MLK Day celebration creates platform for students

Michelle Wei, Blogger

To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at Masters, community members voiced opinions and thoughts of activism in the spirit of Dr. King. Celebrated on the two weekdays leading to MLK Day, students and faculty presented an array of speeches, song, poems, dances, stories, and videos for discussion about a variety of topics.

In MLK’s remembrance, students and faculty channeled his spirit to leave themselves vulnerable and talk about conflicts personal to them. Themes of privilege, Islamophobia, transphobia, gender equality, sexual harassment, freedom of speech, yellow peril, colorism, derogatory terms, censorship, socioeconomic class, and more were apparent throughout the different presentations.

Something that stood out to me especially was June Kitahara’s “Dear Color, From Color” speech, probably because I identify with it the most. In her speech, she explains the model minority stereotype and how this stereotype has been used to set a rift between people of color. The speech moved me because it was genuine and I could relate to the stories June told of how she started to understand her Asian-American identity in a white man’s world.

Another presentation that stood out to me was “Microaggressions at Masters” by the Diversity Ambassadors. During the presentation, Diversity Ambassadors read stories submitted by members of the Masters community of times when they have experienced subtle racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. A Diversity Ambassador myself, I helped with the brainstorming of the plan but I didn’t submit or read any stories. Hearing what people submitted during the celebration opened my eyes, and I hope other people’s eyes as well. Masters is such a great place but there are so many areas that need improvement. We often criticize the outside for various reasons, but that outward criticism can also apply to problems within our own walls. Microaggressions are apparent within the school community and I hear them often. People often brush off the feelings they feel because “it’s not a big deal”. Students don’t expect other students to react angrily to microaggressions because they’re seen as too small and pesky to address as a problem. However, changing the little things is a start and will alter the culture.

All in all, the MLK Day celebrations need to continue to be a safe space for vulnerabilities and open hearts and discussion. By acknowledging issues outside of Masters and seeing how they reflect in our community or how our community can react to those issues, we widen our view and enable us to change our school for the better. Aside from how our school can change for the better, it helped me realize some of the occurrences in other countries around the world. Especially with “Dispossessed: The Working Poor”, which explored socio-economic issues in different countries like Brazil and China,  “Conciencia y Representacion”, which explored the various issues in Latin America, I see how these issues personally affect members within our community and on a larger scale. I’m looking forward to MLK Day celebrations in the next school year.