Today is a beautiful day for many reasons. It is the day we honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his unwavering spirit of love and inclusion. It is also the day after Peter Dinklage won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting TV Actor.
Yes, the two are related and here’s why.
Peter has achondroplasia, which means he is of shorter stature than most average people. He is commonly referred to as a dwarf. Some may even call him a munchkin or midget, yet those terms are only uttered by totally ignorant and disrespectful people. These are the same people that were involved in the attack on a fellow dwarf in the UK that Peter referenced in his acceptance speech. In his humble manner, Peter simply said: “I’m thinking of Martin Henderson.” After the telecast, when he was asked to elaborate, he only said “Google him”.
Thankfully many people did and now there is much greater awareness around the assault on Martin Henderson and the clear discrimination on people just like him and Peter Dinklage.
Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for not only those people of color to receive the same respect and inclusion as those of paler skin. His fight for people of color was monumental and changed our cultural landscape. It also has inspired countless other groups of marginalized people to stand up and speak out against hate and discrimination. These are all civil rights. People of color, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender individuals (LGBT), and dwarfs, among many others. MLK gave everyone the hope that by speaking up, ignorance may be destroyed.
Peter Dinklage is also my first cousin. He has always been such a subtle soul with power behind his eyes. Always aware of his height limitations, he certainly never let them own him. He has been acting since I can remember and in one high school play he was the lead. In one scene, he dramatically jumped up on a table to command the stage and the room. This was powerful, yet not necessary since he already had command of the entire room. He just has that presence.
Today, as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., I am so proud to know that my daughter can look at a picture of the president and not even flinch that his skin is a different color than hers is. This is so monumental. We’ve come a long way since MLK first started the fight. We have a long way to go, especially when we look at the continued discrimination and bigotry among people like Peter Dinklage.
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the hope to know that with continued awareness and strong voices, we will all overcome.