Monday, January 18, 2016

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever

The holiday observed each year to honor Martin Luther King Jr, brings out volunteer spirit and a sense to make this a better world, and that's the kind of thing I write about here every day, so this should make me very happy. Nope. I am always happy when people step up and do good things, but as the day begins, I find it frustrating that so many young Black men have lost their lives in the years since Dr King's was so senselessly taken. Black lives matter? That's not how it looks!  If you think that Black people are no longer oppressed in this country, you must have your eyes closed.

Don't get me started about all lives matter. I have said that before here, and of course it is true, but my African American sisters and brothers are being killed in the streets, and not enough people even care. Add to that the folks who are just barely making it due to underemployment, racism, transphobia (yes, so many transgender hate crimes are against Blacks and other people of color), sexism, and so many other obstacles, that I sometimes wonder how many people actually listened to Dr King's words.

Another frustrating thing: a few days ago I was in a coffee shop and heard a woman, who had just been looking at a store ad, say "What's an MLK Sale?" When her friend tried to explain to her, she was confused about why Martin Luther King should be memorialized by discounted bed linens. Sale prices end oppression?   I'm confused about that too.

Yes, today is a day off from work for many people, but instead of shopping, what if we used it to really make a difference. What if we used it, not just for today, but as a starting point. Let's never again sit quietly when we hear hate speech. Let's never again remain silent when police misconduct claims the lives of our brothers and sons. Let us always stand up against hate and against oppression. If we aren't doing it already, let Martin Luther King, Jr Day, be the day that we begin.

As Dr King himself said, "Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever."

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