Monday, January 18, 2016

Waking Up

It's MLK Day. I haven't had a lot of time to ponder it this year. I've seen a lot of his "nice" quotes up around Facebook. Quotes about love and peace. I think, like a lot of white people, that those quotes summed him up for me until just a few years ago. Growing up with whitewashed history, I was only taught one version of racial engagement: be colorblind, preach colorblindness, never talk about race ever. And didn't Martin Luther King just want us all to get along? He was about LOVE, people. End of story.

King, however, also had a lot of stuff to say that I'm guessing many of us white people wouldn't put in the "nice" category. Excerpts from speeches that we didn't see in our history books. A quick visit to his national memorial in D.C. will give you a brief but powerful education (and please, for the love of all that is holy, go. You will not regret it.) He wasn't always nice. He was, unashamedly, honest. And a lot of what he had to say applies today in stark ways.

Bottom line, we have got to wake up. Not as much has changed as we were led to believe growing up. Racism is very much alive and just as ugly as ever.

This post is brief for a reason. I had a heck of a nonstop day. But I didn't want this day to go unmentioned. I am grateful for the people in my life who did not allow me to sit in my colorblindness. I am grateful for the friends who got mad at me, who made me angry with them, who shared their stories, who taught me what Dr. King was really about, who prepared me at least on some level for what it would mean to be raising children of color in a very broken system.

So, friends.

Educate yourselves. Educate your children. Put the effort in. Read real histories, not whitewashed textbooks. Don't buy children's books that depict slavery as "not that bad." Talk to your kids about Ferguson and Charleston and Baltimore. Say the names of people who have died solely due to the color of their skin THIS YEAR. Say them out loud. Mourn them.

Colorblindness does nothing but deny the inherent beauty of God's creation while silencing the voices of those who have not been treated with the full dignity which that accords.

Colorblindness, my friends, is a surefire way to teach your kids to be racists.

PUT in the effort. Caring about this, listening to real stories, recognizing our own biases, speaking up in the face of this continued evil, joining in action and policy that works towards ending unjust systems...THAT is the only way we will see change.

Dr. King said it decades ago and we must say it with him. We have much to learn. So let's be in the business of dropping our selfish defenses, our guilt, our helplessness, our indifference, whatever it is that keeps you standing still and silent in the face of so much pain, and start doing the work that will wake us up.

No comments:

Post a Comment