January 18th, 2021
Today is a wonderful day to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Do you want to know what’s not a great way to celebrate him, though? Cherry-picking one of his quotes about “peace” or “unity” and calling it a day.
If you’re just a regular ol’ white person reading this, did you know that he thought we — the moderate white people — are the biggest threat to equality in this nation? Bigger than the KKK even. And now you may be thinking: how is that possible? I’m not even a racist!
It comes down to this: the people who misunderstand or despise the peaceful protests of Black Lives Matter today are the same kind of people who misunderstood or despised Reverend King decades ago. And there are a lot of people in both these cases.
Scroll through your feed real quick. See all those comments comparing a near-universally white insurrection to the rioters who took advantage of BLM protests last summer, but contributing that violence to Black Lives Matter like these are even comparable situations? Those are your moderate whites — the ” But I’m not a racist!”, the “But I have Black friends!”, the “Sure, protest, but do it in a way that does not interfere with any part of my life” — and they are alive, unwell, and the biggest, loudest threat to equality in this nation.
Choosing the MLK quotes that make you feel good as a human misses the entire point of MLK.
Read his letters. They feel like they could have been written this morning. They’re eloquent, and include hope as an ingredient, but they also describe the very real struggle in the fight for justice.
And that is more what he was about. Not a silent, unfair peace — but justice. For all. He wanted America to be true to the words it put on paper.
So to really celebrate the man and his words today, let’s make sure we’re reading and sharing ALL of them. It’s the only way we’ll be able to see through to his dream.