MLK Day of Service 2017: Celebrate Rep. John Lewis

16 Jan

john-lewisMr. Trump’s attack on civil rights hero John Lewis certainly underscores and unequivocally proves the need to celebrate our civil rights pioneers. I had the great honor of actually getting to meet Rep. John Lewis when he spoke at the Atlanta Girl’s School at a convocation we held. While I had always loved and admired Rep. Lewis, and I was fortunate enough to live in his district for many years, after his speech, all I could think of was: I want all children to turn out like this man!

Rep. John Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and endured such physical assaults and hate during the civil rights movement. Yet he emerged as this beautiful soul who has done nothing but promote peace, love, and equity for targeted populations — this has been his life’s work. To see him attacked by Mr. Trump who only has a legacy of avarice, mendacity, and divisiveness, hurts my heart more than I can say. The old rules of human decency seem to no longer apply. The United States seems to only reward sociopathic billionaires now who tweet late into the nighttime how their feelings have been hurt.

With the ascension/anointment of Mr. Trump, we have seen how his supporters are emboldened to thwart human decency. Case in point, Biloxi, Mississippi has renamed MLK Day to “Observance of Great Americans Day.” Thanks, Biloxi. You have made it painfully clear that only white heterosexual men are welcomed to your white city. This new celebration will also celebrate Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I think I just spat up a little in my mouth. More evidence of how emboldened Trump supporters have become, we witness Republican Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter calling Lewis “a racist pig.” Mr. Hunter, you clearly do not understand the word racism. Please step down from your position of power.

I grow exceedingly tired of Trump supporters including Trump’s bitch (NBC) and famous idiots like Nicole Kidman who keep telling us: “We have to trust Trump and support him.”  Why on earth would any targeted person/community trust this man, when he keeps appointing White Supremacists, Homophobes, Misogynists, billionaires to his cabinet? Help me understand why on earth should we trust him.

I am inviting all of us in the United States to reflect around our own racism and encourage conversations around issues of racial disparities and systems of inequities and oppression. I also invite us to think about how we see our country. For all of us white folk, now is the time for us to stand up against racism — to speak out against and resist those who continue to participate in the system of racism. I am asking for us to become activists and NOT to speak for nor speak over black voices. Find out what it means to be an ally. If you are not speaking out against Trump and against racism then you are colluding with the oppressor. Mr. Trump just cancelled his MLK Day visit to the National African American Museum “because he is too busy.” What kind of message does that send to all of us about his commitment to heal a divided nation and to address systemic racism? If you need to cry here, please do. I know many of us are crying for what the future holds in store.

While I identify as a queer white man, I would argue racism in the United States is most definitely a queer issue, it is a feminist issue, it is a black issue, it is a trans issue, for the intersectionality here makes it an issue for all people living in the United States.

Taking Action: Here we have an opportunity as white people to leverage our power and privilege for black lives. I hope all of us are engaging in conversations that address issues of access, power, and barriers. Can we look for spaces where white people can stand back and stand in solidarity with black people? Can we look for spaces to ensure more black voices are being heard? Please resist and do not normalize a Trump administration. I leave you with this clip from a show called Black-ish.

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9 Responses to “MLK Day of Service 2017: Celebrate Rep. John Lewis”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW January 16, 2017 at 6:35 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  2. bevanyardleigh January 16, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Thank you for reminding us how wonderful Rep. Lewis is. This makes my disgust with Trump deepen further, something I thought impossible. He denigrates heroes, lauds fools and greedy monsters, and screams his thumbs off at the tiniest slight. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2017 at 10:29 am #

      Yes, sadly the nightmare that is Trump seems just to get worse everyday! Thank you for people like you who are such strong allies to targeted communities. In solidarity, Michael.

  3. brianarbenz January 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    Excellent piece, Michael! Your experience with John Lewis adds depth to your feelings here. We must rise up to stop hateful dismissive attitudes against bravery like his from becoming normal. I’ll be on the march in Washington Jan. 21, which is many decades after I really needed to get out on the street against the racism I have long known is wrong.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Brian. Good for you for going to the march! I wish I could. In solidarity, Michael.

      • brianarbenz January 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

        I’ll be thinking of you, as one of the folks I am representing.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt January 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

        Thank you! Peace, Michael.

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