Love’s Legacy | Why MLK Day Matters in Literature

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK


Yesterday was the revered day of service known as Martin Luther King Day, which, in this day and age of hashtags, is #MLKDay2020. Growing up in the 80s and Black, all I understood about the day was that I didn’t have school and that I’d get to hear Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday”. When I went to a predominantly Black, private middle school for fifth through eighth grade, Ivy Leaf Middle School, MLK Day was a kickoff leading up to Black History Month in February. It was during these years at Ivy Leaf where I learned to be proud of my heritage as a member of the Black/African American community. It is also where I broadened my understanding of what this great man truly stood for. Yes, he stood for equality. But there was more to it than that.

With his activism imploring all of humanity to see each other as brothers and sisters of one race instead of these silly man made differences that only tear us apart because we keep judging one another out of insecurity or a false need for superiority, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied the quote above. This is what I strive to do every day. There are days when I don’t and that’s okay. That’s where Savannah comes in.

In my previous post, Hell’s Handbag, I talked about some of the reasons for creating Savannah. One of the most important reasons for her existence in my fictional world was to help me to remember that while I’m not perfect, I should love myself. All of me. These days, so many self-proclaimed spiritual teachers and gurus preach about positivity and self-care. However, what many miss in those quick minute long IG videos and Internet memes is the part about self-love. I believe that a big reason for my own poor mental health once upon a time was due to a lack of self-love. Savannah gets so caught up in people pleasing and false positivity (re: avoidance) that she doesn’t acknowledge her own darkness and self-hatred (internalized homophobia among other issues). Rather, she tries to utilize ‘darkness’ (sleeping with a married pastor) as opposed to trying to understand who she really is. She never gets therapy. She never took meds. She doesn’t even want to talk about anything with her best friend, Ruby, who tries to get her to face what make her uncomfortable, so she can deal with it and move forward. Savannah, of course, can’t see the beam of light being cast on her own shadows because it’s too blinding (uncomfortable). She instead takes matters into her own hands.

In my work in progress, or #WIP, I do write about how Savannah’s choice impacts her community while introducing new characters and situations. There are many people worldwide that deal with similar issues. Part of my duty, I feel, as an author is to help everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. to see the commonalities we all share as humans. The only way to do that is to have uncomfortable discussions that shed light on the shadowy demons that lurk in our shared human existence. This act, too, is an act of love.

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