Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lessons Not Learned From Martin Luther King Jr.

I was not feeling well yesterday and did not manage to write the post that I had planned to celebrate Martin Luther King day.  As I went through my usual perusal through feminist blogs, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many blog posts dedicated to the man and his dreams.  I have often called out the feminist community for its continued failure to deal with race in a serious and critical manner, but I must happily report that this is one time feminist bloggers did not let me down.

My happiness at the various MLK posts was very short lived. When I started looking at the comment sections, it was clear that many did not feel that it was necessary to engage.  By the time I got to Notes From A Bitch at feministing, I was positively seething with anger. It seems that despite the best efforts of blog owners, readers decided that these posts did not need any significant commentary.

I constantly receive e-mail from readers asking what they can do to challenge white privilege and my answer has not changed. After taking the time to STFU&L, the next step is to engage with POC.  If we do not speak about the issues critically and continue to pretend that they do no exist, no significant change will ever happen.  The failure to interact when the issue comes to race except to grab your pearls and announce to the world the various ways in which you are not racist gets us nowhere.

MLK day posts were the perfect opportunity for whites in the feminist community to reach out to blacks and show us that you care about our issues.  The deafening silence makes me wonder just how committed feminism is to acknowledging the legitimacy of bodies of colour.  For all of you who think that shedding a tear today as Barack Obama gets inaugurated means something think again.  Racism will not end today, tomorrow or the next day.  Nothing significant will change other than a black man is president.  Millions of black citizens will continue to be disenfranchised and you will continue to benefit from their second class citizenship.

As the tears run down your cheek and your heart swells with hope, I challenge you to look at the ways in which you support the system simply by inaction.  I challenge you to see the ways in which you refuse to be a catalyst for change.  What we do not need is more feel good slogans; we need a commitment to change and that begins by meeting each other as equals in conversations about the problems that plague society.

Damn it, why is it so hard to make the smallest effort to engage critically? It does not hurt you in anyway to acknowledge our shared humanity.  WOC have dedicated our lives to advocating feminism, even as our voices have been silenced and yet leaving a few supportive comments on a blog, on Martin Luther King day is too much.  Excuse my anger, but seriously wtf? Where is the hope if we cannot all be brought to together to celebrate the life of a man as significant as MLK?  Stop quoting his words for convenience when you need to prove that you are not racist and start living out his message.


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