segunda-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2018

The Dreamer

Today I'm filled with scattered thoughts about Martin Luther King Jr. The man who dreamed and died dreaming, the man who would be in awe of at what his influence accomplished, the man who was so intensely on fire with the mission God gave him, that his words burn still.

The Dreamer.

I remember vividly all those moments where my heritage, my cultural background, became increasingly evident to me. Growing up and being (innocently) teased by cousins because I have "white people hair". My dad disclosing the true reason why I couldn't go to that friend's birthday party, "her parents don't like black people". As a teenager, hanging out with my uncles and aunts, and seeing them ponder "should we show her this...?" Then, calling my parents to ask permission to watch "American History X" with me. The powerful debrief after the movie, a quiet and long conversation into the night. My brain exploding. Listening to my parents' account of their first years in Portugal, of those times when other kids would see them passing by and decide to trow stones at them, while calling them names. Sharing a table and a home with God's people, brothers and sisters from so many different cultures and upbringings. Being embraced by them, witnessing how our differences are so beautiful when they bow down to worship our Lord and Saviour. All the movies, "Django Unchained", "12 Years a Slave", "The Butler", "Hidden Figures", "Selma", "The Help"... that slit my heart, wrenched my guts, brought me to my knees. All the lectures, books, papers, articles, but specially Carson's "Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr". The class discussions with professors and colleagues, as well as the quiet self-reflections, that awakened and shaped me. All the good laughs, and deep conversations with open hearts, about what it means to be black today. All the music, so much music!... at times soothing, but also rocking this unavoidable tension. Not to mention the News, the social media, the current and atrocious accounts of injustice and slavery.

Yes, the thoughts are that messy and hard to extricate. Those occasions, scholar and artistic works, as well as today's events, help me to better understand where I came from, what happened to my ancestors, and how all of that ultimately molds me.

I don't know why I was born in this time. I don't know why I was born in a country with the freedom and privileges I experienced. I don't know why I was able to immigrate to the most multicultural city in the World. I don't know why I don't experience persecution because of my skin colour (unlike many of my family members). I don't know why I was born in a loving and supportive family. I don't know why I was given the privilege of having so many astounding friends, brothers and sisters. I don't know why my support system is comprised of people from several cultural backgrounds, but specially Caucasian. I don't know why I received the gift of sharing this journey with them. I don't know why God showers me with so many blessings...

I don't take my existence for granted. I know it was bought with a price. First, the price of Jesus' blood. Then, the price of the ones that chose abandoned obedience. I wonder if I could live the life I have now, if Martin Luther King Jr. thought about self-care and boundaries as much as I do. I wonder if I could enjoy the amazing gifts and friendships that I have, if his comrades, his wife, and himself hadn't sacrifice their comfort, their time, their tears, reputation... their everything, for the dream.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s work isn't finished yet. Evil still grows rampant, people still hurt each other, racism is still alive. What will I do? Will I give my life to the task Jesus prepared for me, like Dr. King did? Will I give myself to the pursuit of comfort and stability, satisfying my ego? Dr. King's academic work about Gandhi and the use of non-violence to change systemic injustice resulted in a national revolution because he dared to pray: "Lord, how does this knowledge inform my heart, my narrative, my conduct?" Will I do the same with what I have been given, or will I settle for the grades?

"I saw the Dreamer raise his hand for me
Into a world of possibilities 
Into a sky of light and love 
Into a day of tomorrow"

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