Subtle celebration showcases progress

By: Abrena Rowe ~Opinions and Editorial Editor~

As I was headed to bed last night, it hit me that I didn’t participate in any formal acknowledgement of Martin Luther King Day. I didn’t post anything on social media, I didn’t participate in the march downtown and I barely engaged in any enlightening conversations about the meaning behind this day.

Reflecting on my lack of celebration, I was a little disappointed in myself. But then I reflected on the rest of my day.

I woke up in my room on campus Monday morning in a space provided to me by a private institution where I can count on one hand the different times I have felt unsafe in that room over the past three combined years of my sister’s and my residence.

1Outside of my room were three White girls whom I’ve grown to known over the past few months, who I believe love me as unconditionally as I love them, who don’t see me as being different because of the color of my skin.

I was able to publicly hang out with a friend for four uninterrupted hours. Not once did anyone who passed us look at us sideways, yell slurs or threaten us for being together. No one said anything, in fact, because the sight of Whites and Blacks being together in public has been normalized in our society.

Afterward, I was able to safely return to my room where my three roommates greeted me with disappointment that matched my own following the result of Monday’s basketball game.

Later in the day I had a meeting with my fellow BSA co-chairs and president discussing our plans for events for Black History Month to bring awareness to the club and our existence at this majority White private institution where I’m blessed enough to receive an education.

Then I ended the night studying and watching The Bachelor with another group of all-White friends, who also love me to the moon and back as I love them.

I am not here to say everything has been accomplished and there is no more work to be done when it comes to race relations in America. There is so much more to be done, to be talked about and areas to see progress.

But today with the events of the past week in my head, I am pretty pleased with the way things are, compared to how they could be if I was a 20-year-old college student 50 years ago.

Chances are I wouldn’t be able to room with the people I currently live with, and the other aforementioned people would probably not be as near and dear to my heart and vice versa.

I think it’s safe to say that an overwhelmingly number of people have felt the past year or so has been a glaring example of all the work that still needs to be done. Some might even say the past year has been a display of progress being dismantled.

At a time in our country’s history when it feels like there have been several crucial steps backward after it appeared there was significant progress, it’s nice to be able to reflect on my day and see that the progress that’s taken place is still moving forward.

Abrena Rowe is a junior psychology major and the Opinions and Editorial editor for the Newswire from Cincinnati.

So no, I did not actively go out of my way to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, but in a way, I celebrated by going about my normal routine. Living the life I have been blessed with exemplifies that Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream was not a farfetched fairytale.

The progress that has taken place over the last 50 years is evident in my life. Thinking about it all, the parts of my life I have mapped out in this article seem trivial and small, but there are people alive today, people I am related to, who couldn’t even imagine living the life I live.

Sometimes I don’t realize how lucky I am to live in a day and age where I can live a day like this year’s MLK Day and not have to fear for my life and the lives of those who choose to spend time with and love me.

Monday was a great day and another great example of how MLK’s dream is coming true. Obviously, his dream is not 100 percent reality just yet, looking at the event that will take place on Friday, but it’s closer to becoming our reality now more than ever.