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Ithaca Resident Reflects on Book Discussion Group with Neighbors

posted Apr 5, 2011, 9:00 PM by MLK Community Build   [ updated Apr 27, 2011, 8:48 PM ]

As a white 58 year old, disabled, low income male, joining with my neighbors who shared an interest in reading Where Do We Go From Here? was a hopeful, inspiring act.  Getting to understand better, together with my neighbors, how racism hurts everyone (including whites) has been a great opportunity. 

This book seemed very relevant to me, and could have been written for today's times, not just for 1967.  Dr. King's vision of a "beloved community" and what forces stand in the way of attaining it, stand out for me.  He affirmed for me that when we learn about the degrading nature of racism, we do not just focus on individual acts of prejudice and bigotry (both overt and more subtle) --- but look also to understanding some of the other ways that racism as a system plays itself out, including how it is incorporated into our institutions that then help to maintain it, despite the good intentions of any individuals. 

It helped me remember that thinking that trying to "not getting involved" or "staying neutral" does not help the situation in a positive way.  In fact doing so just helps the system to continue.  Reading his book was a catalyst for me to read some of Dr. King's other works, including his Vietnam speech at Riverside Church, and his Letter from a Birmingham Jail speech, both of which I found very profound and moving. 

Reading this book together with my neighbors helped me remember how it is possible to work towards actualizing the kind of "beloved community" that we seek.  Thanks to all whose efforts helped make the MLK Build happen.

Dennis Anello
Ithaca NY