We live in perilous times. But when has that ever stopped us before? Since before our ancestors were brought to America on slave ships, people of African descent have shown our brilliance and resilience.

As we prepare to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a man who literally changed the world with his dream – I admonish you to remember who you are and Whose you are.

Yes, Donald Trump is president-elect and yes incidents of hatred and violence have reportedly increased since he was declared winner on November 8, 2016. However, I once heard a wise person say, adversity doesn’t make you who you are, it reveals who you are.

I believe this past election just made hate- filled people feel they have license to show us who they really are. In a way, I am grateful because certain exposures modify my expectations. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather know what I’m dealing with. In the words of the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are believe them.”

You are a royal priesthood. You have the blood of Kings and Queens running through your veins. And you serve a Creator who is undoubtedly for you! Even when it doesn’t seem like it, the Lord always has our best interests at heart.

How will you grow unless you are challenged? If we could survive the Middle Passage, over 400 years of brutal slavery, the Jim Crow era and continued years of unjust treatment, incarceration and murder, surely we can survive Trump’s presidency.

If you were shaken to the core like so many when last year’s election results came in, that feeling should move you to prayer AND action because prayer without works is dead.

If you don’t like Trump’s proposed policies, what are you going to do to change them? If you think his cabinet is made up of bigots and racists, what role will you play in countering the government’s impact? The constitution reads, “We the People … “ for a reason.

While everyone may not be a politician, we all have spheres of influence and should be an active participant in changing them for the better.

As a Christian, I try to live by the principles of the Bible; and in Matthew 7:12, Jesus said “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Do not succumb to the very hatred that we as a race have been subjected to since our feet connected with America’s shores.

In the words of our beautiful and brilliant outgoing FLOTUS Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.”

We “go high” by walking intentionally in our individual and collective purposes. We love people, stand for righteousness and take seriously our responsibilities to be bearers of light and truth.

Dr. King said, “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

This is not limited to racial and cultural minorities, it also applies to those who differ in thought or world-view. Are you willing to stand against the crowd when the crowd is wrong? On the other hand, are you humble enough to know that you are not an island and dreams are rarely achieved without the support of others? Dr. King led a movement, but he was only as powerful as the committed people surrounding him that were dedicated to bringing about positive change.

What are you dedicated to? What is the very thing that you seemingly cannot breathe without doing? Odds are that thing is a critical part of the way God intended you to embody Dr. King’s dream.

One of the only things more powerful than daring to dream is working to make it a reality. So how can you work to be the dream?

You can decide to muster up every bit of faith and determination you have to avoid contributing to the nightmare of hatred and hopelessness.

You can understand that while Dr. King had a dream and President Barack Obama was one manifestation of it, you have so many unrealized potentials to awaken to.

It is 2017 and time has shown us that we will either utilize her properly or bear the regretful consequences. Don’t waste the inherent gifts, talents and dreams God has so strategically placed within you.

Dr. Varron Williams, a deacon at my church, made a profound statement this past Sunday. He said, “When you don’t move forward, you’re actually going backwards because time is always moving forward.”

So which will it be? Will you make progress or will you be paralyzed? There is no one in the world like you, so only you can be your dream – and only you can forfeit it.

I hope for your sake, and ours, that you will choose the former.

Isheka N. Harrison