MLK Holiday: When We Pretend Not to be a Racist Nation

16 Jan

The Civil Rights Movement Continues

Of course, I’m glad that we have a National holiday honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  What disturbs me is how far we have yet to go in the civil rights movement.  I hear people talking now about the March on the Mall in Washington, yet they don’t know the March was organized by the openly gay Bayard Rustin.  Hearing so many people purporting to have been present during King’s I Have a Dream Speech, also leaves me a bit bothered. We like to pretend that we are not a Nation continuing to struggle with racism.  Yet we have no further to look than the current Tea Party who gave birth to the racist Birther Movement. We have no further to look than the white hetero power structure that places racists like Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as presidential candidates.  It also breaks my heart that I have to underscore the unconscionable move on behalf of the GOP: this year, 34 Republican state legislatures introduced bills designed to turn voters away from the polls who cannot produce specific types of state issued ID. If all of these bills pass, roughly 21 million voters will lose their right to vote. And, it’s no coincidence that most of those voters are minorities, students, and elderly voters who vote Democrat.

I did not ever get the chance to meet Dr. King and I was a small child when he was assassinated.  I did, however, get the chance  to meet Coretta Scott King twice–two moments that will stay with and inspire me for the rest of my life. I remember driving to work listening to NPR on January 30th, 2006.  They just announced that Coretta Scott King had passed away.  I could barely drive, I was crying so hard.  What a loss for all of us who work for ensuring civil rights for ALL.  We still have so far to come to create true equality for our African-American brothers and sisters.  We also still have huge obstacles to overcome before we have full civil rights for the LGBT community.  On a holiday when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, I would also like to remember Coretta Scott King.  Coretta showed great courage and her consistent indomitable spirit as she spoke for marriage equality:

I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice… But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ … I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people…We have a lot of work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say ‘common struggle,’ because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry & discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination.

As with the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the loss of Coretta Scott King, I think we are all looking for a strong leader and voice of reason that will continue to fight for equal rights for ALL.  I do believe each of us can be that change–each of us can be the collective change needed if we band together and show solidarity in the face of bigotry. For those of you that follow this blog, you knew I had to include a song from Sweet Honey in the Rock.


8 Responses to “MLK Holiday: When We Pretend Not to be a Racist Nation”

  1. penguinlad January 16, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    It truly is sad how racist the GOP contenders are. I love this quote about Ron Paul’s candidacy from Sunday’s DailyKos:
    Ron Paul continues to inspire some, but he never had potential to be anything more than a side show, his glittering little tent secretly adorned inside with tattered Confederate flags.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Thank you for the comment, Penguinlad. Sad and very accurate comment on the bigot Ron Paul.

  2. Zoe Nicholson January 16, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Thoughtful. Thought FULL Mindful. Oh sweet relief. And may I add how wonderful these two souls were, Dr & Mrs King, and they also show us that it does not necessarily pass on to children. The purity of conscience that Martin & Coretta worked on honed, ground and fed – extraordinary.
    And her lonely death seems just as violent as his assassination.
    Thank you.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      Thank you for such a lovely and thoughtful comment. Thank you also for dedicating your life to civil rights and enfranchising all!
      Your fan,

  3. nevercontrary January 16, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    There is a program called Dialog on race where they get high school kids to sit down and discuss what racism is and how to talk about it. Some kids at my school went. This is what we need more of.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Absolutely! We need more of these open dialogues and we need to understand that the word Racism is directly tied to power and an established white institutionalized power structure.

  4. Chadwick Taylor January 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Well said. People believe that since we have an African-American President that racism no longer exist. If anything, it brought it out more (as you indicate the Tea Party movement, Birthers, “Michelle Obama hates America”, etc.) Thank you for your honesty and straight to the point post. If only the people who need to read it, will.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

      Yes, what truly saddens me is that I fear racism has become far worse since President Obama became President. Let us hope people wake up and have a better understanding of racism, so that we may eradicate it. Thank you for commenting here.

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