A few thoughts:
1) Dr. King did not call for peace at any cost. He called for non-violent direct action, and he sought to end all injustices that hold up inequality. In his words:
“If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace.”
“If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace.”
“If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it.”
“Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people.”
2) I fully believe this. Fellow white people, we were raised and socialized to be racist, in ways big and small, most of which I doubt we could even identify.
My wish for white folks this week is that you look inward and be honest with yourselves. You were socialized to be racist, regardless of what you think and feel. Only intentional anti racist thought and action can counter the socialization that all white people receive.
— Shay Stewart Bouley (@blackgirlinmain) January 20, 2019
3) Our country has consistently given advantages to white citizens and withheld them from black citizens — and all non-white citizens. It is a fact of our history that must be faced plainly, and recalled in every conversation we have about race. Any reaction to this history should be an effort to bring balance and justice.
4) Did you see the news? Kamala Harris is running for president! I am really, really happy that so many women are running. And I appreciate this thought from Sady Doyle:
“I don’t think it’s any female candidate’s fantasy to die like Aslan so Narnia can live. But that’s how history works: Women push into forbidden male territory, and get screamed at and treated like freaks, but the next time a woman enters, it’s normal for a woman to be there.”
5) On the topic of justice, have you seen any good ideas for how to help workers and families being affected by the government shutdown? In case you hadn’t heard, in addition to hundreds of thousands of employees that haven’t been paid, the shutdown has additional massive repercussions — including 2500 stores that can’t accept food stamps.
Noah Kagan has offered to cover the paycheck (interest-free) of 10 government workers. (Maybe the idea will spread?) I’ve also heard that government workers can’t accept money, but can accept gift cards — so grocery gift cards and gas gift cards could be helpful. Have you seen any good ideas for helping?
I’m so furious. OPEN THE GOVERNMENT ALREADY!! The idea that the President thinks he should shut down the government if he doesn’t get his way is absolutely bonkers. We are perfectly capable of debating policy while the government is open. A shutdown is 100% unnecessary.
How are you doing today? Have you read or watched anything that has moved you? Or that you keep thinking about? Feel free to share in the comments.
25 thoughts on “Peace, Justice, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Love the idea of @RachelCargle to take today and give money to black causes. It’s not enough to repeat his quotes, we must use resources to support the community still dealing with racism. I funded a @donorschoose request for biographies of black leaders.✌️
Great idea! Another to consider:
Being Black at School
Thank you for addressing the shutdown. It is having serious effects far beyond what is being reported. It is not just 800,000 federal workers in Washington D.C. who are getting a “paid vacation.” It is especially damaging to small businesses that contract for the federal government, and small businesses that have sold supplies to the federal government and are waiting to be paid. The people employed by businesses that depend on a functioning federal government number far beyond 800,000, and are probably in the millions. I am one of them, and I live in a small town far from Washington DC. I’m not sure if my small environmental consulting firm will survive this.
On another topic, your ability to develop thoughtful and insightful observations about our world on an almost-daily basis amaze me.
Dammit. I’m so sorry, Sarah. I feel like I don’t really have a total picture of how many people are affected. Real people and real lives. The shutdown is maddening and so completely unnecessary.
On Twitter, someone suggested that TSA workers should strike, and that it would be so disruptive, that our leaders would be forced to open the government immediately. Another person responded that it’s illegal for TSA workers to strike, but that if pilots refused to fly, that it would have the same affect.
I don’t know if it’s possible for us as citizens to force the government to open, but I’m sure drawn to the idea. I suppose I want to feel like we have some amount of control.
Have you listened to the excellent podcast series called Seeing White by Scene on Radio? It echoes a lot of what you are saying but goes deep into the history of race particularly in the US. It should be required listening for all white folks in this country.
I haven’t, but I’ll put it on my list. Thanks for the recommendation.
It’s a must listen!!!!
Thanks for the podcast suggestion. I just subscribed.
Just donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center— great idea. They are also helping with border asylum issues, and since I live in SoCal and know a lot of people affected by that, it’s a specific aspect of addressing racism that is close to my heart.
When my 31 year old daughter first told me that I was a racist because all whites were raised to be racist I was indignant….now I am beginning to understand. I am understanding more each day. A huge game changer for me was the iphone videos that showed in black and white how unfair our justice system sometimes (often?) is. I, a progressive white liberal who, have a racist filter that I didn’t realize I had. I have a white privilege that I didn’t understand at first. I am eagerly reading and listening with a new heart and mind. At 61 years of age, this new perspective is humbling. Thank you for this platform of sharing thoughts.
I acknowledge my white privilege and want to see clearly how I am racist. I really struggle with knowing HOW to do this. How do I talk about racism with my children? we talk about it in our family often, yet i worry I’m doing it the ‘wrong’ way, because if I’m unknowingly or unintentionally racist, I must be passing those same attitudes to my very white skinned children, right? This is hard. I want to do right by the people who are still being wronged at every turn. How do I approach race with people of color? Do I encourage my children to ignore the color of people’s skin? Do I encourage them to talk about race openly and risk their comments being misunderstood? I know being “nice” isn’t enough and recently read an article explaining how “niceness” to POC can be damaging. I am really at a loss to know how to talk about racism: do I openly broach the subject with POC that I know well? Will that make them feel uncomfortable or singled out? What about those I don’t know? My natural, unstudied approach to people is generally to be friendly and open and find common ground. Any insights or guidance is sincerely appreciated. Thanks for your community, Gabrielle.
I cannot answer your questions, but I think that ignoring a person’s skin color is not the answer as that negates their whole being and history. It’s impossible to do anyway. Years ago, a co-worker told me that the first thing she thinks of when she wakes in the morning is that she is black. The second thing she thinks is that she is a woman. How often do white people in this country have to remind themselves they are white? That is white privilege.
I urge everyone to read the article in last Sunday’s New York Times, “That Other Talk” by Shaquille Heath to further understand what being black is like in America.
Hi other Nora and Cynthia! As a person of color, the concept of being colorblind is hurtful. It erases my experience as a brown person. I explained this to my husband a few years ago. We’ve had SO many race and gender related conversations the past few years. Some difficult, but productive. I explained to him, you get to walk into a room and just be yourself, you’re [insert his name here]. I walk into a room and I am brown woman. So many of my every day interactions are affected by my race, something white people never have to think of. I’ve also been thinking about how kids of color have these conversation so early in life, compared to white children (if they have them at all). We’ve already had some tough conversations with my four old that my white friends can’t imagine having. We are also an interfaith family, and in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting and rising anti-semitism, it adds another element. My son overheard someone talking about the shooting and asked if we would be ok when we went to temple. Last week he asked me if the president didn’t want me hear because I speak Spanish. It kind of breaks me to see my innocent baby have to even think about these things. Nora, I am happy to see you are interested in learning. Especially with POC you know well – do not be afraid to discuss these things.
Thank you so so much for sharing your perspective and experiences. I will change my attitude and approach with POC moving forward. I want to have those important conversation a with my children, too, especially because they are white and need to be aware of their privilege and responsibility to change things. Big hugs to you and your family. So fun We share a name!!!
Googling “how to talk to kids about white privilege” brings up some good resources. Keep educating yourself and it will naturally trickle into what you pass on to your kids. Read a book like Waking Up White to better understand your own privilege, or, better yet, read a book/follow an IG account/take a course taught by a black woman, as black women are the most affected by and therefore in the best position to speak on how to dismantle the effects of the white privilege and racism we’ve all been steeped in. Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy is a good free resource, but there are also plenty of ways to learn from anti-racism educators like Rachel Cargle while compensating them for the time, knowledge, and emotional labor that goes into teaching white people about racism.
Hope that’s helpful!
I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Thank you both for your honest insights. I cant wait to get into those books, Cynthia! Thanks, Leah, for the ideas.
I work for DOJ and am considered essential. Paying for childcare without a paycheck has been so difficult. I am truly at the end of my rope as we get close to missing out second paycheck this week. What has been shocking to me is that no one is talking about it at work. Everyone just comes and works and doesn’t get paid. People are even maintaining the same long hours (contrary to popular opinion about the work ethic of government workers, at my job people work 50-60 hours a week). I feel like this shutdown will continue because everyone is too proud to be a squeaky wheel. Forcing people to work without pay has ensured that the general public won’t feel the effects of the shutdown. But I feel like the only way out is for the general public to suffer with us (like with airport delays, no tax returns, etc)
I think you’re right. I think if the whole country feels the effects, the government will reopen swiftly. It’s easy for me to say because I don’t have any flights planned this week, but I would fully support a pilot strike.
Gabby, thanks for including this in your post today.
Our family is in a similar situation to “J” above.
I read an opinion piece yesterday that suggested a 1-day, all federal employee strike. The piece pointed out that while striking as a federal employee is illegal, not getting paid for work done is also illegal. So for those who are working without pay, which is more illegal? And why is one okay but the other isn’t?
I’m not sure this is a viable option, but as the shutdown drags on, maybe we’re going to have to think about things like this.
To me this question is easy: Not paying someone for work is immoral. Striking is not immoral.
Another thought provoking, well researched and informative blog posting. I am continually amazed by you Gaby. Thank you so much for all you share with us.
Thank you for this dialogue and your well researched blog posting. You are very generous Gaby with your openness .
I was in D.C. this weekend, and it was noticeable how many fewer people there were in restaurants, on the street, and generally interacting with the economy. It will only be in hindsight that we will realize how much this shutdown affected our economy, not just in D.C., but throughout the country. At the airport, I heard someone in front of me in the TSA line thank the TSA worker checking IDs. The TSA worker, who was a little older and probably did not have kids living at home, responded, gesturing to younger TSA workers, “I don’t know how much longer these kids can do this.” If you are a relatively young entry-level government employee, you probably don’t feel much power and don’t want to risk losing a job that you had to train for. It’s a horrible spot to be in.
I have a job writing educational content for elementary school kids. And I have done many in-depth projects about the Civil Rights Movement and it has changed my life. I am not just saying that. It has changed how I think about everything. So many days spent writing and researching and tears streaming down my face. I look a little crazy, sitting there with my laptop in the corner of Starbucks. The vast amount of stories of what people were willing to sacrifice is hard for me to comprehend. I know I wouldn’t have sat at a lunch counter or marched to the Edmund Perry’s Bridge. It took special people to do it. People who I believe came to this earth knowing they had a battle ahead of them. There’s just no other way to explain their resolve and bravery. The saddest part is that we really haven’t come as far as most people would like to believe.
*Edmund Pettus Bridge.
BTW, that bridge is still named that and Edmund Pettus was a damn grand dragon in the KKK. See? Not much has changed