Awakening the Dream
By Melissa -Malcolm King
Dear America Citizens,
Today is the day that our country has set aside to recognize, and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy. In the past few years, I have become deeply disturbed by the trend that makes this day about false appearances. Individuals who wear the world’s silent blinders of hate acting with privilege ignoring others’ suffering suddenly overload social media with images and quotes. Others use this opportunity to publicly point out the need for peace but within close circles hide in the shadows . Yet, others fall into the commercialized version, donning apparel, and buying into a system that does not profit the Black community. I have had several associates tell me that this day is set aside for service and not for remembering the past.
To this end, I wish to address these sentiments today with the hope of both building bridges and doing my part to uphold Dr. King’s mission. This list is in no way the full weight of my experience. It does not tell the full story, it is merely a resume of a situation that I cannot ignore or wish away. It is a glimpse of reality beyond the blinkers of privilege and into souls of those suffering in forced silence.
Until individuals can embrace all aspects of history, and the truth can come to light, systemic racism and whitewashing will continue to evade where peace and justice should be.
- I hear you say:
Dr. King had peaceful protests and demonstrated to the world how to stand up for truth without violence.
Truth is –
While Dr. King followed in Gandhi’s footsteps, the protests were not peaceful. Dr. King and others who fought for human rights endured being attacked by dogs, sprayed with hoses, having their homes torched, and many hung and beaten to death. Dr. King’s assassination alone demonstrates that the battle was not peaceful because, just like today, Black people are at war with a system that attempts to make them a permanent underclass.
2. I hear you say – This holiday is to do service projects and help the needy. After all, Dr. King served other people, and that is what this day is all about.
Truth is – This day is a sacred commemoration of the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and civil liberties. It is also a day to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, JR, and realize that his dream is still not fulfilled today. Black people still are impacted by systemic racism and being killed because of their skin color. If you do not believe in Black Lives Matter but goes to a service project on MLK day, you must internally reflect and come to terms with your biases.
3. I hear you say – I am colorblind, and everyone is just the same to me….
Truth is – One of the worst things we can do in society is to become a people of erasure to have a more comfortable seat at the table. Our unique images and beautiful cultures should be celebrated and honored, not tolerated. Please do not erase me. Please do not wash away the blood that sits on your hands and act like I am not wounded. See me. Hear me and do not just walk from me or cross to the other side. If I am truly your brother, sister, and sibling then treat me like part of the family with honor instead of ignoring all the significant aspects of me.
4. I hear you say – Martin Luther King, Jr had a dream that one day we will be one. I love everyone, and that is how I fulfill the vision.
Truth is –
Dr. Martin Luther King began his speech by saying:
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. “
This is a call to action, not to make positive affirmations or catchy slogans. Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr gave many speeches and spoke out publicly against things that were not popular and that many deemed to be an atrocity to society. In his speech, Two Americas, he explores the constructs of systemic racism , an experience Black People still endure still today. (see link below to read the address).
Freedom does not ring with lack of ongoing action and the inability to recognize that in America we have built a system of inequality that has created a people of privilege and a people that have to continually fight to survive at the same table. It is not so much the people who wave the flags and shout profanities that intimidate and give me pause. It is all those stand in the shadows and sidelines silently supporting and watching the suffering that says the most and gives power to many.
Please do not dilute this man’s sacrifice and mission to a single day or an less than empathic attitude that does not include an action plan of genuine and honest ally ship. Likewise, please do not minimalize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s memory to a mere birthday party or a single day of service. Please take a never-ending commitment to fight against injustice, racism, and the acts of violence that continue to plague my people and community.
That after all, that is how the dream becomes a reality.
A Mad Queer Black Person living in America