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Put up or Shut up

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be, and have been, countless events, articles, documentaries, etc. honoring his legacy. I am running the risk of being just another voice in the echo chamber of change makers that are so prevalent and vocal these days. I’m going to speak anyway. It’s important to me to lend my voice in honesty and solidarity to the movement that continues every day in this nation. For the half century since his assassination people have been showing up to fight discrimination screaming into a vacuum for help, solidarity, and fairness and they have been largely ignored by those of us whose skin color allows us the privilege to not notice.

This is for white people who celebrate Dr. King and his accomplishments, his commitment to justice, peace, and equality for people of color in America. What do you celebrate? Do you celebrate a memory of a bygone era? Do you celebrate the “end of racism” in America? If so, stop celebrating. Things are marginally better in certain areas but the job isn’t done and until we as the majority begin standing up and sticking around there will never be true justice and equality. Not because we are white saviors but because there are more of us and we hold the majority of power, money, and position in this country. When you hold more power you have the responsibility to stand beside those fighting for their own rights.

I don’t understand how issues of human dignity became political. Naivete aside, this isn’t a new phenomenon and human capital is at the foundation of what made this country. Our world is currently populated with inspirational memes, quotes, and gifs telling us it’s never too late to be more today than we were yesterday. We are constantly trying to inspire and motivate one another. What for? So we can make more money, be thinner, more organized? I can’t believe we don’t have the will to come together for the rights of all people to live safe, prosperous lives. There is enough prosperity for everyone. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated by anyone who says the only way you can win is if others lose. More so, don't delude yourself into thinking that success is something you achieve because you are fundamentally better than others. No one accomplishes anything alone. Success is a perfect storm of hard work, luck, timing, and opportunity.

I am disappointed in our resignation as a society that a person or community is to blame for their struggle without the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that generations of policy making, disproportionate representation, unintentional bias and committed nefarious acts of bias are at fault for many of the “problems” we face today in America. If you aren’t willing to stand-up and acknowledge white privilege, institutional racism, the marginalization of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, religion, and ability then I ask you to please not post on Facebook today about the many contributions and brave sacrifices of Dr. King. It’s empty and embarrassing.

It’s time to put up or shut-up friends. There’s no more room for willful ignorance. You don’t have to be red or blue to want justice for all Americans. This is not an issue of politics it is an issue of humanity. We are either going to choose to further institutionalize “otherness” or we are going to stand up in solidarity and say in the words of Dr. King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

At this point we are either a part of the problem or part of the solution.

What do you choose?

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