Posted by: eliseanne | May 15, 2009

On the picture on top, the Lincoln Memoral, and Diversity Training…

So what’s with the photo at the top of the blog?

If you can make it out, it says “I have a dream. Martin Luther King Jr.” That is etched on the top step of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Was that speech monumental? Yes. Was that movement monumental? Yes. What about its meaning and impact? Heck yes.

Is it etched clearly, clean, and roped off, with signs telling people it is there so they don’t miss it? NO. You would miss it if you didn’t happen to glance down and see it as you stepped on top of the words, eager to get inside and see ridiculously large Abe Lincoln, man who said that black people should never be equals with white people.

How tragic. How wrong. How upsetting. And yet…it makes its point, doesn’t it.  And I think the point of this blog, too. I know I’m not going to catch everything and write it here; in fact I will miss a lot. But how much goes unnoticed? How much injustice, or how much heroism? Who will leave a monument to the oppressed, or to those who stood and spoke for them? Who will clean off or set apart the tokenist memorials that have been made?

The one thing I know about my people, my white euro-american culture, is that we can ignore. It is so easy – we usually dont even have to choose to do it. It comes naturally and subconsciously. My eyes, mind, and heart have been opened to so much as I engage my culture and those around me. And I take it as my responsibility, as a member of the oppressive race and dominant culture in this nation (and, oftentimes, world…), to speak out and stand up. To shake up and challenge our systems. I know I’m not alone as I do this. For simple starters, exhibit A: The quest to build a real memorial to the Rev. Dr. King on the National Mall. This is the virtual tour of the proposed memorial. How powerful to have a memorial to him in D.C., amongst revered presidents who thought him less than equal – a man who stood for non-violence, amidst war memorials.

May this blog encourage you, and may it challenge others of you. I like dialogue – give and take. So chime in. No holds barred, please. No matter where you are at in the journey of life and its complexities, you are welcome here.  We all learn from each other, that is the beauty of dialogue and community. I just ask for respect and dignity to be shown to all.

——-

I just came from work and a training called Wrestling With Diversity. Not your typical write-off, words-mean-nothing diversity training. But raw, real, and honest. It was beautiful, and we are very thankful to Seth Naicker for facilitating with boldness and speaking Truth to power, daring to see what God sees at my workplace.

But the training was not accepted to be for the whole organization. So we offered it in our department, and sent out an invite to all employees. To their credit, the CEO and head of $$ came. But the $$ person left before we were half-way through. The CEO stayed until the last 1/2 hr. Our #2 stayed the whole time, but she is also not white. The heads of communication and of a big department stayed; many thanks and appreciation to them. 

What does it mean, though, when the head of $$ and the CEO do not stay? What does it say to the people of color in the room, when a white person in power skips out not even half-way through?

What does it mean to MLK’s fellow marchers when the small etchings of  a ‘memorial’ (in the midst of a god-like temple to a man of opposite beliefs) are dirty, rubbed off, stepped on, and near illegible?

Those are my thoughts for the day.

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Responses

  1. Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I hope that when our children are old enough to take a school trip to D.C. a trip to a MLK memorial will be as “normal” as a trip to the Jefferson or Lincoln memorials.

  2. Speak it woman!!


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