For the past 2.5 weeks or so, I took this amazing nutrition class – I knew most of the stuff taught, but the teacher was amazing and it really made me rethink how I eat and how I need to eat better. I do eat a varied diet, but I know I don’t eat enough vegetables and I tend to err on the side of eating too much refined sugar, flour and rice. The family is a little bit in shock, I bring up switching to brown rice, and I’ve introduce Japanese yams and sardines to dinner. Vince especially is a little bit exasperated – he now loves the nights he cooks because he can cook burgers on a white bun with tater tots and ketchup.
As the nutrition class was a full semester in 10 days, it was full of assignments due every day including a presentation with a partner. I was paired with a new immigrant from Ethiopia – a nice guy, hard worker and was a lawyer in Ethiopia; here he’s starting over, trying to get into the medical field to support himself – everything is harder when you have no money – there’s no car, no printer at home, no funds to repair a broken computer and the list goes on and on. At the end of class one day, he asked me, “Why to people run away from me? or cross the street to get away from me?, Why do they ignore me even if I am smart and have something to contribute?” I sighed and told him that he was in a tough spot as a young, black man in America – that racism still existed, even in a diverse community like DC, and that the situation was complicated and distressing. And that I could not begin to tell him what it must be like to be young, black man in America. So on this MLK day – I am celebrating the progress that America has made (there is a black man in the Oval Office which is, of course, an amazing thing), but we still yet have a ways to go.