21 March 2013
In the works “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “First Practice” by Gary Gildner and finally “A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr all focus on the ideas of overcoming differences in religion, culture, race, morals and ideologies. Last Thursday I attended a key note presentation call "The Post Racial Blues" and it was about how Martin Luther King’s letter, “A letter from a Birmingham Jail” affected the Civil Rights movement and post Civil Rights. All of the works previous mentioned have a theme of diversity in people that the authors fully understand are based on their upbringings, culture and religious beliefs. Martin Luther King tried to change the culture around him for the better, to be more accepting and understanding, just as the authors Mukherjee, Sharipo, Hague and Gildner tell their stories to adjust the culture around them.
The two short stories assigned this week “A Father” and “Serving up Hope” are about accepting people for who they are and not making assumptions about them based on their past. “A Father” is about a Hindu husband with an agnostic wife and a daughter, greatly influenced by American culture, who all find faults with in each other. The wife and daughter think the father spends too much time praying, the husband is frustrated the his wife does not understand or share in his beliefs and the daughter, twenty-six and unmarried, decides to have a baby through a needle and sperm. When the mother and father find out what the daughter has done, the mother is ashamed and attacks her daughter with a rolling pin (sounds like something racists would do to the black community), but the father was more accepting. At first the father was afraid that the baby came from a white man and the baby would not be the grandchild he wanted but once it became reality he was more accepting of his daughter. “Serving up Hope” is an inspiring story about an ex-addict who opens a small coffee shop and only hires ex-convicts or ex-addicts like himself. He understood the severity of the job he was taking on but he wanted to give people the second chance he deserve. Like the Hindu father, he was serious about his work but he also embraced people who were different that others would usually through to the side.
The poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice” may not be about serious topics of racism, being counter cultural or accepting people for who they are but they are about responsibility and lessons of maturity learned through something everyone does. Everyone dreads it but have to take the SATs, everyone has that first practice with the most intense coach and depending how one handles it, everyone takes away lessons from the experiences. In his letter, King urges people to learn from what they see, hear and experience in order to make a better world around them. In King's time every white man would encounter a black man and every black man would encounter a white man, King asked that you choose to not treat each other differently because the color of their skin but to learn from experience and grow to appreciate one another for who they are.
Martin Luther King Jr’s letters, speeches and ideas still greatly impact our world today the the key note speaker even said we have a hagiographic way of viewing him. King did not want to be viewed as a saint he wanted a better, more equal world that everyone could peacefully live in. The works covered give a wide variety of inequality and diversity in religion, culture, race, morals and ideologies as did MLK in his life.