Eric Holder’s comments on my country’s (the U.S.) cowardice in approaching the conversation about race has had an interesting effect on me. In a nutshell, it has fueled my thinking on the issue. If one wants to call it inspiration I won’t argue with that, but the fact is I’ve thought about matters of race all of my life. It comes with the territory of being a minority. Nevertheless, Mr. Holder caused me to peer a little deeper than normal into the issue.
Right after the U.S. Presidential election, I spoke to a childhood friend of mine who I love dearly. She asked me what I thought of the result, and I told her of my disappointment. She was genuninely shocked. Somehow, throughout the years she had missed out on me being conservative (those of you who know be me are surely shocked, but I’m not kidding here). After the usual half hour exchange that occurs between me and fellow black Americans who wonder how on earth I could possibly be conservative and vote Republican, she started explaining to me how so many black people in America were now holding their heads up high. I was gobsmacked. First of all, the racial litmus test of what it took to have them hold their heads high was revealed in a startling way. But what’s more is Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. Dubois, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Dr. George Washington Carver, Dr. Charles Drew, and countless others weren’t enough for them to hold their heads up high before President Obama, who has yet to prove he is worthy to have his name spoken in the same breath as the people above. Then there’s the exclusion of members of every other race that has done something for the cause of equality in the United States and beyond. I couldn’t help but wonder what one of my favorite people, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would think of this.
Dr. King is, of course, a figure whose memory everyone likes to envoke to drive home points about race. I don’t find this to be a bad thing unless his memory is being misused. He fought for racial justice, and knowingly laid down his life for the cause. I love what Dr. King has done for black America, and the world. I also love how he practiced what he preached.
I’m a firm believer in the thought that you can judge a person by the people they admire. Dr. King was an admirer of both Jesus Christ and Gandhi. I know of very few people who don’t honestly admire both men. Both stood for justice in ways few of us can conceive, but we are all grateful for. Like Dr. King, both died for their causes. They said things incredibly inspiring. Inspiring enough for a Dr. King to become who he was. Conspicuously, Dr. King’s admiration had nothing to do with their color. Dr. King had no racial litmus test for who he admired. Whether we like it or not, that speaks volumes.
Maybe I’m a bit odd, but history has shown us there are more than a few people, of various races and backgrounds, to draw inspiration from. Personally, I choose Christ as my first choice, then the list goes on to include His mother, my parents, the most lovely Finnish lady to walk the face of the earth (my wife), Dr. King, St. John Chrysostomos, and it will probably continue on until my last breath. My point is I can’t understand how anyone would limit themselves to admiration only within their race when humanity is chocked full of people of all kinds to admire.
The world is a VERY big place, with a lot of wonderful people in it. As I continue to meet people from different parts — Finland, Greece, the UK, Norway, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Norway, Malawi, Germany, Indonisia, Kenya, Ghana, The Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal, Chile, Cuba, and more — I’m finding there are a lot of folks worth admiring.
While having a black President sit in the White House speaks volumes for America, it speaks volumes FOR AMERICA. There’s a lot more there worth admiring than some may want to see.