even though i’m a couple of days late, i’ve been thinking about dr. martin luther king’s life and legacy. i downloaded a podcast of his “i have a dream” speech. you can find it here. it’s amazing how powerful his words remain today, even for a worn-out cynic like me.

i have been thinking about racial equality and justice in america. on some levels, especially at the legislative/political level, things have gotten much better. out-and-out racism is on the decline (although recent anti-immigration laws might reverse that trend) in that sense.

however, i think racial prejudice usually affects people in a more subtle, personal way. i was born and raised in michigan, and although my town was diverse for the midwest, it was predominantly white. one day, when i was about sixteen, a group of friends and acquaintances went bowling. two of my friends began arguing – something about someone owing money (always a touchy subject among friends and family). at one point, frustrations boiled over and one boy shouted at the other, “don’t try to jew me out of that money!”

the other boy stood there, stunned. after a moment, he collected himself and told the other kid how that offended him, because his own ethnic/religious background was jewish.

now, one would hope for an apology and a quick reconciliation. unfortunately, the other, very white, boy became incensed. “how dare you accuse me of racism! that’s just a phrase people say. it doesn’t mean anything. you’re being too sensitive. just shut up and take it…”

i’m not sure if i was afraid that the others would turn against me (“oh, now the korean kid is getting into it”), or just too timid in general, but i stood there watching — silently.

i know that some people will not listen to reason. that even if one approaches them in a calm, rational, humble manner that they will still lash out with their racism. but, i hope that i’ve learned something from this. that i won’t be restricted to defending “my own” but that i will stand in solidarity with all of God’s people — to speak truth to injustice and to live out the dream of God for unity.