Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MLK Day

I know Martin Luther King Jr's birthday was celebrated yesterday (Monday), not today but I am writing this post on Monday. Besides, his birthday is actually on January 15.

This morning (by that I mean Monday the 19th) we drove down to J-Town to check out the beginning of Mitsuwa Market's 50% off sale that lasts this week after which the market at that location will close forever.

More than three blocks from the market, traffic was all backed up. Could it be due to the sale? Naw.. being that we were in the downtown area I figured the jam was caused by construction or just general traffic problems even though today was a holiday.

But as we pulled closer to the store, we could see that indeed the cause of the tie-up were cars waiting to enter the parking lot. Then we saw a long - and I mean long - line of people lined up outside of the market. This was nearly an hour after they opened so it wasn't like they were waiting for the doors to open; the market must have been so crowded that they had to limit access. Good thing these weren't Wal Mart shoppers!

After we saw that, we said forget it. 50%, 90% off, even 100% off it wasn't worth it. We went to go visit my folks at Keiro for a little while then drove over to Phillipe's for a french dip sandwich. I was surprised - coffee was only 9 cents. It's $5.35 for a sandwich, which relatively speaking isn't too bad a tariff.

Unlike the day JFK was assassinated, I don't remember what I was doing when I heard the news that Dr. King had been shot. I do remember the day after, however. Worried about possible race retaliation, the vice principal at our junior high school took the ONLY white kid in the school home in his car.

I remember being a little bit scared even though no one gave me any cause for alarm. Even so, I walked home with one of my Jones brother buddies, Michael, that day.

That unfortunate event happened nearly 41 years ago. Hard to believe it has been that long. 41 years later, this country will inaugurate its first African American president and I believe a good part of this was enabled by Dr. King's efforts. Now I look forward to the day when a person's race or ethnicity makes no difference and we don't look upon their being honored as a big "achievement" for a group of people, but instead look at the individual and what he or she stands for.

When I first started watching Mr. Obama, I had no doubt that one day he would be our president. He just looks and acts.. presidential. In many ways he reminds me of my other Jones buddy in junior high, Alan. There's just something about people that tells you they are going to be successful.

Anyway, even though I didn't vote for Obama, I wish him well and am glad that this "barrier" on race has been broken. Going forward I hope we can evaluate people as individuals and not apply group stereotypes to anyone.




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