Martin Luther King Day is for White People, Too

And this is why.

This is probably obvious to a lot of you. But not to everyone. The other day, I heard someone talking about , and this person asked why “they” thought "they" had the right to plug up traffic. (I didn’t actually hear it, I read it on Facebook. People are much more brazen there, like it doesn’t really count if you say it on Facebook.)

The Facebook poster suggested that “they” just go to the King Center in Atlanta and march there. 

So without talking about racial tension in Snellville, and without really getting into the "us" vs. "them" mentality, I would like to mention why, as white people, we should celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., day, and why we, as white people, should show up on Monday to the parade. 

  • Because Dr. King had a dream that "one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
  • Because he hoped that one day "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
  • Because he hoped that "freedom [would] ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."
  • Because racism still exists today. Yes, it does, in a big way, although it's quieter than it used to be (and it's not just among white people). Dr. King's dream is not here yet. 
  • Because the history of white Americans in this country is not the same as black Americans. So let's take a day to just listen and learn.
  • Because Martin Luther King Day is important. It is so, so important. It is the celebration of a man who devoted his life to changing an entire culture of divide in the United States. 
  • Because Dr. King felt that everyone should have equal rights. 
  • Because Dr. King is part of American history. All Americans. 
  • Because in Snellville, everybody is somebody. Because Snellville can be a universal example of brotherly love, of respect, of valuing everyone, even if our subcultures differ and we wear different shades of makeup. 
  • Because Snellville truly is a melting pot. Let's celebrate that. 
  • Because the civil rights movement was over half a century ago, and we should be colorblind by now. 
  • Because the civil rights movement was only half a century ago, and change is slow. It takes generations. It takes you, and me, and Jews, and Muslims, and Christians, and Latinos, Asians, Europeans, and women and men and children. 
  • Because there is a Walmart in Snellville where the customers are primarily black, and another where the customers are primarily white. It is what it is, for whatever reason, but it is. 
  • Because some Snellville residents avoid one Walmart and drive much further to go to the other. Sure, I'm sure that's not a majority of people. But some do. 
  • Because it's a day of remembrance and recognition of a man who taught pacifism and equality, and was murdered violently for it. 
  • Because your children need to see you celebrating it. Mine are almost grown, and I wish I had taught them more about it. 

I'm so sorry if this comes across as smug of me, as a white person telling other white people what to do. But I'm not sure how else to express my thoughts. Please, go to the parade on Monday. 

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Charis Roth January 21, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Tammy, you may not think there is still an issue to be discussed, and you may teach your kids right, but there are many who don't. There are whites who lived during the time when racism was the law of the land (can't eat together, drink after each, definitely not marry each other) and who still think that was OK. Or, whites who think that black people should be "over it" by now. And there are black people who lived through that, and whose children are hurt by how their grandparents were treated. It just wasn't long ago, and it seems crazy to brush it off and say that we see white kids and black kids holding hands now so everything should be OK. It's better, yeah, but the struggles faced by a large chunk of the American population are something white people can't understand. But, it's so much better in Snellvilel than further south where I have extended family.
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Actually JH, I do not teach ILLITERACY. I teach basic adult literacy. I do it out of the goodness of my heart, and I do it on my own time. Do you do anything for anybody else? Other than pointing out all the foibles of your own race on a thread dedicated to celebrating a life?
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Tammy, There's a time and a place for everything. It's inappropriate for this person to discuss the horrors of rap music on this thread. Since we have the power to start our own thread, why doesn't he/she start a blog and voice away.
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Careful Charis, you're starting to sound like an angry, bitter White woman. Take it from the angry, bitter Black woman - you can glorify the use of murderous weapons, and rejoice when someone dies, but you can't point out your reality because you're ANGRY.
Greg Alexander May 01, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Sorry to post on a stale thread, but I happened to run across your post, Charis. Since I learned anything about the principles of non-violence that King believed in, I have absolutely believed that he holds as much value and hope for whites as for blacks. However, I also ran across this other post, which I found very powerful: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did Cliff notes version: King's universal message of love may have often landed on deaf ears, but he made a real revolution among black people by *successfully* teaching something like, "if you want to be free, and freedom means being whipped, then you will have to overcome your fear of the whip." Which is also universally applicable, but meant something special to a people living under the entirety of Jim Crow. In some sense, rap music is a potent affirmation of this -- no one who is living in absolute terror of judgment by white people could possibly behave like a rap star.


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