King believed that too many Americans, especially those in its churches, were also snoozing through a time ripe for transformation. They needed to wake up to the injustice all around them and make demands for change.
For King, waking up is not simply understanding that racism is bad; it is acknowledging that racism created generational wealth for white Americans and robbed Black Americans of the same economic boost. The racial wealth gap King highlighted in his sermon not only persists, but, according to some studies, is basically the same as it was in 1968.
On this weekend celebrating Dr. King, we make the same white mistake over and over: we venerate a man that over 50 years ago we would have run out of town. Our memory is convenient. We choose his quotes carefully.
We tend to focus on King’s impact on the thoughts of individual Americans and think of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a chance for us to disavow racist ideas. One popular quote of King’s is, “I have also decided to stick with love … Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Rejecting hate, then, becomes his entire message, and progress toward King’s dream means more Americans thinking the right things about race.
But having positive thoughts, or, at least claiming to do so, doesn’t cost anything. For African Americans, justice has always been more than affirmations of our worth. Justice encompasses economics and makes demands on the pocketbook. It was precisely King’s analysis of the economics of racism that made him controversial while he was alive.
And here is why deep change still waits and we are not healed:
But the war on “wokeness” will no doubt continue. Its power lies in its ability to erase history and context, to act as if the inequalities that persist sprang into existence haphazardly and require only redoubled efforts of the poor to bring about change. That is the reason for eliminating the discussion of the troubled parts of our history from the classroom. Learning about how our past led to the sufferings of today inevitably raises questions of present responsibility.
As long as we can control our comfort as white people, we will not address the deep change that is possible. Healing will not come.
The quotes were taken from a column by Esau McCaulley HERE.