MLK’s Legacy and White Privilege

Hi Friends!
If you’re affected (directly or indirectly) by the ongoing government shutdown, hang in there. Do the self-care you need. Many community members are organizing ways to help each other and our community, so get connected and involved if you can. You are not alone.
I’d love to hear from any group members about how you chose to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this past weekend and what you’re reflecting on. I’m finding that the more I read and the more I expand my learning, the more complex his legacy and the way our society often appropriates it becomes. Certainly spending time in service to others is worth doing regardless, but watch how his words are used and “whitewashed,” often removing them from the context in which they were said and sometimes removed from our current context of continued injustice. Remember that he viewed white moderates as more of a barrier to justice than overt racists (letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963). Also see this from Michael Harriot at The Root.
Here’s a great story about others grappling with white privilege and their “bubbles” and what to do with that. Breaking out of our ignorance is the first step to making meaningful change — this is why I started this group! When you’re willing and able to say “Wow, I’m racist,” you have the capacity for change. And as you work through it, you help other bubbles break, too. When we can be open about our growing awareness with others, we give them permission to join in the work as well.
Also, I’ve been reading Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, which I only bring up here because I’m very impressed at the way she centers women of color and their experiences in her exploration of the role of anger in feminism and societal change. It’s refreshing to read someone so matter of fact about the realities of racism, white supremacy, and the challenges those bring to any struggle for equality and equity.
I have been very encouraged by group members who are finding ways to raise issues of injustice in their communities. One of our members witnessed discriminatory conversation around parking permits and zoning in her neighborhood and is working to share her own perspective and raise awareness about the inherent racism in keeping certain populations from parking in her neighborhood. Another member shared some of the data from my recent updates with her community to encourage them to advocate in a more informed way on educational equity issues. I love hearing from you about how you’re getting involved! Keep it up.
Some more great resources:
(1) “Trump’s Border Wall Is a Monument to White Supremacy” by Bryan Lee Jr. via CityLab.
(2) “Alabama Can’t Make Birmingham Display Confederate Monument” by Brentin Mock via CityLab.
(3) Everything on The New York Times Race/Related site.
(4) A couple of books on whiteness — Witnessing Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
Upcoming events:
(1) A reminder of the SURJ DC orientation meeting on Sunday, January 27.
(2) Challenging Racism is hosting Table Topics on January 24 and 31.
Keep up your engagement!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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