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That Which Binds - Love or Hate

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ~ MLK, Jr.

Public schooling, field trips, and living in a diverse city helped mold me into the woman I am. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change was one of the most impactful field trips of my schooling. I credit the King Center for helping to break the cycle of racism in my family. The murder of Martin Luther King Jr. did not end the struggle for a more just society. Today, we honor his legacy, recharge for the fight ahead, and reflect on past victories. Thank you to Coretta Scott King and their children, who refused to accept Dr. King’s erasure and everyone who is working toward the “Beloved Community”.


It took a long time for me to understand how racist ideas and hatred can permeate a person’s psyche so intensely that they become a monster. My father said he was “color blind” but he seemed to get extra angry at black people — just for existing. My mom said that she didn’t judge people by their skin color but she made us lock the car doors every time there were black people around. My paternal grandmother talked about God’s love but reserved it for only those who looked like her.

When I fell in love with a Black man, my family was not pleased but I underestimated the amount of hate in their hearts. Our bi-racial child was born in 2008, two months before Barack Obama was elected President. By his birth, most of my family had stopped returning my calls or opening their doors when I visited. My paternal grandfather would not even look at my beautiful baby boy. When I complained, he snarled, “You’re lucky I let you into my house at all”. They believed that I committed a moral failing and had shamed my family.

Initially, I was devastated. People I loved, admired, and spent summers with were cruel to me and my child. That winter was full of talk about “post-racial America” as if a miracle had occurred but my family and their friends were definitely not done judging someone according to their skin color. Eventually, I realized that loss can become opportunity. My son wouldn’t have to deal with his racist Great-Grandfather or listen to his Great Uncle rant about the downfall of America. That trauma would not be heaped upon his shoulders — we were free. Free to choose our own family. Free from hatred. Free to help create The Beloved Community.

Written by Teresa English

January 17, 2022

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