On MLK Day, A Healing & Transformational Message
As this Martin Luther King Day rolls around, many of us are taken aback by how much work has to be done to realize his dream of equal treatment of all U.S. residents. This is a time to thank many people for the work you have been doing to advance harmony, balance and healing among members of the human race. So, I thank YOU.
I particularly want to thank my friend Margaret Clay, who is an oiler-colleague and life coach. She wrote the following message. I hope you can hear her heart as it beats and pours out the truth she has witnessed and is thankful for on this Martin Luther King Day.
Miss Emma is the hostess in the dining room at my mother’s retirement home. She has a gracious and commanding presence. I had deep respect for her before I heard her story (through my mother) of how she insisted that her family risk life and limb to integrate the public school where they lived in Alabama. Her story demanded that I write her a note. This letter is intended for every African American who has touched my life, whether or not I have met them. Thank you, Niamo, for all that you have added to my life.
Who would they have become if they had not brought slaves to their young country? We might be more resourceful, more interdependent, more equal with no free labor to rely upon. Maybe. They might not have become so economically powerful, and we might not be so consumed with power and greed today. Maybe.
But here we are. And as I reflect over my life, it has been my experience of the black culture, the black depth — however silent, still palpable in its presence—that has added such richness to my own life.
For what it’s worth, I am heartbroken over the pains that “my people” have inflicted upon “your people” (as if we are anything besides “all people”). And profoundly moved by the power and passion that accompanies your collective voice: “And still I rise.”
We have needed your strength all along. Misunderstood and minimized initially as brute strength (coveted and hated simultaneously), the strength I see now I have never witnessed in a collective of lighter skin (although there are glimmers of it these days, with your help). You have modeled for us as you have sung through your trials and cried over your losses. Unlike my British roots that teach unnatural propriety denouncing honest human expression, I watch your collective that will not “behave” but instead feel and love and sing and mourn and dance. And rage. And rise up. Again and again and again. Because you are living your truth, and Truth will not forever be silenced. Such clear teachers with such unwilling students!
The fact that your black skin has not always been welcome here makes you all the richer, deeper, wiser with so much more to teach us. Thank you for having lived your life as you have. Your integrity and persistence to “rise” and to be counted has made my world a better place.
Please know that you have my deepest respect and greatest appreciation for being you! If there is some way I can soften your steps or lighten your load, please help me to know how that might happen.
With great gratitude,
I felt very calm and recognized after reading this. On second reading something stood out: Yes, some were slaves when taken from Africa. All were Africans. The ma’afa (African holocaust) is so rooted in lost identity that the words “slave” and “African” seem synonymous. I am saddened yet not angry because of this. More and more textbooks writers are getting the memo….
I believe lost identity wracked the spirit of African people, and this condition is the crux of many mind-body-spirit dis-eases that challenge and injure the people. These injuries cause pain. It’s the kind of pain that another person carry on a cross for us or attach to a crescent for relief.
Solid reparations work within the collective is geared towards correcting this. Holistic health and justice work are a righteous stand for human rights and healing rights (the right to allow our body to heal itself).
Thank YOU to Margaret Clay, for inspiring me with your heartfelt sentiments.
Best wishes to you and yours as we together ponder the rich, redeeming and healing possibilities of Martin Luther King Day.
–Rev. Niamo Nancy Muid