Holiday is opportunity to remember where we all came from
It was hard not to be struck by all the national, state and local celebrations of Martin Luther King Day on Monday. Church gatherings, parades, parties, speakers – much of the country had the opportunity to be reminded that ours is a small planet, and celebrating our different races and cultures is far more productive than becoming ethnocentric, and thus hateful and fearful toward those who are “different.”
Besides, we are all different from someone else … which culture and race is the one that is not different?
Save for a few blips on the map, the Carson Valley hardly acknowledged Martin Luther King Day Monday, particularly if one walked through the streets of town that day.
To be fair, there were some wonderful acknowledgements to Dr. King in area schools and churches last week. But Monday, when the television news was full of ceremonies and celebrations taking place across the land, it seemed a bit quiet in the ol’ Carson Valley.
And yet, it’s understandable – this has never been considered a Mecca of multi-cultural diversity, our little Valley. Or has it?
The next time you look over the sea of faces at a Carson Valley public gathering and thank God that it is full of “real Americans,” remember the German immigrants, the Basque and the Danish, who came here in the last century from foreign lands, crowding out the Valley’s residents at the time – the Washoe people.
There may be some who celebrate the fact that we are not now as colorful as other communities – those who have told us they came here from where they lived before and “brought the American flag with them,” but Monday’s events in the rest of the country should stand as a poignant reminder that this country, once proud of its status as the “melting pot of the world,” is still melting.
We love our ethnic foods and clothing, don’t we? Count the Italian, Mexican and Chinese restaurants here, and you’ll only have a handful of eateries left over.
A century-and-a-half ago, Washoe Tribe members might have been heard to say, as they moved to one end of the Valley to get away from all the new immigrants, that they were “taking the American flag with him.”
Our children and grandchildren are venturing out into that big, colorful world every day and it’s important to send them off with love and tolerance in their hearts rather than hate and intolerance. We’ll all live longer and happier that way.
To publically celebrate racial equality for one day of the year, on Jan. 15, is one thing, but to be a parental and community model of tolerance, maturity and celebration of the amazing diversity of the human species can take place the other 364 days of the year and do a lot more good in the long run.
It’s a big, colorful world out there and our children deserve to go there embracing that.
Linda hiller is a staff writer for The Record-Courier.
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