Martin Luther King Jr Day.. We need his words now more than ever..

Recently as you have probably heard Donald Trump said he doesn't want immigrants from sh%^$%# countries like Haiti, Africa and El Salvador, and only wants blond-blue eyed Norwegians like my father immigrating to the US. He is a full out racist and white supremacist preaching ideology like Hitler did against the Jews. People did not take Hitler and even the genocide seriously until it was too late. Let's hope people heed his words now. It is simply laughable that he would think Norwegians from one of the most socially progressive, wealthy and racially accepting nations with the best health care would want to enter Trump's America and become a US citizen.

Well we can't give up hope, we have to never give up. We must never become bitter or hostile  It is not easy to do especially when you are a person of colour. However, people like Martin Luther King Jr. bring hope back to our hearts. How sad is it that we have gone back to such a racially divided time once again. He fought so hard for our freedoms and some things are much better now because of his sacrifice. He sacrificed his own life because he was killed due to racial hate.  He was the king of love. If it weren't for Martin Luther King Jr. schools would still be segregated and we would still be riding at the back of buses. President Obama would never have been president. Yes we have made positive strides.

Although there are many positives we cannot ignore how far we have still yet to go. Anyone who says racism is gone now, is wrong. slavery is still alive too both figuratively and literally. Now everyone can see what I have been saying before it was socially acceptable to say so... "Donald Trump is a racist". People were too scared to say it before but now there is undeniable proof.

The Apartheid wasn't a crisis until society spoke up. The Holocaust wasn't a crisis until the world finally took notice, Black men being shot to death in the US wasn't either until people publicized it etc, etc.

History sadly always seems to repeat itself and we just can't learn from our mistakes. However, there is ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS some brave souls who stand up, even when it's not socially acceptable to stand up against injustice and we all need to do this.

Martin Luther King said "To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."

Even if we don't participate in the racism, if we turn a blind eye because it's too depressing or too negative and we want to live in a world viewed through rose-coloured glasses we are doing  a great disservice to us all. We are just as bad as the hateful aggressor.

Martin Luther King Jr, abolitionists, feminists, Rosa Parks, John Lewis and so many others have fought for our freedom and they are admired by all races because they didn't fight with hate but with Love.

I find that Canadians are too complacent. They say that racism is an American problem and Canadians aren't racist. We have as bloody a history as the US. We had a huge history of slavery just the same until 1834. Black people in Canada WERE SLAVES. There is a huge misconception that African slavery was not present in Canada that is a myth. Black Slaves were tortured, raped and beaten and lived the same miserable lives as in the US. Black Slavery ended earlier than it did in the Southern US as England gave up slavery before the US but we can't pretend it didn't exist. Also First Nations people were kept as slaves. Many people try to wash that also under the carpet. They are still facing daily institutional racism despite the end of residential schools. The wording still is not changed in the federal government from "Status Indians" and the "Department of Indian Affairs", which many First Nations people find offensive. Many reserves in northern parts of Canada still don't have running water and they live as third world citizens. Police rarely take sexual assault or the disappearance of aboriginal women seriously. To read about the history of slavery of Blacks and Aboriginal people in Canada click HERE.

Oh yes we still have racism in this country now more than ever. It is shown in many forms of injustice including economic inequality. Trump's racially charged words have inspired terrorist attacks in Canada that have taken lives such as in Quebec. A young Muslim woman faced a racist attack on a bus in Vancouver and these attacks on Muslims have occurred across the country.

Recently Prince Harry got engaged to a mixed woman who is half black and half white. This will be the first time a black person marries into the immediate British Royal Family.  A Politician yesterday has posted terribly offensive racist words against her. She and others do not want a black princess they would have to bow and curtsy to. Racism is sadly still alive.  Black people and all people of colour in society have to work twice as hard to prove themselves and coloured women even more so, as they face another barrier of sexism.

In the US things are in a terrible state. Women's rights are now finally getting taken seriously after far too long. Women's voiced were silenced in regards to sexual abuse and equal pay. It took one woman to be brave enough to stand up and then others followed suit. This is not a black problem it's a world problem. Slavery and injustice didn't end because blacks did it, white people had to help to make it happen. Change only happens when we all work together.

People sometimes say, "well I can't change anything so I don't find a point in speaking up". It just takes one voice, to make a difference.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one man and he spoke up like other men before him and then people followed Dr. King. 

A movement starts with one.

Robert Kennedy, another great man and civil rights activist gave a speech in 1968 announcing to the world that Dr. King had died. It is a moving speech ,if you haven't heard it already. If you have heard it listen again below; it shows how he brought all races together. Robert Kennedy urged us then to make a difference and to not hate each other but to unite. Unfortunately we still are not there yet. Sadly, he too was shot dead in a similar fashion.



Being of mixed race black and white I have the blood of slaves and slave owners inside me.  I have experienced racism in my life by being called "n words", social racism where people make racist comments about my race in front of me, I have experienced racism in birding. There are many coloured birders who have experienced racism in birding both from the public and from other birders themselves. See some articles on racism in birding HERE and HERE. Females also experience sexism in birding too and racism and sexism also tends to go hand in hand. You can read about issues some women birders face HERE. Birding is a Caucasian and older male dominated hobby worldwide but things are changing but we need to face the truth.I have seen ignorant racial comments posted on listserves and message boards yes right here in BC even once directed at a non-Caucasian child birder. I recently read about a Gay couple who experienced anti gay rhetoric during a Christmas Bird Count in Orgeon. We have to be uncomfortable for things to change. We need to stand up when we see this sort of disgusting behavior in birding. It is nice to see so many young birders of mixed race coming into birding and seeing different races of adults starting to come into the hobby as well.

Birds don't see colour, so it's a universal hobby that can bring us all peace and together. I know that in this time I have been very angry about Trump's racist ideology but I have been more mad at the silence and excuses until now. I have been increasingly disappointed and frustrated at the backwards reversal since much of Martin Luther King's work has been undone. I don't give up though because it has not broken and destroyed his work and it cam never do that.

Love always trumps hate. Good always trumps Evil.

His words will continue to inspire. They tried to silence Dr. King by killing him but they were not successful. They tried to discredit his words by making accusations against his moral character and they were not successful. His words are as powerful as ever. It's unfortunate Canada doesn't celebrate this day as well officially because it is not a US problem it never was, as I explained above. Martin Luther King Jr changed the world for all people of colour. He gave hope to gays, bisexuals, trans and feminists. He gave hope to us all facing injustice and oppression.

He gave Maya Angelou the inspiration to write a poem that has helped me especially after suffering racist attacks in my life. I have seen my father being called a "n$%%^ lover" with my mother in WA, I have seen shop keepers follow my mother around a store. I have been followed around a store. I've had things thrown at me and been taunted.  I have been sent racist emails because I run the bird alert and people disagreed with my views on protecting owls and just because they hate that I was in a prominent position in the birding community. I've seen racism from every level and walk of my life both subtle and outright blatant displays. But I hold my head high and remember these words that Maya Angelou said:


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Martin Luther King said "Have a deep belief in your own dignity and your own worth..., don't allow anyone to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count, always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance."

I play this speech below frequently to remind me even though through struggles and racial attacks that I have suffered including right here on Vancouver. One day in Dec 2016 while riding the seabus, a person who was a trump supporter started spouting the "n word" at me and denouncing President Obama with evil words, while everyone on the bus looked on and then looked away without helping me or telling the person to stop his racial insults. I played these words in my head while the person screamed at me... I kept my head high, I didn't cry.



John Lewis said he had hot coffee poured on him, spat on and beat and he always kept his head held high. If you show your enemy you have dignity he said they see they can't break you and it in turns weakens them. When racists see you react to them they know they have gotten to you and get a savage satisfaction. So although hard, he said always hold your head high and I try to live those words.
 
Today I celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. even though I am always sad about how hard people had to fight, how people had to work to combat oppression so blacks had the right to vote and so I and woman like me can work and had the chance to go to school beside white students. So that I can have the freedom to date and marry someone who could be white without facing criminal prosecution, jail and death, as many mixed couples did. So that I can do something as simple as run a Bird Alert and have prominence in a birding community dominated by a Caucasian clientele. This is why I celebrate, so that today a black person can grow up and be whoever they want to be, even the President of the United States or a Princess in England.

We shall overcome. Time is tough now, unbelievably so in 2018 but I am trying hard to see hope for the future. Here is his most famous speech... unfortunately his dream is still not completely realized.



Nina Simone wrote this moving song in tribute to Dr. King. She was an amazing singer but also a civil rights activist and she wrote this song after Dr. King was shot to death. It moves me to tears, each time and right now her words are more palpable than ever.



 
There is no way I could end this post without the words that hit me the hardest that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr ever spoke. He was such a moving orator and even in 2018 his words inspire us more than ever.

Listen to this excerpt from his speech "I have been to the Mountaintop" in 1968. His last speech he ever gave. These words are so true especially today....don't give up hope, keep fighting. Change will come






Comments

  1. Wow what a beautiful post, very moving and well written. The videos moved me to tears thanks for posting

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jennifer KristilikJanuary 15, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    Melissa you inspire me! By the way did you see that pig Donald trump played golf on mLK day? https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/post-politics/wp/2018/01/15/on-mlk-day-president-trump-visits-trump-golf-course/

    I guess you aren't surprised since his main goal was to discredit the first black president's legacy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. mel i was moved.... so moved. we have so much further to go in canada and the us. trump is making it slower to get there but get there we shall.

    mike

    ReplyDelete
  4. So sorry to hear about the incident you had on the seabus. It is also terrible to hear that even some birders display such racism and ignorance. I hope that the community is overwhelmingly positive for you, even if there are some who are not, and that things will improve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh definitely sweetheart. My friend Jeremiah kennedy got some of those racist emails about me which were so bad they even made threats against my life and person and you know what he stood up for me right away called me offered support and wanted to even hold a walk of birders to combat racism. I didn't do it because I didn't want to give the racists satisfaction of knowing they got to me but I'll never forget his support. Also almost all my friends are male Caucasian birders and none racist this is not the majority. We have a great community for the most part but we can't hide the bad as well just like in every aspect of life. Love you B.

      Delete
  5. Preach on, sister. I see Trump as a puppet in the Oval office, but his words are 100% his and they are truly disgusting. I feel for all of those discriminated even in birding, a hobby that is supposed to unite people...sick.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you all for the touching words.

    ReplyDelete

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