Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy MLK Day!

I don’t have any pictures for you today but I wanted to post this link to MLK’s letter written to fellow church leaders about the civil rights movement.  The Washington Post has a thoughtful article as well, but don’t skip King’s actual words.  The disappointment in his letter seems just as fresh today. Disappointment that those who didn’t suffer discrimination themselves stood by and watched as the black community fought for civil rights - or worse, criticized their peaceful protests as disruptive and ‘rabble rousing’. I’ve heard almost identical words in the last few months regarding peaceful protests and seen communities that should be standing up for their fellow Americans shrugging their shoulders at the news of injustice. I’m sure we’ve all seen it. While our laws may be different today it’s  a shame to see how far we still have to go in our actions and attitudes.

On the other hand, two of my colleagues drove home the point that individuals can still make a difference - yes, even if they aren’t the targets of discrimination.  One colleague recounted the time when her children (at the time attending school somewhere overseas) had been dressed up in blackface and maid outfits by their teacher to ‘celebrate’ the local equivalent of black history month.  My other colleague asked what she had done in response. (A great question the next time you hear someone describe an act of discrimination they witnessed.) I think plenty of people would have just made some excuse for why they shouldn’t intervene or it why it wasn’t a good time, but my lovely and strong colleague took the time to meet with the school principal and explain why she found this offensive. She then bought the school some books on important figures in black history. Her actions influenced the teachers - and more importantly the students - at that school for who knows how many years.

So in honor of MLK, make a commitment with me to remember going forward (in the words of DC metro) “If you see something, say something.”

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