In my past appointment our offices were open on Martin Luther King Day. I often found this curious but I think it is a prevailing idea that flows though whites in the south (please correct me if I am wrong). It still sends chills up my spine when I hear someone refer to the day as (PLEASE pardon the expression) Martin Luther Coon Day. (I feel sick even typing that) There is a sad sense of reluctance for many of the white people I have come in contact with to celebrate this day as something important to them.
More and more I am troubled by this. I overhear comments in the fellowship hall or during group conversations, people giving slightly racist remarks towards the holiday. “How are you going to celebrate the holiday, *wink *wink.” Looking back, growing up the most disturbing comment I remember about someone poking fun of the holiday was, “hell if we shot four more we could get the whole week off.” (once again, I’m sick)
Why does this thought process or racial feelings still exist today? The only idea I have is that racial ideology is past down from generation to generation. Those who grew up in the civil rights movements, Baby Boomers, have passed down their social ideology to their children who are now, unfortunately, passing the same way of thinking down to their children. My wife and I have already discussed that it will stop with us. My children will not be taught that blacks are lazy, criminals, or people we should be scared of. My children will understand that learning our nation’s neighbor’s language is not a bad thing and it is something almost every other country in the world does. I want my children to grow up to see other people the way God does, as one of God’s children. They are not a skin tone, not a race, but as a person, a child of God.
MLK Day is important because that is what this day represents. We Christians should celebrate the fact that as a nation we celebrate the civil rights of ALL people because that is an image of the Kingdom of God. We should rejoice in the fact that our country thinks this preacher, this minister from Georgia who followed God’s will, is important enough to name a holiday after him. Christians will make a fuss about Christmas but are silent when banks are open on Good Friday or if Church’s close for MLK Day. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Racism is still prevalent in my community and I am asking God the best way to handle it. Currently I am in the middle of a sermon series but next year I plan to celebrate and honor MLK on that Sunday, by the way which is also UMC’s Human Relations Sunday. I will have to start to ask people to reframe from saying comments like they have in front of me because I’m offended when I hear them. I am going to have to speak prophetically from the pulpit and in other areas of the church because this problem is not gone. MLK’s dream is still a little farther away than I thought.