you would see at the ballet is ridiculous. It’s also important to remember that cultural differences need to be taken into consideration.
The final act was a band of high school kids playing their original music. One boy had a One.org shirt on. Sean pointed him out and said, “See this bump here in my knuckle? He gave it me. I was messing around with the drums and he hit my hand with a drumstick to get me to stop.”
There we were listening to the words of Dr. King and celebrating the message of peace and unity and here was a little black boy feeling very isolated and disconnected from the whole thing who had been treated violently by someone on stage when words would have sufficed. He was looking for someone or something he could connect with and wasn’t finding it.
Today I saw a police officer run a red light. This is the kind of thing that would one day get Sean and his friends in the Central District pulled over for and yet there our representative of “The Law” was breaking it.
We all really need to start walking our talk. Sean and other children will never trust the people with authority and power if it is abused. Why should they? Why should any of us? I often catch myself doing or saying something hypocritical with my kids. I am working very hard right now to stop that. I can’t expect my daughter to honor her commitments if I don’t or for them to use “inside voices” if I’m being loud.
I am not trying to cast a “negative” view on life. I am simply noticing the shadow and asking what I can do about it. I don’t believe there is an “us” and “them”. I believe we are all part of a pulsating body of energy that is expanding. I want to expand in the direction of the Light and I am trying to discover how to do this when I come face-to-face with my own shadow so often. I want to let it inform me, not overcome me.
I am currently reading Shakti Gawain‘s book “Living in the Light”. She has this to say about creating the life we desire, “Everything is a creative process. Visualizations and affirmations are only tools to help in the process. Our own healing is the most important process taking place on Earth at the moment, because it influences the collective all or oneness. The greatest harm we inflict on Earth is our separation from nature. When we change, we also change the world around us. The Earth is undergoing a great transformation – and it happens very fast. Old values and patterns can no longer be followed. We must heal ourselves and find out own path. We must make use of our will, become valiant ‘knights’ on a crusade for positive thinking, positive acting. However, on this crusade we cannot become victorious unless we also recognize our shadow side; our fears, our denials, our negative thought-patterns. This side of ourselves must also be brought into the light in order to manifest wholeness.”
So today, I have a dream. I have a dream that we will learn to embrace our wholeness, including our shadow.
I have a dream that I will walk my talk every day and remember to forgive myself when I don’t.
I have a dream that we will all remember that we are One and truly treat each other the way we want to be treated.
I have a dream that we will use our feminine receptive nature to inform us and our masculine directive nature to take positive action in the world.
I know it starts here and now, with me.