Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, a time to remember what’s important and to love, and here I sit listening to NPR talk about the new Thanksgiving. A time of year when Americans now think about the discounted iPad they can get if they just trample over people in line. A holiday season where family and love is forgotten and materialism and greed has taken over.

The show was focusing on how Black Friday, a day of frenzied shopping responsible for deaths in recent years, is now no longer just the day after Thanksgiving, but has crept into dining rooms all over the country leaving them empty at Thanksgiving dinner. Over the past several years more and more shoppers – and don’t forget retail workers that have to leave family to be there – are spending Thanksgiving day in line in front of shopping malls, sleeping in store parking lots and declaring war on their fellow man in the name of Samsung.

It makes my heart hurt.

Since I was a child Thanksgiving was always a time to remember and show love.

We remember and bring to life the food and culture of our family through old recipes.

We remember that, though we still see happy “pilgrims and indians” on the holiday decorations in schools and stores, the true history of that time and those relationships is vastly different than portrayed. We remember and send love to that pain.

We remind ourselves to live gratitude, all year long, for every blessing we have in our lives.

We remember our family and loved ones. We get together with those we can, call or send our love to those we can’t.

We remind ourselves to send love to the suffering and gratitude to those who have provided for us.

We reminisce on holiday memories and make new ones.

This is what this holiday has meant to me for so long. No matter what it means for you, I hope we can all remember the bigger point of this time of year. I hope we can reflect on how we treat each other, what we value in life and how we live on this planet. I hope we can learn to respect, love and give thanks to the Earth, her bounty and each other.

These are my hopes and I am just putting them out there for something to chew on at your dinner table tomorrow. And don’t forget to thank the farmers! 🙂

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I spent my Sunday lying by the ocean here in South Florida, reading one of three books I currently have in rotation, Caucasia by Danzy Senna (the other two are Food Fight and Malcolm X Speaks).  Caucasia is a novel that ventures deep into race from the perspective of a young girl who almost transcends it as she grows up in a biracial family in the 1970s Boston “race wars”.  It’s also the first novel I’ve read by a biracial author, and I find it inexplicably soothing.

In my iPod earbuds, the words of MLK played out in the background – how I was reading and listening, I don’t know… like I said I have three books in rotation, so I guess I’m somewhat of a hopeless multi-tasker – but I thought it fitting, since we just marked the birthday of this great leader, whose words are tragically still relevant today, on Saturday, January 15th.

Some of his words were eerily applicable to the political state we find ourselves in now.

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This made me think specifically of the most current chain reaction of hate we saw and still see pre- and post- Tuscon, and the seemingly endless bickering and finger-pointing we are all guilty of within our own democracy, while trying to give health, food and rights to our own people, and on a grander scale with respect (or lack thereof) to our global neighbors and cultures different from ours.

But it also inspired me to do some digging about this prescient man and what inspired him to want to transcend race like Danzy Senna in Boston, or what moved him to want to help and empower people like I and so many other young activists want to do…and I was surprised to find that MLK had spent some time on a farm during his youth and was inspired by what he found there.

Here are some excerpts from an NPR article on King’s life-changing time in the country up North:

Martin Luther King Jr. could hardly believe his eyes when he left the segregated South as a teenage college student to work on a tobacco farm in Connecticut.

“On our way here we saw some things I had never anticipated to see,” he wrote his father in June 1944. “After we passed Washington there was no discrimination at all. The white people here are very nice. We go to any place we want to and sit any where we want to.”

Byer says King and other students often worked in temperatures that reached 100 degrees or higher. The students, who were earning money to pay for college, made about $4 per day, Byer said. They lived in a dormitory built at the edge of the tobacco field.

Until then, King was thinking of other professions such as becoming a lawyer, Conard-Malley said. But after his fellow Morehouse College students at the tobacco farm elected him their religious leader, he decided to become a minister.

“Perhaps if he hadn’t come to Connecticut, hadn’t picked tobacco up here, hadn’t felt like a free person, hadn’t felt what life was like without segregation and been elected the religious minister, he may not have become such a leader in the civil rights movement,” Conard-Malley said.

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You never know where you’ll find inspiration or what experience may change your life course.  As one of the students from this article, Nicole Byer, who is working on a documentary about King’s life said, “Everything right now influences us. Any small experience can change the direction of what we do right now.”

And when we do decide on what we want to do, I like to remember these words (which seem indispensable to community work and the theme I keep bringing up in the issue of food justice) …

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Happy MLK Day

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