This white girl and MLK Day.

I have the enjoyment of being the primary content writer for the blog I oversee where I work at The Giving Keys. On Friday I wrote a post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day to go up today. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so unqualified to write a blog post in my life.

Recently seeing the movie Selma re-stirred within me, and I am sure a great deal of others, the impact that this man has made on history. Particularly civil rights and African-American culture.

This is weird for me to attempt to write out and describe, but seeing Selma along with writing the post on Martin Luther King Jr. have had this way of making me feel the color of my skin. And the rotten history attached to this color.

I spent years of my life working with Detroit youth, where I was generally the only white girl in a room of young black girls that I counseled. And I adored it. I adored them. Adored, adored, adored. I had big plans to spend the rest of my life working with Detroit teens and then other plans happened. But through those years I came to understand and acknowledge race and racism in ways I otherwise never would have had the chance to. For that I am forever grateful.

I learned how ignorant hatred is, and how powerful love is.

I learned the sheer force that culture has on an individual.

I learned how difficult it is to reshape that culture.

Leaving the movie theater a couple weeks ago after seeing Selma, I couldn’t help that my stomach churned with that question of, “If you were alive in that time, in that location, which side would you have been on?”

No one wants to dare say such a thought aloud but I can’t imagine I am the only one who thought it. Believe me, I know it’s a disgusting question and it’s extremely hypothetical and really there is no way of knowing. I mean it was a different time, and place, and things are different now, right?

Re-listening to King’s “I Have A Dream” speech on Friday when writing the blog post one of the lines that stood out to me was this:

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

Maybe, things are not so different yet. We are not yet standing in the day that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt of when our current events are still exactly that.

There are still sides. Tragically. Horrifyingly.

You still choose whether you stand on the side of paranoia and prejudice or do you stand on the side of peace and equality. In some ways we may be less naive and less hateful than years before, but we are still not where we should be.

At the Golden Globes last week Tina Fey made the joke, “the movie Selma is about the American Civil Rights Movement that totally worked and now everything’s fine.”

We are not where we should be. We are not where we should be when over 50 years later we are seeing the same issues, the same violence, the same preconceived notions without bothering to understand.

Everything is not totally fine.

I can’t help but look at the life Martin Luther King Jr. lived and wonder what things would be like if more of us viewed humankind the way he did. If more of us fought for peace and equality with even half the vigor that King did, what levels could we reach together?

Because that’s the thing, it has to be together. No one can do it alone.

It’s time to come together.



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