Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This day was created to honor the memory of Dr. King and his message of acceptance and tolerance. However, are we honoring his memory and message? An argument could be made that no we are not honoring him or his message. In fact, you can say we have forgotten his message. On Monday schools will be closed in honor of Martin Luther King Day. However, when I mention to children and teenagers that they have a holiday on Monday, many kids are surprised. In fact, many kids do not even know why we have a holiday on Monday. How are we honoring the life and message of Martin Luther King, if students have no idea why they are having a holiday? Additionally, we have men and women in the Congress continuing to argue how we need to secure our southern border because “Mexican” immigrants are bringing drugs and crime into our country. The emphasis is on our southern border. The Congress doesn’t seem to worry about our Northern border or the thousands of people who enter our Country via planes and cruise ships. They appear not to worry about the immigrants and tend to focus on the “Mexican” immigrants. If we continue to view the world in this manner, are we remembering and honoring the memory and message of Martin Luther King?

Also let’s look at what is happening in our Country. Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Transgender individuals and minorities in general (CDC). Many Asian Americans are afraid to leave their homes and walk on the streets. They are afraid of being attacked by someone on the street because some people are blaming Asian Americans for Covid. Attacks on Jewish Temples and Anti-Semitic violence has been significantly increasing every year for several years now. Many Jewish Americans have been attacked and killed in Temples and Synagogues for no reason except they are Jewish. The Transgender and Transsexual communities are also afraid to go out and socialize because many of their clubs have been targets of mass shootings and many people have been killed senselessly (CDC). Again, how are we honoring Dr. King’s memory and legacy, if people are afraid to leave their homes and live their lives because they might be killed for being themselves.

Finally, the biggest point showing we are not honoring Dr. King is our elections. Many Southern States changed their voting laws for the 2022 election. A majority of these laws made it very difficult and almost impossible for every African American to cast their vote. Instead of moving forward, we have been moving backwards especially in the South. The changes are making voting for African Americans look like it did during the 1950s. Limiting the hours they can vote and making it illegal to give people waiting in line to vote a drink of water. What are we doing making it illegal to give someone a drink of water. Many older people or people with health issues need more water especially if they are standing in line for hours. The new voting laws were making people choose between exercising their right as an American to vote or taking care of their health. What type of choice is this? I am sure Dr. King never was advocating for laws such as these laws. In fact, he was advocating against these type of laws and that every person deserves to be treated with dignity regardless of their race, creed or sexual orientation.

If we are not honoring his message, what are we teaching children born after the year 2000? These children never had a chance to be exposed to Dr. King’s message nor have they seen the discrimination that has occurred in the past. Many teenagers are wearing shirts or getting tattoos with racist symbols. Many of these teens have no idea what these symbols really mean. For many people we have felt we made a great deal of progress in our country regarding race relations. In fact, we had an African-America President. Therefore, some people have felt we did not need to teach children about past discrimination. However, we need to go further with education in the United States. I attended UC Berkeley and I took an American history class taught by a leading expert in United States history. I was never taught about the African American Wall Street and how it was destroyed. I was suppose to be getting one of the best educations in the Country because I was attending one of the best Universities in the Country. However, my education failed to address very important issues regarding race that I should have been educated about. If I did not receive a complete education regarding issues related to race and I attended one of the top Universities in the Country, what are other students receiving?

However, discrimination based on race, color, creed, sexuality and physical ability is very much alive in the United States. We do need to teach children about Hitler and the Holocaust. We also need to teach children about the White Supremest. We need to educate our children about their message and their symbols they use. We also need to educate children about how easily these people can come back and that discrimination still exist in the United States.

Dr. King’s message was to accept everyone and respect their human dignity. We have no right to judge someone based on race, color, creed, sexuality or physical ability. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated respectfully. He did point out that there are people who will decide to judge and hate others based on differences. Dr. King, like Ghandi before him, pointed out that we accept these people too. They are still people even though they are choosing to be cruel to others.

While he told people to acknowledge these people as human beings, he did not say to accept their hate. His message, like Ghandi, was nonviolence. You can accept the person without being cruel to them because of their message. Dr. King believed the power of love is stronger than the power of hate. Finding away to accept and love those who judge you is the strongest way of fighting the hate in their hearts.

If we look around, this message is still be taught to children. As adults we need to reinforce it. The Disney movie Frozen is an example. In the movie it teaches children how if someone does not feel love they will act out and make poor decisions. It also teaches that “love will thaw.” In other words, love is a stronger force than hate and can eliminate hate. This movie also looks at judging people based on differences. So here is a modern day example of Dr. King’s message. Love and acceptance will triumph over hate. As adults we need to reinforce this message to our children.

It is very important that we do so at this time in our country. We have people killing people due to the color of the skin, their religion or sexuality. This is not what Dr. King was teaching us. We have people in our government who want to treat people differently because of their color, religion or sexuality. Again this is not Dr. King’s message. Dr. King did not want us to hate these people either. He encouraged all of us to accept and love each other. Love can triumph over hate. It has in the past and it can again.

Therefore, in order to honor Dr. King and his message sit down with your children and teenagers and educate them about Dr. King’s message. Love is stronger than hate. I have included one of his quotes at the top of this blog that you can use.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience treating teenagers and children. He is also one of the founding members of the National Alive and Free Board. For more information regarding his work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page www.facebook.com/drrubino3.

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