Dear editor, fellow Americans, and anyone else it may concern,

Last week, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a professor of mine asked us to go out and do something special in honor of the day since many institutions still do not recognize the holiday. He asked that we either learn something new about civil rights, help someone less fortunate, or something of our own design, in the spirit of social activism.

The rest of the day I pondered the assignment. It wasn’t until I was reading your publication that anything really lit a fire up under me.

I generally read the Chicago Reader cover to cover weekly. This also means that I usually scan through the Reader Matches ads for the chance of finding my “missed connection” or love, as I’m sure many other readers do. Until this day it had never occurred to me how horribly these ads were missing the point. Just about every ad starts about the same way: I am a man/woman, of x race, y religion, b height, c weight, and so on. They then go on to say that they are searching for a person of a specific set of cultural backgrounds, religion, and physical attributes.

Is this really as far as we have come today, in the year 2000? That we are still unable to look beyond the color of someone’s skin, or the size package they come in. Is love for someone not love for his or her beauty inside? Even those just in search of friends often ask for specific ethnicity.

Many of these people claim to be in search of love, but they will miss it if it walks right by and it does not look “right.”

My point here is that our country will never move forward and human rights never will be fully realized until people can put aside their own prejudices and learn to love all people regardless of their ethnic background or the way that they look.

So this year as you celebrate the lives of great social activists, or participate in special heritage month events, remember to look inside yourself. See if you have really given up your prejudices. You will find that once you do that your heart and this world will be truly filled with love.

Meghan Romano