Monday, January 18, 2021 – the day set aside to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. So naturally my social media feeds were full of well meaning posts of MLK quotes and reminders that we are still called to live toward his dream. While there is nothing inherently wrong with those posts, each one left me feeling increasingly agitated as so many of them presented a one dimensional view of a multi-dimensional, multi-generational issue.
The truth is deserving of so much more than being reduced to an instagram-ready inspirational quote.
- The truth is, Martin Luther King Jr’s vision of Beloved Community – an inclusive society built upon the twin pillars economic and social justice – did not align with the status quo of generational white supremacy in our institutions.
- The truth is, history is repeating itself right in front of our eyes.
- The truth is, we have not yet learned to live with enough love and light as a society to drive out hate and darkness.
- The truth is, leaning into MLK quotes about living into the dream has never been enough, and will never be enough.
In the midst of a global health pandemic, layered with generations of systemic racism, it is time to realize that we must do better than to simply reduce the legacy of MLK to a series of quotes plucked out of his speeches and writings. The quotes themselves lose their power when removed from their intended context – a context that is ripe with the work of justice, peace, equity and non-violence. And lest we forget, the man who penned all of those quotes was murdered by the white supremacy he was trying to dismantle.
Dr. King was a challenge to the status quo. That is the simple truth in which we must find the societal challenge to finally change this part of the American narrative. It can be easy for those of us (myself included) who do not walk through life as one of the marginalized to claim shock and disbelief at the events we have watched unfold in recent months. Resist the temptation to sit in the ease of shock and disbelief. It is past time for us to come to terms with the white supremacist roots in our national systems and do the work that will lead us toward the Beloved Community.
Two days from now President Biden and Vice President Harris will take office. I believe in a politics of love and hope. I believe that under their leadership we will begin the hard work of healing that has to come before any meaningful change can occur. I also believe in the power of individuals to affect meaningful change. History has shown us in recent months that it will repeat if left to the status quo, so I know my work is to challenge that status quo with acts of love and hope in the name of justice, peace, and equity – that’s the work of a lifetime, and it is so much bigger than can ever be captured by a quote on MLK Day or any day.
Want a little inspiration to carry you through the inevitable dark and challenging places in this journey? Perhaps you’ll enjoy my personal playlist of music that feed the hope ad joy I know are the fuel for equity and justice… Politics of Hope & Joy