What MLK, Jr. & Boyz in the Hood Means to Me

By Emlyn Lee, Founder

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day! This is one of my favorite holidays, as he is my biggest hero. It is easy to be inspired by a leader that influenced the United States and much of this world with his nonviolent tactics for equality. Many of my personal and professional philosophies are influenced by his principles, in hopes that we, all global citizens, can keep his “Dream” alive, and work together to be a better connected and more united world.

This weekend, I threw my annual MLK Birthday Bash party, which also served as a fundraiser for our H.U.G. projects in Guatemala, Kenya, and Austin, and collected food for our local Austin food bank. I enjoy throwing this annual party, as it is a chance for my different ‘groups’ of friends to come together to connect with one another’s well-being and post-holiday catch-up, and most importantly, to honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My MLK group celebration started back in college. I remember seeing “Boyz in the Hood” in the theaters back in 1991, and thought it was such a great movie. By my Senior year at University of Maryland, I lived in a house with seven housemates, and on MLK day, I would rent the video and invite friends over to watch the movie, and have dinner and drinks. If you have seen “Boyz in the Hood”, you probably know it is not a warm and fuzzy, feel good type of a movie. So why do I continue to watch it on MLK weekend, when we are supposed to be celebrating a man that promotes non-violence, peace, and conflict-resolution? Exactly the point!

We have issues and struggles in our own streets of America, and abroad; but if we continue to ignore society’s problems, and look the other way, hoping that it will resolve itself, or that someone else will deal with it, we’re not being effective human beings. According to Martin Luther King, Jr. “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Watching thought-provoking movies like “Boyz in the Hood,” “Crash,” “Motorcycle Diaries” (my top three movies that I watch all the time) fills me with more frustration, drive and compassion to take a stand and make a difference in this world…my world…our world.

As Ice Cube’s character, Doughboy, says at the end of the film, “Either they (media) don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” I have many more words and opinions of media, especially how it’s changed for the worse since 1991, and may need to share my attitudes and feelings for another series of blogs. But as MLK, Jr. stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I continually believe that until we put our feet in someone else’s shoes, and understand where they are (or were) within their situation, we cannot judge or discriminate against them. We may not see eye-to-eye and agree on opinions, but to be open to and listen to him/her/them, share our thoughts of wisdom and guidance (if applicable and needed), and to be a friend, providing a lending ear, hand, and heart. Because in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., we must ask life’s most persistent and urgent question, “What are you doing for others?”…not just this holiday weekend, but everyday.

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