“I must confess that 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.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, April 16, 1963
This letter was penned 53 years ago; 27 years before I was born.
I learnt about it in history class between 2005-2007 but it’s never been more apparent that we do the civil rights movement a disservice by consigning it to the history books.
Teaching the civil rights movement in history allows up to think of it as something in our past, like Rome’s sacking of Carthage, but it isn’t.
Today, black men, women, and children (children! ) are more likely to be killed by police than a white person who committed the same act or worse and then the media goes out of their way to present the black person in the worst way possible.
Black Lives Matter isn’t a trend or a hashtag; people aren’t tweeting it because it’s cool or edgy. For fuck’s sake, it’s not the #CinnamonChallenge.
Black Lives Matter is a movement which recognises that historically black lives have not mattered.It’s is comprised of parents begging you not to overlook the murders of their sons, of great-grandparents who saw MLK deliver his I Have a Dream speech and want to know when that dream will be recognised, of children who cannot comprehend why their classmate could be killed by the police for playing with a toy gun or jaywalking.
Protesters aren’t slightly inconveniencing you for shits and giggles; they’re trying to change the world and they know that the only time they get the attention they need is with civil disobedience and civil disruption. I’d like to point out that they aren’t killing people- that story about a Black Lives Matter protest blocking the path of an ambulance and resulting in the death of a critically-ill child was bollocks.
Maybe think about why a traffic jam irritates you so much that you’re willing to decry a movement dedicated to justice. Are you also annoyed by Emily Davidson pinning a Votes for Women banner to the King’s horse or civil rights protesters sitting at the Greensboro lunch counter or the Stonewall riots?
So far, my friends have had three adorable little boys. I do not want them to grow up in the kind of world where this could happen to their classmates, their loved ones or their children. This has to end with us.