Today marks this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King day. Governments and many businesses are closed today to let citizens reflect on MLK’s contribution throughout his civil rights movement.

Many ponder on this day on what Dr. King would do, had he not been assassinated in 1968 and is still alive today facing the challenges of our time. Many children at our schools are asked to write and present the current day version of his famous “I’ve a dream” speech.

No, I’m not going to write such a speech to address the apparent social gaps we have between various groups in our neighborhood. During the past November campaign, I had several opportunities to talk to our neighbors on this and covered the issue in this post.

The extreme racial segregation that Dr. King fought hard during the civil rights era may have gone now, but we do have social gaps between various groups in our ever changing communities – between Latinos and non-Latinos, between students and landlords, between immigrants and non-immigrants. Let’s all recognize that.

The only way to bridge that gap is to “communicate” – to reach out.

And reaching out to the other sides needs means  finding places or events where neighbors of different groups and ethnic origins can get together. 

There have been suggestions of launching major annual multi-ethnic events, or even several small block parties, in addition to the existing avenues we have – such as monthly meeting at the NCPCA. I’d like to be part of organizing events such as these, as much as I can.

However what is more importantly needed, is a true desire and attitude of reaching out to our fellow neighbors. Instead of expecting the other side coming to us , let’s go out and talk to the other side. Here are two examples that should give some hints what I’m talking about.

(1) If we attend the NCPCA monthly meeting at Davis Hall, let’s find and sit next to someone who we don’t know. Let’s say ‘Hi’, introduce ourselves, let’s find more about him or her. This should eliminate kind of suspicion many of us had the past about the fellow members.

(2) If we’re part of a Neighborhood Watch program, let’s make a habit of going door to door introducing ourselves to our neighbors. Let’s exchange our contact information. Let’s talk a little about the neighborhood that we both share.

These are only two examples. I’m sure we can be creative in finding more avenues such as these to reach out to the other sides.

Our inability in reaching out to  the other sides have brought us apart in the past. Let’s not widen that gap further. Let’s come closer.