I get the appeal, I really do. It’s MLK Day, and everyone is posting a famous tidbit of what Martin Luther King Jr. said, or did in his too short lifetime. It shows that you own a calendar, and access to the internet.
But here’s the thing. Posting a quote on your wall that says “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” doesn’t mean anything. What about the other 364 days of the year?
The thing is, a lot of us, including myself, don’t go out of our way everyday to improve the lives of those around us. There is obvious racial disparity in this country, and anyone that denies it is either choosing to be willfully ignorant or lying. And so slapping a quote from a great civil rights leader and not following up with actions is basically useless.
It doesn’t have to be something fantastical. You don’t have to fly to Washington D.C and protest, you don’t even have to spend money. You can start in your community, with the people around you. I promise, I’m not trying to make anyone look bad, or even to pretend that I’m a perfect activist, because I’m not. But for anything to get better, people outside of the oppressed group need to realize that there is a problem.
I know that one of the hardest conversations that I’ve had with a friend was explaining to them why the Black Lives Matter movement is important. We talked about my experience as a black woman in this country, and the fears that I had everyday. I talked to him about my experience with police, and what was fundamentally wrong with Blue Lives Matter. This was difficult because my friend is currently working on becoming a police officer, and is a white, cis gender, heterosexual, Christian male.
He was never forced to navigate through a system that was designed to oppress him. He lived his whole life born with privilege that he never asked for. As a friend, it was my responsibility to educate him about the experiences that black women and men go through. I didn’t shame him, or blame him for anything, but I did stress the importance of being aware of his privilege and the responsibility that he has to work towards equality.
Anyway, I’m not trying to bash MLK Day or anything. But I am asking that actions follow the words. We have a lot of challenges facing our country and it isn’t just a black issue, or a woman issue. It’s everyone’s issues. Image how the country would be if everyone worked as hard on society as they do curating a social media following, or pruning their Instagram feed?
I challenge everyone, include myself to have at least one conversation of importance each week. 10 points if it’s in person!
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
(How ironic that I end this post with a quote)