A Personal Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King

Maternal Ancestors

Nonviolence means not only avoiding external violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

- Dr. Martin Luther King

Dear Dr. Martin Luther King,

May the many gifts of freedom you endowed the world with your unfathomable courage and sacrifices be returned to you a thousand fold wherever you are, no doubt still emblazing our universe with your inextinguishable light.

I can't even begin to imagine what you meant to African Americans living in the sixties if you already were such a huge anchoring and guiding force to me as an immigrant and graduate student at a progressive CA clinical psych program in 1997, trying to make sense of the "psychological lynching of multiracial people in the US" (the title of my preliminary dissertation paper) and the intense racial tension and splitting in my program that threatened my core integrity and colorful ancestry (see image of my African, Indigenous, Portuguese Jewish Dutch maternal great-grandparents above).

Paternal Ancestors

My Hakkah Chinese paternal grandparents and children

No one in my field back then advocated and affirmed with as much elegance, simplicity, and clarity what bright and brave beacons like you could and did during this critical time. I saw thanks to your example that the degree of pain and wounding we each may have experienced in life, no matter how seemingly insurmountable or huge, will always pale in comparison to the field of wholeness and love it's embedded in.

That's when I began to envision the kaleidoscopic movement of a yin yang model that challenged polarized and reductionistic notions, not only of black and white racial identities and experiences, but of all our light and shadow parts, our preferences and our triggers, our perceptions of reality split into friend and foe, pro and con, "us" and "them" without questioning deeply enough who and what we are defending.

I took it upon myself to moderate these tensions as the co-leader of the students of color group, and dialogue (name of the student newsletter I developed) about these hard, raw, very tender, and inflamed issues through my writing. This led to opening and expanding the size and minds of the group and eventually the community-at-large through a workshop and organized committees.

I further studied the source of these heated conflicts in my 350 page cross-national dissertation. I collected survey, interview, and published research data, examined the spiritual orientation and outlook of Surinamese and American multiracial people through multidisciplinary, sociopolitical, historical, economic, and psychological lenses, and integrated established, but limited, piecemeal models into some sort of overarching whole to essentially measure intuitive intelligence and holistic thinking.

This recent definition posted by Francis ? of the Human Company nails how I experience intuitive intelligence now, and attempted to define it back then.

Intuitive intelligence lies beyond the boundaries of science and analytics. It bridges the realms of reality and imagination, reason and instinct, material and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Intuitive Intelligence is non-linear, a key skill for success in the new economy, an economy driven by constant disruption and chaos.

Intuitive Intelligence is defined as the combination of 4 abilities: – The ability to think holistically – The ability to think paradoxically – The ability to listen and connect to oneself and others – The ability to lead by influence rather than by design.

Without clear definitions like these, I resorted to internationally normed and tested research models that identified and hinged on assumptions and patterns along the spectrum of either-or Cartesian thinking. Some had evolved into modern analyses and nuanced ideas about competition and collaboration (i.e. constructive and destructive differentiation; reflective reappraisal; vertical and horizontal collectivism and individualism models).

These key notions turned out to be the defining ingredients in my research participants' skill level, effectiveness, and conscious intention in creating harmonious environments of mutual co-existence. In these environments, the unique languages, culture, religion, music, food, perceptions, religion, traditions, and thinking of the "other" are wholeheartedly celebrated and even adopted without a sense of the validity and sanctity of one's own ideals or the group being threatened.

My findings were finessed by another five years of pre- and postdoc endeavors in delivering diversity and conflict resolution programs at UC Davis, and are consistent with the profile and attitudes of Adam Grant's highly successful and impactful leaders in his recent book Give and Take - all special people who are giving and generous without bypassing the needs of themselves, and in the end, gain tenfold more than they gave.

Thanks to you, Dr. MLK, I stuck to my hunches, and discovered that I grew up in an environment where this kind of thinking is central and mainstream rather than marginalized as it still is in the US - although gaining momentum and clout in isolated locales and communities.

If you were able to stick to your ideals within a spiritual desert of such racist brutality, well aware that your life and the safety of your family and children for some ironic reason would be more greatly threatened by your march for peace and still did not let this deter you, I really have no excuse but to stand up and do the best I can to appreciate the ease, privileges, and freedoms that you endowed upon me and all of us. I feel reinvigorated to make good use of my deep study, professional experiences, and my new dynamic wholeness model to work toward equality, freedom, and healing for all, and am recommitted to bust through any blockages and fears that may still hold me back.

Blessings and gratitude from the bottom of my heart.