Burying Dr. King’s Dream

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“Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 20th for many in the States is a day of sleeping in, catching that movie on the “must see list,” and spending about 30 minutes thinking of the momentous impact of the life Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although this is a testament to how far the U.S. has come from the painful pre-Civil Rights Movement, it also illustrates how well the mainstream has been able to downplay the conversation about race in the States and making it seem that we have become a “post-racial” society; especially when it comes to discussing the Millennial generation.

With the continuing existence of “yolo” culture, living a life of excess is not only presented as desirable, but attainable. With an 11.1% unemployment rate of 20-24 year olds, recent college grads are left in this drastic gap between the new American dream and reality. Most T.V. shows, movies, and music focus exclusively on the experience of the upper to upper middle class white demographic (a la Real Housewives or the Kardashians) or objectify the honest struggles of lower middle to lower class Americans (a la Teen Mom). With such an overload of superficial mainstream media, where is the space for showing a bit of the honest American experience, peppered with some people who are the new face of the United States?

By masking the reality of the life of the minority in the United States, we are burying the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In reality, he was just a member of a thousand person, decades long movement. However, his ability to move all kinds people to action created the catalyst the movement needed to end segregation and ultimately move the United States to a more equal society.

But what does this have to do with today’s conversation about race? Today, prejudice has evolved from violent crimes to more subtle exclusions from jobs, social gatherings, and justice. Just look to the reaction towards the recent verdict of the Trayvon Martin case to understand how deep are the wounds of modern racism in the United States. But much like every other major news story, it has faded away something that would surely disappoint Dr. King.

What is encouraging is the openness in which the Millennial generation approaches the discussion of race and diversity in the United States. Even though it doesn’t immediately change policy, talking about what it means to be a minority has the potential to change a mind at a time. Better representation in the media is slowly providing stronger role models to help frame the aspirations of younger generations. Change is painfully slow and requires constant attention or else we risk repeating our history.

ImageTallahassee, Florida 1963 – a demonstration outside a segregated theater.

The Wall Finally Broke: The Lessons I Learned From Failing

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Last week, I learned about the law of attraction and how if you put something out into the universe, the universe will respond. Now, I totally thought this was a load of bull because, let’s be real, we are the masters of our own destiny …. right? Well, a couple Tuesdays ago I was lamenting to a friend of mine about how depleted I felt because I was so miserable at my job. I equated it to banging my head against a wall and the wall was showing no sign of damage nor was it causing enough pain that it would force me to stop. It was only a matter of time until one of them did. The next day, my boss called me in for a heart to heart. By the end of the conversation and a parting of ways was settled upon. Day after that, I happened upon a free week long teleconference by Christine Hassler that brought together experts on how to “upgrade” the various aspects of your life.

Call it coincidence or call it the power of the law of attraction, either way I found myself recuperating from the all too common challenge that all people, especially 20-somethings face: failure. Learning how to overcome and build back better from failure is crucial to succeeding in life, especially for those of us who aspire to be influential in this world. It is not enough to have excellent ideas or develop a beautiful vision, but truly successful leaders know how to learn from failing. I have seen this advice given by several thought leaders, and often thought about how that could possibly relate to me.

Reflecting back on my professional experience, I realized that I struggled to bring the best version of myself to work and allowed myself to fall into a vortex of misery and whining. I avoided making new friends and focused solely on how I was stuck in this awful situation with no solution. As awful as it was, I can now say I learned so much about myself and what parameters I need to be successful.  Some of those parameters are: a supportive and positive work environment, the sun (I guess you really can’t take Florida out of the girl), and the ability to connect with diverse cultures.

What about you? How did you overcome a failure and what lessons did you learn from that experience? What are some parameters that you need to be successful?