America is still deciphering and contemplating Dr. Martin Luther King’s message in 2012, or at least looking to understand it. If the only message you gleaned out of it was that black people demanded equality, then please, revisit the link below. There’s grit in the job search. I’m hoping you will glean it from his letter.
Dr. King’s ability to communicate across the color lines is a model for all of us. I look at Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham jail with awe, and admiration—eloquence, courage, and vision. This was an answer to eight white clergymen who wrote, “A Call to Unity” to temper and to stop the protest portions of Dr. King’s appeal, largely because the result of the marches ended with violence. His ability to communicate and respond with poise and persuasion captures the strands of my intellect and emotions. From this, I was able to extract some points of my own, applicable to the job hunt, or anything else:
Answer questions with tact, and without airing frustration
By addressing all questions asked, you earn attention and respect. Dr. King answered every issue addressed in the letter (keep in mind this was the only draft he wrote). It frustrates most people, and it drains the answerer’s credibility. This is the hardest for most people, that is, asking an unanswered question several times. It is more of an indictment when he or she passively refuses to answer a direct question.
Make the best of having less
Dr. King wrote the letter on the margins of newspaper, scraps of paper, and eventually a pad that his lawyers were permitted to leave him (the letter was smuggled out of jail). Unlike today’s culture, he did not curse, did not sarcastically engage in name calling, or retaliation of any type. He did not retaliate with inappropriate sarcasm. His letter to me was grammatically perfect, eloquent, factual, and honest. He used facts. We may not have the best of every skill, but we should bring the best to the fore front of every opportunity. The facts. It is not bragging when it’s the facts. It’s persuasion, a lost art that has lost its essence. Check the grammar once more, examine your heart once more, and find your reason to remain resilient until you succeed.
Understand the unsolicited arguments of why you can’t
I don’t know why there are people who open doubt others wish for change other than jealousy, lack of faith, or the willingness to understand. We can look at Dr. King as he was told to stop marching, protesting, and being indifferent to injustice. In essence, he was told by his fellow clergymen give being abused for freedom. His fellow ministers plead, ”
… we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely. We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation in our area.
Dr. King answered this statement with understanding of his peers,
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters;
There are time people will question your abilities, will, or lack of demonstration to succeed. You can only answer and validate your desire is by success. Until then, embrace those who question out of love and concern. If he or she fits that category, embrace them, because they will appreciate you more when you succeed, and will tell you the truth when you get off track.
Convinced of why he must
Dr. King prepared everyone for the worse. As I would say, jobseekers would need to prepare for the worse from a place that will prepare for success. And, the worse does not have to be you. But I digress. Dr. King thought carefully how to endure physical, mental, and verbal abuse and wondered how others with him will respond.
We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”
Are you prepared for the hardest part of your search? Is it the training? Is it your background? Do you fear failing? Unfortunately, job seekers look to careers that are easier to obtain, achieve, and train. Is it really a satisfying and fulfilling if it’s easy?
I grew in Harlem and Washington Heights, parts of New York that were high in crime, but abundantly rich in diversity and culture. I lived in the Bridge Apartments where Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans Jews, Greeks, Blacks, and Whites lived peacefully, well, at least most of the time.
My second through sixth grade classes also had a diverse mix of students. My friend Miguel and I went to the same church. My friend Derek and his Mom bought me homework when I was sick. When my Stepmother told me that there was a distinct difference between black and white people was when I first noticed who Derek and Miguel were…my friends.
I regret looking at the world in black and white, and times I suffered when racial indifference were obstacles. I am glad that someone told me that there were obstacles to hurdle, sidestep, and avoid. And no one said it was easy.