How to Explain How Far We’ve Come
Today we honor a man whose life was dedicated to tolerance and change. He fought for freedom and equality for everyone. When I was a child, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge inspiration. His work along with other freedom fighters like Medgar Evers helped the change life as we know it in this country. I think most people don’t understand just how profound it is. Dr. King’s work has impacted me so significantly, because prior to his fight, mixed race couples were unaccepted by the masses. As a result, my brother and I probably never would have been born or we would have been shunned by society. A much different experience altogether, I must stress.
My parents took different stances on the significance of our mixed race background. My father, who is Black, always believed my brother and I would be seen as Black. Our background would be overlooked. My mother, on the other hand, believed that we were simply half black and half white. And there was no shame in that. I can honestly say that my mom’s very matter of fact approach was probably the best way to go. Growing up, we were just Kerrie and Cory – not the mixed race kids or the Black kids. And things could have gone either way too. We grew up in southern Orange County during the eighties. There wasn’t a ton of diversity back then. But my brother and I grew up with very strong self images. I’m very grateful.
I struggle with what to explain to Aaliyah. We have come so far from the mistakes of our ancestors. Intolerance still exists, but it too has evolved. I want to share our past with her, so she can help affect change for her future. But I would be lying if I told you I don’t worry about sharing all of history with her. Truth is, I have several years to prepare and decide what to share with her.