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MLK Day: What it Means To Us

Eugene Lee, Opinions Editor

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On the third Monday of January each year, Martin Luther King Day is celebrated. MLK day marks the birth of Dr. King and honors his efforts in conducting nonviolent activism throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Although MLK is familiar to the majority of the American populace, it is not a household name in other countries. It made me question why MLK day was not well known in Korea and why social justice issues went untalked about back at home. Perhaps it was because Asians were the majority in Korea. We could never really harm anyone racially; we were inside our own bubble talking and joking about things that didn’t really offend us.

 

It wasn’t really until I moved to Australia that I started to really get into social justice and the idea of equal rights. Thinking back at it now, I realize that it wasn’t so much that I became  mature enough to handle these subjects. Rather, it was because I wasn’t apart of the majority anymore. I was labelled, “exotic”.

 

MLK Day means acceptance and the recognition of differences in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. It is the elimination of discriminatory thoughts and coming together as a group, so that we may have a more equal society. For me, MLK Day has always been a day when I could be proud of who I was and see how privileged I was.

 

The day instigates a sense of vigilance against social discrimination, which really inspires us to look beyond the surface of racism, but go in depths to exploring other factors like gender and socioeconomic hierarchies. But whilst MLK Day does all these great things at CA, it doesn’t really seem to talk about the Asian community that much.

 

While the majority of international students at CA come from Asian countries, every year, MLK focuses on racism against black people and how they have been unequally treated or how the LGBTQIAPK community is being segregated. These are all important things to talk about, however, the segregation against Asian communities hasn’t been frequently talked about during these days.

 

Sure, we talk about differences and how the Asian community has had a significant impact in the music, tech and banking industries. We acknowledge those facts, but we never seem to talk about how we’ve been segregated elsewhere. A couple of weeks ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post about an elderly Korean woman who was assaulted by a woman screaming “white power”. This example is, by no means, the first time that such open discrimination happened against Asians. Michael Luo the Deputy Metro Editor for the New York Times and his family were told to “go back to China”. Or what about the case of NYPD police officer, Peter Liang?
Looking back, I have also been the victim of racist physical and verbal assault. But, I’m sure that I was not the only one. I knew countless other people, my friends and family members, who have had their eyes squinted at, been called a “chink”, and been told to go back to where they came from. My wish is that someday, we will have an opportunity to address these issues and talk about them. Perhaps, in the future, this could exist as part of MLK day.

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MLK Day: What it Means To Us