[Op Ed] Martin Luther King, Obama and My Parents
1 year ago
One woman explains why she is extra emotional this weekend
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of Loop 21.
If you would like to submit an Op-Ed for publication please submit to email@example.com.
Last summer I had the pleasure of bringing my parents to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial down on the mall. It was a moving, if extremely hot, day for us, where things sort of came full circle for us. My parents weren’t born in the US. They chose to move here in the 50’s when things were, shall we say, not great for black people. They become naturalized citizens, raised three kids here and only recently returned to their home country to retire. But I’d say that my parents, for all their embarrassing Caribbean ways during my teenage years (that’s another op-ed), are about as American as you get. Because they believed almost more than anyone else I’ve known in the American Idea. The idea that no matter who you are, if you put your head down and work, you should be able to make a decent life for yourself and your family.
That’s not to say that they didn’t face their fair share of racism when they moved here; they certainly did. From the employers who didn’t believe my dad’s qualifications for jobs, to the ones who wanted nothing to do with him until they heard his accent (“oh, you’re not from here. OK”); to the real estate agents who kept pushing my parents to certain neighborhoods, to one of my neighbors who tried to get the rest of our neighbors to sign a petition to keep us from moving into our house. Life in the US definitely had its moments.