“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy today, we acknowledge our own dissatisfaction and, really, rage, at the systems within we find ourselves existing. Systems that are racist, oppressive, and dehumanizing. Systems that suffocate and restrict while insidiously infusing falsehoods and fantasies of support and protection, into our belief systems.
Our fellow white folx, it is time we all confront how we benefit from these systems, and how our privilege has allowed us to remain oblivious and/or complicit to the violence of White supremacy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized Americans during the civil rights movement to fight for black Americans’ right to vote, and to have access to the same spaces, resources, and freedoms as white Americans. Many of us have told ourselves this disparity was addressed after the civil rights movement. However, the country is finally beginning to wake up to the reality that these systems were founded on White supremacy. Moreover, these systems were designed to survive and protect this power structure. The injustices that many believed had secured their place in history, had simply been rebranded. We continue to see this in the disproportionate policing, criminalization, and violence against black bodies in this country. More recently, we have seen this manifest in the difference in language used around the Black Lives Matter protests, versus the insurrection at the Capitol.
In spite of injustice, however, is the hope and resilience of marginalized and disenfranchised communities. We are inspired by heroes like Stacey Abrams, organizing communities to fight against voter suppression, so that our government and policies are representative of all people’s interests. The organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — calling for the recognition of the humanity of black people, and finding ways to work outside of the systems that refuse to do so.
The women mentioned above are doing this work to save themselves and their communities, because they know the structures America has in place will never serve them. We are inspired to think critically about doing our own work to dismantle, transform, and reimagine systems. This process must be in partnership with those who have historically not been seen or heard, including people impacted by the criminal legal system. Thinking about the necessity of this work, we are reminded of the words of another activist, Audre Lorde. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” When some people in this country are denied their humanity, we are all denied our humanity. When our healthcare system, education system, and other institutions do not support the wellbeing of all people, we all suffer.
We leave you with a few questions to reflect on today:
- How do you define justice? Violence? Safety?
- Who is served or protected by your definitions of these concepts? How inclusive are your definitions?
- How can you use your power and privilege to shift and share power with those who have been denied access?
We also invite you to donate to these racial justice-focused organizations: