Trigger Warning: racism, maternal mortality
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Civil Rights hero. He is a modern-day legend, remembered for his messages of love, of working toward a peaceful revolution against injustice.
Because there is a focus of remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. for his message of peace, the tensions that formed the message, from which it was born, are oft forgotten. It is important to remember that the time from which Martin Luther King, Jr. had to rise was not unlike the one we are in now. For those of us raised in the 1980s and 1990s, many of us probably received messages that we are “post-racial,” that everyone should be treated “equally,” that we the color of our skin doesn’t matter. But, it is fair to say that it just isn’t true. It’s not a post-racial society. We moved from the express segregation of Jim Crow to the over-incarceration of Black men. We moved from segregated schools, to charter and magnet public schools that are still mostly White and middle class. And, specifically pertinent to this blog, Black mothers- despite education and income- are more likely to die in childbirth than White mothers.
It’s incumbent on all of us to end racism. We don’t live in a post-racial society. Race and racism are alive and well, even if we’ve learned to speak racist remarks in new codes. You know what I’m talking about.
In his Letter from Birmingham Jail (reminder: Martin Luther King, Jr. went to jail. The next time you hear someone say something about criminals, remember who gets criminalized and for what), he said one of the strongest barriers to progress is moderation (specifically the white moderate): the desire for order over the messiness of speaking out. And boy is it messy. And uncomfortable. And necessary. Even I have been asked to stop being so publicly vocal about my own political opinion (politics and racism are inextricable).
But I won’t stop. And now I’m asking you to do the same.
Get uncomfortable where you are. Have the conversations. Learn about privilege, and how to disrupt it. Count on people of color to lead, but don’t make them do all the work. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., don’t settle for complacency.
Here are some groups to join and follow to start getting involved in the anti-racist work happening in Indianapolis today.