Martin Luther King DayMonday, January 18, 2021
Photo by Suzy Brooks on Unsplash
Martin Luther King Jr. Day first started before I was born, so I've taken for granted that it was not always observed. In fact, it was not observed in all 50 states until the year 2000. The last state to observe it as a paid holiday, South Carolina, allowed employees to choose between this day and one of three confederate holidays.
Anyway, I wanted to share an MLK quote today that had impacted me in the past year.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers,. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, I cannot agree with your methods of direction”; who paternalistically believes he [or she] can set the timetable for another man’s [or woman’s] freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
--Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
Yesterday I had a short chat with a friend, reflecting on our conservative upbringings. I was raised in Bakersfield, a very republican city inside of the more liberal California. I was exposed throughout my early life to the racism in our country, but had erroneously thought that much of that had been resolved. When I was assigned to serve as an LDS missionary in Mexico, I was responded to with smirks and comments of serving in a despised nearby country. While in Mexico, I was hesitant to live amongst the people I had judged for years. Instead I saw a people that were striving in exactly the same ways that I had. Striving for a better society, and a better future for their families.
Years later, I just now feel unblinded to the same struggles that are still happening here in the United States. American culture is still rife with far-outdated references to slavery. Racist policies still affect the daily lives of millions of people. Those policies have raised systems of oppression that I was simply unaware of.
So this day is a new day for me this year. In the past, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was a day to remember a great man. Now, I wish for it to be a day of reflection. Let us all resolve to do better to root out racist policies and systems around us. This year, I'm trying to find ways to make the future equitable for all.