I hate days celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What should be a day of celebrating black excellence, and reflecting on the steps this country still needs to take to address its own racism, instead devolves into scores of people tweeting the same three quotes that only serve to misrepresent the powerful message of equality that Dr. King truly preached.
What’s worse perhaps, is that countless members of White America use days like these to shame movements promoting the betterment of Black America. Let me make something abundantly clear. If he were alive, Dr. King would not have remained silent as members of our government shamed and demeaned Black America. He would not have tolerated the outrageous abuse that blacks face at the hands of the police in this country. There’s a long documented history of Dr. King fighting against police brutality, and despite what a large portion of White America would lead you to believe, he most likely would have supported the efforts of Black Lives Matter.
The notion that Dr. King was an apolitical figure, whose ideals were widely in line with those of today’s administration is a false one. The man was deemed a radical, and was hated by the administration for being outspoken on issues of economic inequality, imprisonment of black leaders, and police brutality. Yes he preached tolerance, but he did not condone nor accept the appalling level of racism that this country still harbors.
This false idol that Dr. King has been reduced to, is nothing more than a puppet used by White America to show what a “Good Negro” looks like. It’s disgusting to watch white politicians use their limited knowledge of Dr. King to further push their racist agendas. It’s almost comical that they, the embodiment of racism in this country, would use the words of Dr. King, as if they truly understood them.
The letter that follows this brief introduction is just me expressing my frustration. It’s not anything new, or revolutionary, and I can’t see it changing the way things seem to be progressing. It’s just me venting. I’m sure some will say that my tone is not in line with the teachings of Dr. King, and I couldn’t disagree more. The words in the following letter, though potentially biting and accusatory, are simply pointing out an injustice that Dr. King himself fought against. It is with these words that I attempt to carry on that legacy.
Dear White America,
It pains me to write this letter to you all. While some would suggest that I narrow down the target audience I feel as if these words could resonate even with those who feel they are absolved of the racism that plagues this country. These same people may feel targeted, and would implore me not to isolate myself from those who wish to be allies, and to that I would say that even our allies can slip into problematic behavior.
I’ve begun to resent you White America. While you argue about the legitimacy of our plight, we, the truly forgotten people, find ourselves slipping further into the grave you have dug for us. It’s hard for me not to blame all of you when even those who would aid us in this fight for equality seem content to remain at a standstill. It’s not all that surprising. Though they claim to argue on our behalf our allies are free from the persecution that they claim to be against. There is no urgency in their words as it is not their men, women, and children being slaughtered in the streets by those who are paid to protect us.
Around here is where I would generally apologize for seeming upset, but quite frankly I’m tired of apologizing for pointing out the truth. I’ll be honest White America, it’s getting real old having to calmly explain to you the same thing that has been happening for decades. White America you routinely rewrite history, give children a whitewashed education, and refuse to engage with our legitimate qualms. You assassinate our leaders, shame our movements, and snatch our culture, and still you expect me to smile and speak politely while I ask you to kindly give me a seat at the table.
You’re racist White America. Your surface, core, and foundation are all corrupted by racism, and you all seem to be okay with it. You ignore the pain and suffering inflicted on me and my people by putting leaders into place that only exacerbate these issues. You claim that our culture corrupts the minds of youths, yet you take that same culture to enrich your own. You’re racist White America. You somehow have deluded yourself into believing that it is you who are oppressed. You hear our words ringing out louder than ever, and claim that your voices have been drowned out. You put into practice restrictive voting laws, and yet still have the audacity to say that this country doesn’t listen to you. You claim we are stealing your education and employment opportunities, while simultaneously discarding applications when you see our names appear at the top of them.
You forgot who built this country White America. You seem to have forgotten who paved the streets, tilled the fields, and fed your children. You made us build the set, write the script, and book the venue, and yet you still reduce us to props in your grand play White America. You forgot the price we have continued to pay so that you may prosper, and it’s high time that you gave us what you owe.
A Member of Black America