MLK Day 2k17

If you haven’t read Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I highly encourage you to do so. In it, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed members of the clergy. At the end of the letter, he said this:

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

The fog is thick and suffocating. The fear is debilitating. The beauty is yet to come.

It is far too easy to misunderstand someone today. The internet has given us a new speed with which to decide to hate people we will probably never meet or speak to again. With the upcoming Women’s March, every single thing we do is full of racial tension and problems. Leaders are pulling out of the march because it isn’t intersectional enough. White women feel attacked because women of color have pointed out that we’ve been overlooked by past feminist movements. Every step forward is slowed by arguments and name-calling.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not afraid to speak my mind. It’s the reason I’ve resolved to stay away from the comment section of articles for fear of making 100+ new enemies in the span of 10 minutes. But as we approach inauguration day, and the next four years under President Trump, I’ve struggled to find my voice. How do I continue to try to fight the fog and alleviate the fear when I know my President is against me? How can I find the beauty of tomorrow when today is so ugly?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing minister, activist, and leader. During his fight for civil rights, the fog was thicker, the fear more crippling, the beauty a more distant dream. But he kept dreaming. He kept fighting. And now we celebrate his work every year on this day. And on the other 364 days, we get into fights with those who think differently, throwing around MLK quotes for our own personal gain like they’re verses from the Bible.

With America “more divided than ever before” (we seem to be forgetting the Civil War), and with our President-Elect tweeting his feelings with no filter and no intention of back-tracking polarizing statements, misunderstandings happen constantly.

The fog thickens. The fear grows stronger. The beauty moves further away.

We need to start having actual conversations with our fellow Americans, not just typing our opinions rapid fire with no intention of hearing them out or changing our stance. If we want to dissipate the fog and assuage the fear, we have to fight it together. If we want to finally reach that beautiful tomorrow, we have to get there together.

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