Today is MLK Day, and I have to work. Even though I know this will be my new normal until I return to the States, it still feels a bit odd.
I’ve been reflecting about MLK and how far American society has come as of late.
And I’ve been thinking about how far we still have to go.
As I watched the multi-cultural protests against police brutality last month, I felt hopeful and inspired. Yes, Black Lives Matter. I’m glad to see that others are publicly saying what Blacks in the US have been screaming since the days of Reconstruction: state violence against Brown bodies is real.
Then, there was the tragic killing of the two NYPD officers. The day of Officer Ramos’s funeral I wept when thinking about one of his sons, the same age as the students I teach. I couldn’t imagine having to grieve in such a public manner.
But I could imagine how one deranged Black man’s killing of two cops would be used to speak out against the protests. I can’t tell from my vantage point here in South America, but it seems as if all the needed conversations in light of the Eric Garners and Michael Browns of the world came to a halt. The protests and the protest coverage came to a halt.
But has the movement come to a halt?
I sure hope not. And in my heart of hearts, I know the movement is still continuing.
What that one deranged man did--and let’s not forget he also brutalized a Black woman when he shot her in the stomach and stole her phone before heading to NYC–is not justification for the overuse of force against the average Joe Schmoe (who is often visualized as being White).
It’s cheap to use the death of two people, who pledged to protect against the darkness that is society’s underbelly, as a way to silence all conversation about police wrongdoing.
People who blindly pledge allegiance to one side or the other without being able to see the nuance or the gray are fools, plain and simple. I ask more from my 7th graders when writing an argumentative paper, so I damn sure want more from adults on both sides of the issue.
The night before I caught my return flight to Venny, my mom and I went and saw Selma. No, the police brutality that raged on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that Bloody Sunday isn’t to those levels again, but we all saw this picture from Ferguson, right?
So, this MLK day I feel the social justice spirit that died in me after my first year of teaching slowly reigniting. I’m currently reading Just Mercy, I’m reading the latest issue of Esssence with its beautiful cover proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, and I’m thinking about what I can do not just on MLK Day but throughout the years to lessen injustice and increase equality.