“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
On this day, August 28, exactly 59 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke powerful words in his ‘I have a dream’ speech to a crowd of over 200,000 people who gathered to demand an end to racial segregation in the USA. It was also a fight for equality in civil rights and jobs.
When I was in Grade 8, we studied Martin Luther King Jr. ‘I have a dream’ speech and had to write our own version of it. I remember feeling upset that people would judge others by the colour of their skin. Also, I remember feeling ashamed that it still happens today. And, I remember feeling the desire to stand up for these minority groups because I’m part of a minority group too. Although this speech does not relate directly to me, the core message is something we all can learn from, especially when we interact with others.
We live in a multicultural country and we will interact with people of different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds. We will have differences that clash, but we will also have similarities and things we can relate to. However, in the end, we need to be respectful of others and give everyone fair treatment. One should not have limited opportunities because of their appearance, disability, or factors that are out of their control.
No matter how you want to spin it, I am (and always will be) Asian. I am part of a minority group. And unfortunately, we do face discrimination, albeit not as frequent compared to the black community, but it does exist. In school, I’ve been told to “go back to China,” but little did these people know, I was actually born in Canada. Even nowadays, as an editor, I had times when clients preferred to work with someone “more educated” because they saw that I was Asian, they assumed that I have terrible English and grammar since I’m “foreign.”
Unfortunately, I cannot control how others think, but it does get to me sometimes. Though, these experiences help me put things into perspective when I see the struggles that other minority groups face. I know we’ve come a long way from how things used to be, but discrimination and racism still exist. Although I wish for a world where we can all be equal, I also feel it’s a bit unrealistic. People naturally have bias and favourism. We grow up in society being taught what is “normal” and what is “different.” Plus, anyone who might look different from ourselves are seen as a threat to our own identity and culture. I get it. But, it’s just troubling that we can’t look beyond the surface and see beneath – the true character of an individual, what they bring to the table, and how they can make our lives better because of their company and assistance.
Some of closest friends are not Asian, nor are they white. I never looked at someone differently because of the colour of their skin or their physical abilities. I see each person as an individual who is unique, with a story to tell … and I hope that each person can feel comfortable telling me their story so I can accept who they are. Since I have this attitude toward everyone I meet, I feel that I connect best with people who share the same mentality and philosophies so I make connections based on character rather than colour. I wished everyone can approach others in a similar matter. Though, realistically, it’s not possible. But, I can still be hopeful that one day, everyone can be seen as an individual where we embrace our differences and accept how we are unique from one another. Only then can we truly live in a world without discrimination, segregation, and racism.