Racism, Voice, and MLK Parade

I was born and raised in a white suburb of Portland, Oregon.  I went to school at Brigham Young University, a Mormon college in Provo, Utah.   I have lived in Texas for over 20 years.   I have never been judged and found lacking due to the color of my skin.

I have so many things I want to say.  So many reasons I’m OK.  I’m cool.  I’m not part of the problem.  I want to share the books I’ve read, the black friends I have, the black students I teach, and who teach me in return.  I want to tell you about all of family members who aren’t “white”.

I want to write about racism, white privilege, Martin Luther King Jr., and not sound like a white asshole prick bitch.  And I don’t know how to do that.  So, I’ll just be me.

What I know:

  • I hate a bully (there’s a pretty good story about WHY that is, HERE)
  • Racism is a brutal, insidious, and ugly form of bullying.  (read more on that:  HERE)

Monday, (Jan 15, 2017) I marched in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and attended the rally following the parade in Fort Worth, Texas.   It was a beautiful day, I like walking, I was with a good friend and her amazing daughter, and to be honest, it was a lot of fun.  Good energy, bands, music, free t-shirts and bracelets.   No real sacrifice on my part.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Rally.  Fort Worth, Texas, 2017.

The speakers at the rally were brief, which was good, as I couldn’t make out what they were saying.   Then, a young man got up and started to sing.  The crowd got quiet and still.  I was familiar with the song, but couldn’t tell you what it was.  I observed the mass of humanity crowded into Sundance Square.  I noticed the large and obvious police presence.  I am sure there was a larger security detail that I could not see.  And I thought of the violence that is directed toward people who are different.  People, for whatever reason, we fear.

And for some reason, tears came.  I thought of Dr. King.  Of his message, of his life, of his words, and of his actions.  I realize many people will try and vilify him or diminish his work over personal flaws.  I do not hold him up as a Messiah or Savior.  He was a man.  A man who brought hope.  A man with a dream.  And for having the audacity to stand up and speak up and march and sit and demand that dream, he was murdered.  Shot.  Ripped from his family, his people, and this nation.  And I don’t have words.  Sad. Doesn’t. Cover. It.

I don’t apologize for being white.  I don’t expect anyone to apologize for their gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, or any such thing.   That’s not my purpose in writing this.

Einstein, in his Essay on Racial Bias stated that racism was a “tradition” passed down through the generations. And the only way to combat this tradition was for parents to “have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and watch lest their children become influenced by this racial bias.”

So, and easy answer would be to say that I’m writing this for Dane and Cai.  But that’s not true.  They teach me more about the pervasiveness of white privilege and racial bias far more than I’ve ever taught them.

The next easy answer would be to say that I’m writing this because I’m so cool.  I marched.  I rallied.  I teach black kids.  Sure, I want everyone to think I’m cool and enlightened.  But that’s not it either.

I think, in the end, it comes back to seeing and being seen.  To having a voice.  Dr. King was, and continues to be a voice for those who cannot speak.  Those who are not heard. Those who are constantly silenced.

I need that.  The world needs that. And I am sad his voice was taken from us in such a violent and tragic manner.  I struggle every. single. day. to find my voice.  And it’s damn scary.  So, people like Dr. King help me to be brave, and I suppose I just wanted to say thank you.

So, thank you Dr. King.

mlk

Light and Love,

Big Laura

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