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What Would MLK Say in 2018? Nine Questions You Must Ask Youself!

by Meg Okura
Whenever I see a four-foot-eleven black elderly woman in a perfectly pressed dress suit with ever so fashionable glasses that scream intellect, I get scared. You know she is judging me. In fact, she is, but most lovingly - she is my mother in law. A granddaughter of a former slave who was born in Salisbury, Maryland in 1934. According to her account, she was always at the top of her class. In her 30’s, thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, she was even able to pursue a doctoral degree and became a professional. She was able to support her family, was a multiple-time homeowner, married not just once but twice, and helped everyone around her with her time and money. My mother in law is one of many thousands of examples of successes in America.
Exactly four years ago, on the day of MLK celebration, my daughter who had just turned three at the time and I became Jews by choice. We chose Judaism so our daughter will be raised with progressive Jewish values, and so she will not be judged by her skin color but by her character and values.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I think about this part of MLK's speech everyday since the pregnancy and wonder what happened. 55 years later, today, we live in a nation where we are constantly divided into groups based on our skin color. Every time I am asked to check one of these boxes, my heart races. I just want us to belong to the human race.

Often, it’s those well-meaning nice people, like you and me, who say things that are most offensive, yet have no idea about it. For example, two years ago, a colleague of mine (a Jewish male) predicted that if Donald Trump wins the election, “you will be deported and your husband will be working in the kitchen”. He even claimed, “your daughter only got into _______ (an elite private school) because she is black.” (FYI, I have never been an illegal here, not even for one second. My husband is a professional, and a successful soprano saxophonist. As for my daughter, she scored 99 percentile on her G & T exams)

The problem with these friends is that they are so clueless, yet they scream the loudest with such confidence that they completely dismiss my opinions, which are based on facts and my personal experiences. They advertise how much they care about women, minorities and immigrants just as they dismiss exactly that person.

But I am not going to cry about being a victim of so-called micro-aggressions like this because this is nothing compared to the real hardships that I have been through in my life. Instead, I ask myself difficult questions about my own unconcsious bigotry and biases.

(1) Do I group people of color together and fail to recognize them as individuals with his or her own original thoughts and opinions?

(2) Do I expect less of people of color while I teach my children to be the best of the bests? Do I expect less diligence and less moral character from people of color than I would from my own child?

(3) Am I automatically exonerating myself of my own prejudices by accusing someone else of being a racist?

(4) When I accuse someone else of being a racist, do I really know that person’s personal views or history of what she or he might have done to actually help people of color?

(5) Do I truly care about the actual welfare of people I claim to care about, or am I using them for virtue signaling?

(6) Was my marriage to my husband an ultimate virtue-signaling?

(7) Did I become a Jew so I can rub elbos with so-called the "successful" tribe?

(8) Am I guilty or responsible for my unconcious biases and bigotry?  

(9) What would MLK say about me?


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