Martin Luther King Jr. Day just happened and it really got me thinking about things. I heard lots of talks about race and ethnicity, and there were film clips on TV showing the peace marches and brutality that was all part of the Civil Rights Movement. To me, that was a long time ago. To my parents and elder family members, that was something they lived through. I benefit from all the struggle and fight for equality and diversity that many have fought for years and years. I know that without all of that toil, I probably wouldn’t be a dental hygienist or writing this right now.
I think we have come pretty far compared to where we once were. However, I live in liberal free-love Sonoma County California. I’ve lived in other places like Boston and Chicago where you can literally cross the street and see and feel the divide in races, attitudes towards other races and see how money and socio-economics affect how people live. Prejudice against Blacks, Asians (I could even add Hispanics to this), runs deep in this country. To say racism is dead is not true. It is kept alive and well in the hearts and minds of people who feel more comfortable creating and keeping divides. It was even present recently when a Cheerio’s commercial was taken off the TV because it featured a mixed race family and the messages of hate and bigotry prompted them to stop airing it -momentarily.
I am a mixed race person. My mother is African American. Her grandmother was grew up on an Indian Reservation and her Grandfather was a slave. My dad is an immigrant from Germany. They got Jungle Fever in the late 70s and I was born. They are still together 35 years later but talk like their relationship is an oddity (they don’t get out of their comfort zone much). Growing up in San Francisco I was always around people from other places and who were different races. It’s no big deal to me…but then again, I just get to be me. People can’t figure me out. Is she black? Is she white? Is she Brazilian or latina? Some are afraid to ask, others are curious and just stare at me trying to figure it out. Others brush me off and make assumptions based on stereotypes. In a world where people like to categorize and assume stereotypes are true, I know how hard it can be to break through some people’s ignorance.
Dr. Lieu and I have directly benefitted from programs that help aspiring black kids, immigrant kids, even native American kids (I am 1/16th Siuox-we think). What I realized this MLK day, was without the Civil Rights movement that probably wouldn’t have been a possibility. Non-whites were limited in the kinds of jobs they could have. Even if you were intelligent, you were not allowed to go to college or move up to certain better paying jobs. Without Dr. King, I couldn’t have gone to school to be a Dental Hygienist. My husband couldn’t have gone to school to be a Dentist. We couldn’t have been business owners. We wouldn’t be allowed to be in positions to help others or inspire others to be great members of society.
So that’s why I say “Thank You” and encourage all my readers to have a real, open conversation about race with you family members or friends. You might be surprised what comes up. At any rate, if you are reading this, you probably are fans of me or Dr. Lieu. We appreciate all of our patients and all of your support. Without you believing in us and loving what we do, we wouldn’t be attracting more fabulous people like you! It is our goal to always treat people with respect and kindness and not judge anyone based on color, creed, or what your clothes look like. We see wealthy people who look like bums, and people with no money and no credit who dress to the nines. It isn’t fair for us to decide what someone does or doesn’t want based on assumptions about how much money they do or don’t have. We are here to provide you with great, high quality dentistry, and maybe also a laugh and a smile and a box of truffles. 😉
Peace and Love my friends.