A few years ago on MLK day, I posted, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." I saw that a woman of color had commented, "why do all white people post this quote?" I remember feeling defensive. I thought, how could she disagree that love was a good idea? How could she disagree with MLK about love?
It wasn't until quite a while later that I saw the limitations of my thinking. Now, 3 and a half years into making a life priority out of confronting white and male supremacy head on, I can better understand what I was missing. It is not that the quote that I shared is "bad" or "wrong," or that I am either of those things for posting it. The problem is in the fact that I posted this quote, and then the next day, went about living my life the same way that I always had. I rarely thought about racism. Being white, I never HAD to think about it. Despite considering myself liberal, I wasn't politically engaged, and I certainly was not engaged in consistently exploring my whiteness or working to change the systems that gave me those privileges.
So the problem with posting the quote...and ONLY doing that, is that it let me (and often lets most other white people) off the hook of having to continuously think about and engage with whiteness and racism that shows up even in liberal and progressive circles and cities. MLK wrote, “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.” #
White folks...we must do more than be angry at the current president. The is work to be done in our hearts, our minds, and our communities...no matter how liberal or progressive they are. Will you honor his true legacy?
Follow #McGReads to see the books I've learned from in my "reeducation". Check out White People 4 Black Lives in LA @wp4rj AWARELA.org and Showing Up for Racial Justice #SURJ showingupforracialjustice.org/ for tools to get more deeply involved in the struggle against white supremacy. #ThankYouMLK50