Monday, January 20, 2020


Yesterday someone shared this post by author and activist Ally Henny in an online group I belong to.

Just a few reminders before y’all suddenly decide that you care about black people on MLK day on Monday: 

King died for saying whatever inspirational quote you cherry pick from his sermons, speeches, books, interviews, and everything else. 

King did not lay down his life for civil rights. He’s not Jesus. He was murdered in front of his friends. He left behind a wife and young kids. 

Posting quotes from King today is not your racism Get out of Jail Free card. If you act racist and you quote King, you are just a racist who quotes King. 

Your “black friends” will be watching you tomorrow. Know that we can spot fake from 50,000 miles away. Don’t be sentimental about black people on MLK day and racist the rest of the time. We see that mess. We note it. And we don’t trust you. 

MLK Day isn’t about you performing penitential whiteness. It’s not about showing us that you’re one of the good ones. 

When you reflect on the life and legacy of MLK,  remember that he was only 39 when he died and he should’ve lived longer. Remember that he died from white supremacy. Remember that White Supremacy kills.

One person found these words to be so “rude” that they left the group. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. For them, speaking bluntly about systemic racism was unacceptable because it was rude.


  • discourteous or impolite, especially in a deliberate way:

  •  being in a rough or unfinished state : crude. 

  •  not polite; offensive or embarrassing

  • refers to bad behavior or just plain bad manners.
  • offensively impolite or ill-mannered
  • does not conform to what society says would be polite or good manners or inappropriate subjects of discussion.

Dr. King was 39 years old when he was murdered. He left behind a wife and children. His life’s work was to challenge white supremacy and speak out against systemic racism. But we can’t talk about that because it is rude

White supremacy is more than rude, more than speaking out of turn or making people uncomfortable. It is suffering, oppression, death, torture, cheating and swindling, demeaning and defeating. It is the burning building we are all connected to in one way or another and as whites we do not get to shut people down for telling the truth about the flames.

These words* on Twitter speak to where I am today as our nation observes Dr. King’s birthday:

[someone] tried to insult me today by saying that us white people who scream about racism the loudest look in the mirror and see a racist. He is 100% right. Hate to say it but, there it is. I am a racist. I admit it and I'm committed to doing something about it. People think that being a racist equals hating Black people but that ain't it. Racism is as much about apathy and silence and ignorance as it is hate. (@spicxer)

Breaking through the apathy and silence and ignorance is not rude. It’s the only way to overcome the persistent and generational evil that we are all a part of. It can be very hard to hear. It can make us uncomfortable, angry, or sad. But it is not rude.

We cannot laud Dr. King on the one hand while silencing those who speak the same words and fight the same fight today.

*lightly edited

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