Thank You, Dr. King

My sons live a life
filled with color and the name
Jim Crow means nothing
in their ears.

I danced days
to African drums,
black and brown and
caramel cream
bodies moving in sync
with my own pale arms
and legs.
We flew across
the floor.

My father’s adoration
was born in Nephertiti
and brought me to a life
with multi-colored brothers
and sisters,
and my poet heart was formed
in the rhythm
of Nikki Giovanni,
her cotton candy words
a key to open me
forever.

I thank you,
Dr. King,
for your bold dream,
for your great hope –
the change for which
you gave up everything,
followed Jesus
to a cross,
the reformation wrought
by words, by ideas,
by truth,
wrought to give me
and my children
a world
worth dreaming in,
a world where all our dreams
can every one
in every color
dance free.

middleschoolmp

Middle School means “awkward stage” for a lot of girls (and boys). I was no exception. As a small child, I was used to being adorable and pampered. People commented on my black hair and big eyes and “china doll” complexion. Then, I suddenly had long gangly limbs and my hair held oil like nobody’s business. Kids called me Wednesday Adams or Casper. I hated my freckles and the fact that my dark hair meant my legs looked like money legs until Mom finally gave in and let me shave. Boys made up rhymes about my flat chest. You know… middle school happened.

But something else happened too. I started taking dance classes. They were public school dance classed, so we touched on all the styles, starting with ballet but also doing jazz and tap and modern. By the time I was in high school, I discovered I wasn’t half bad at certain kinds of dancing. One day, working on choreography in the gym, one of my classmates called out, “Hey white girl!” She motioned me over and included me in her group.

I was often shunned by my peers. Even after my awkward stage. I didn’t have the right clothes… enough money… the right opinions. I walked on eggshells around most white girls. Back then, I didn’t think of it in those terms. But, in hindsight, the girls who were mean and exclusive were all white. Instinctively, when I entered a classroom, I would gravitate to the black girls, the Asian girls, the Hispanic girls. I was never quite one of them, but they never once shunned me for being different. They never made fun of me.

I hesitated to write this. Probably, it’s not PC to say such things. I still have friends of all colors, and I have learned there are things we can say to each other that we could never say to the general public. But this is the truth…

I am so thankful that Dr. King and others stood up for justice and equality. They paved the way for a future where I could find friends who accept me for who I am. And that is the least of their great accomplishments.

Thank you, Dr. King.

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One thought on “Thank You, Dr. King

  1. Pingback: How Marriage is a Salad Bowl | Heather Truett

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