MLK, Jr. Day Thoughts

Before I muse, here are some important social justice reads I’ve been thinking about:

Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable by Ngọc Loan Trần

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Listening to the Living and the Dead: Ruminations on #JusticeForLeelahAlcorn by b. binaohan

Special Prostitution Courts and the Myth of “Rescuing” Sex Workers by Molly Crabapple

And if you’re on Twitter, these have been some of my favorite writers and activists to follow:

@rgay
@harikondabolu
@IjeomaOluo
@tanehisicoates
@kima_jones
@Lavernecox

I’m going to write a little bit about cultural/institutional bias here. I’ll use the term “racism” because, as a white American, my race is one of my main privileges, but I think these thoughts may apply to any other: class, ability, size, orientation, sex, gender, etc. Feel free to transpose for relevance.

For a lot of people in the world, including me, it’s easy to be racist. We grow up hearing and observing jokes, headlines and microaggressions. They’re never directed toward us, so we don’t have to think about them too much, but we absorb them. They calcify in our minds and become assumptions; the assumptions become fears. In especially dangerous cases, the fears become anger, or manifest in words or actions.

Part of me is excited about this time in our history, because, thanks to the seemingly tireless work of activists of color, I feel like progress is being made, and that more and more people of privilege have opportunities to become aware of it. We can begin to chip away at those assumptions we have stuck in our heads, pulverize them and expel them. All that cultural gunk that’s been around for generations always tries to get back in, but with time and listening, we can get better and better at addressing it, taking it apart, and dismissing it. When we carry guilt (which can be powerfully constructive), we can counterbalance it with action and gratitude.

Listening to people of color is the only way to progress away from societal racism, and combating internalized racism is empowering for everyone. It’s exhilarating to realize that humor, creativity and personal power thrive when not relying on bias. Our deepest, untouched, true selves have no need for bias.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.”