Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

As we arrive on the cusp of what could be called a ‘Great Racial Awakening’ within our country, America, it would be negligent to speak on how far we’ve come without acknowledging how we arrived here. Furthermore, speaking on where we are without proper context of social issues can contribute to arguments that all is well, and pushing forward the idea that color doesn’t exist. Thus making racism impossible.

MLK Day, as championed across the world as a day memorializing the work and effort put forth by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is one that is so important to the foundation of black America. He is known to many as someone who unequivocally voiced a message of inclusion and equality when everyone was content with being stagnant from a perspective of racial exclusivity. His stature as one of America’s greatest and most significant historical figures is one that should always be regarded in the highest sense of the word. 

Looking at America’s then compared to now, isn’t as different as one may think. What occurred in the 60’s & 70’s was just the beginning to something that would and will take decades to fix. Integration didn’t eradicate racism nor the ideals that set Jim Crow laws in place. Now 54 years later, take a look at where we are. We are still living through the vestiges of what the world once was, black people were treated as extraterrestrial beings in their own country.

Photo Credit: Danté Rhodes

Understanding the plight of the black person goes further than just slavery and segregation. It’s rooted in the way we have been compromised intellectually while being  raised in America. Telling young black girls and boys that George Washington had wooden teeth is the first step in indoctrinating black people into thinking that history isn’t as bad as it was. This promotes the narrative that black rage based on past events isn’t always done from a fair or reasonable angle. As described by real historians and scholars, George Washington’s famed wooden teeth were actually those of slaves. And while yes, there were times when his teeth were also composed of ivory, steel, and other materials, this dehumanized view of black people allowed for the slave’s tooth to be used as a reasonable alternative. This is just one example of how this country is built around teaching the black person how to be ignorant. 

To add insult to injury, black people around the world are still dealing with the harsh repercussions of slavery. These repercussions being much worse than those of any other enslaved group of people in history. The idea that these enslavements are even comparable is null and void. These people weren’t shipped across the world after being captured and tortured, and furthermore their descendants aren’t dealing with the direct repercussions of said enslavement. Stop bringing this up, especially when you’re trying to defend oppression and privilege. This is the reason why someone like MLK was necessary nearly 100 years after slavery was abolished.

One of the hallmarks of King’s legacy was his initiative in protesting on the basis of race up until his untimely death. ‪A protest is a protest, and with effective reform, it’s the only way change will happen. Whether it’s peaceful or not, it’s happening. When it was “peaceful”, it was ignored, as evidenced by the actions of Colin Kaepernick. This argument that protests are at the root of evil when done on the basis of securing equality of black people has exhausted me. Black people are tired of people telling us how to protest their egregious actions and systems. You torture us and want us, in a effort for it to cease, to beg quietly and wait out the storm. 500+ years later, we’re a little tired of waiting and begging quietly. When it was peaceful, it was deemed either disrespectful or entitled, so here we are. Until we get change, justice, and effective politics, we won’t rest.‬ We will do what it takes, at whatever costs – I will not speak out against my people who have fought so diligently for centuries. We have been oppressed since the moment we were deemed as property centuries ago, and now it’s time for that to end. We are people. We deserve & will get rights. And we WILL be respected.‬ Be on the right side of history as this is the revolution, and it is time for Americans everywhere to wake up. Black Lives have always mattered, and always will. 

My final message to you is this – be a part of change and find a way to protest those that oppress the oppressed. In the wise words of MLK, “With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the levelling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.” Vote, organize, mobilize, speak, stand up, and fight for what’s right! Donate to organizations that are fighting for change.The language of both systematic and systemic racism needs to go. It’s time for not only sustained growth, but the birth of a new society of people where we are all equal.

Photo Credit: Danté Rhodes

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