Martin Luther King, Jr. did more than “march, sing, dance, and march some more”; he didn’t just talk about “a dream” but he spoke in more detail about “the Negro’s” continuing American Nightmare. White people need to talk to white people about ending institutional and structural racism. Develop a broader understanding of Dr. King’s writings and work (instead of the same tired “I Have a Dream” Speech, which is always taken out of its context). Talk about the anti-Blackness of this society which makes mothers and aunties and sisters and wives afraid for the Black men we love – and for ourselves.
But DO NOT, this morning, after the failure to indict the killer of Michael Brown, talk about how “Hope, love, justice, peace, and non-violence will always prevail. ALWAYS!” without being sensitive to how white skin privilege makes that sound when we – African Americans who are hunted and killed with no justice for our families — are still reeling from this travesty of a verdict.
Martin Luther King Jr., from Letters from a Birmingham Jail:
“Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ ”
Martin Luther King Jr. from “Souls left in darkness”
His analysis on the condition of Black life in America (written 4 years AFTER his “I Have a Dream Speech”):
“A million words will be written and spoken to dissect the ghetto outbreaks, but for a perceptive and vivid expression of culpability I would like to submit two sentences written a century ago by Victor Hugo: ‘If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.’
The policy makers of the white society have caused the darkness; they created discrimination; they created slums; they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also declare that the white man does not abide by law in the ghettos. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civil services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say boldly that if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years were calculated and were compared with the law breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man.
[…the condition of the inner cities] is discrimination, which pervades all experiences of Negro life. It pushes the Negro off the economic ladder after he has ascended a few rungs. It stultifies his initiative and insults his being. Even the few Negroes who realize economic security do not attain respect and dignity, because on upper levels discrimination closes different doors to them. Discrimination is a hell hound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.”