Americans often think that racial issues no longer exist in the US after the abolition of slavery or after the end of Jim Crow. The reality is that they exist and they persist. I've been wanting to write about this issue for a while now, especially after watching the difficult and enlightening documentary, 13th (I highly recommend you to watch it). I thought that there was no better day to write about racial justice than on MLK Day, a day that celebrates the profound legacy of the civil rights warrior.
In his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Dr. King said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Well let me tell you- there is injustice, and you should be concerned. When black people are being pulled over or shot just because of their skin color, you can't tell me that racism does not exist. When 1/3 of black men in the US will go to prison if our trend of mass incarceration continues, you can't tell me that our prison industrial complex isn't a race problem. Black people face blunt and outright discrimination because of what they look like. This can be seen in our justice system, hiring methods, schools, and in many more areas of societal development.
When we honor Dr. King today, we should remember his warnings against complacency and his applauds for nonviolent protest. We should remember the causes he died serving. We should remember his committed fight for justice.
I understand that I am not black and therefore don't struggle with the constant fear of being subjugated or looked down upon or threatened because of the color of my skin, but that doesn't mean I can't care about black people. I understand that I will never fully understand the black experience, but that doesn't mean I can't sympathize with black people and try to help them.
My plea to you is to look inside of yourself, acknowledge any racial bias you have, and suppress those misconceptions. My plea to you is to care about injustice, even if it doesn't directly affect you. My plea to you is to fight for the eradication of oppression. My plea to you is to care about your world and the people who share it.
Explore the resources below. MLK Day isn't a day off. It's a day when you should take time to educate yourself about race relations in the US and the words of MLK.
Speeches of MLK:
Read my Black Lives Matter post and explore the links I put there about racism, not just as it relates to MLK.
I put some inspiring and eye-opening videos below. John and Hank Green also created this cool playlist about Racism and Race: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMs_JcuNozJb-5TJ3uuvqPzQVjO_XarED