This week of celebration for a profound leader has also been a trying one in my circle of family and friends and has caused me to turn inward as I went through my old books of quotes and speeches from the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I will admit to be in intentional oblivion about the movie Selma as I have just reached a point of mental and spiritual fatigue over racial uprising. For me, racial discrimination has been a real and tangible thing as I toed the lines my entire life. I have never been dark enough, nor fair enough, my hair being as confused as my spirit on which “side” to take, which box to check, and then in the last year deciding to embrace it all. It is not my priority to determine how the world perceives me; it is my obligation to be the best testimony to God’s grace.
So here I am, in my contributory blog to Dr. Martin Luther King, letting go of this focus on the color of our skin. If civil rights and the fight for racial equality is all you equate to the great preacher then perhaps you have missed the point of his teachings. Racism is only a mask for social economic separatism, a form of segregation that has effectively cloaked much darker injustices going on before our eyes that we are distracted from with something as insignificant as pigmentation of skin, nationality, and religion.
In my life, in my loss, I have often wondered how it is that I have been chosen to carry the weight that I do. I had a person tell me recently that my life is unbelievable and plays out like a Tyler Perry movie. I had others encourage me to write a book about it. That the book would be a best seller. I have yet to decide if I could or should. The only thing I am sure about is that in it there is a testimony of a grand scale of all my faith, my strength, and my ability to grow toward the light even when all around me has gone dark. I used to resent my lot in life. Fatherless at eight, molested by two different men by 14, my hero and namesake gone by 15, burying my brother in pieces at 21, and finally spending my adulthood caring for and eventually losing my heart two days before my 35th birthday. It has been far from an easy path but I am surviving, even thriving, and what keeps me moving is all the lives I have changed, I have inspired, and will change as long as God sees fit to keep me here.
Within the sermon, “Why Jesus Called A Wise Man A Fool” is an excerpt titled “A Knock at Midnight” that details the emotions and the humanity depicted in the indecision MLK faced as threats against his life and his family’s came to a head. He speaks on how we search our conscience, our reasoning on the plights we face in life, be they personal or social, and the weight of obligation to proceed despite feeling discouraged because we have a greater purpose, we have an assignment on our life that far exceeds the significance of any single being. In the darkest hour we must know we are not alone, we are never alone in our joys or our tragedies, and our testimonies are not to be kept to ourselves but rather expressed to those whose lives we are purposed to touch to keep us moving toward a better world. I am sure Dr. King did not imagine or dream of his life unfolding as it did or that in his death, he would come to represent so much more than faith in God, Christianity, racial equality, or social change. None of us can fully know the road ahead and yet all of us must make a choice. Have you heard the knock at midnight yet? How did you answer it?