I wish this MLK Day could be more festive. A real celebration of progress and accomplishments, but we are facing a bleak time. I remember attending an event in September about DACA and a panelist kept wanting to talk about this doomsday scenario and everyone–everyone–the other panelists, the audience, we kept laughing it off because it was just never going to happen. And now, groups are scrambling to prepare for the worst: raids, loss of basic rights, the mental, economic, and emotional toil of losing access to healthcare, and just the ever-encompassing fear of all the things that could happen. I am fearful of what this administration will mean to my clients and my community.
At first, I was at a loss. How could I reflect on MLK Day and what Dr. King’s struggle means when justice seems so far beyond reach? But, as I started preparing this post, two things happened–I read a fantastic article by Very Smart Brothas, imploring us to make those in power uncomfortable. And then, on Saturday, I woke up to a man not worthy of John Lewis’ acknowledgment tweeting that John Lewis was all talk.
I have met John Lewis and have heard him speak passionately, honestly, and fearlessly about the fight for civil rights. I may be an immigrant, but John Lewis shed blood for me on that bridge in Selma just as surely as he did for any person born in the U.S. So I know that we are all indebted to him for risking his life to push us towards a better society. For me, this latest tweet-storm was kind of the last straw and the push I needed to stop lamenting and start acting.
I am going to accept Rep Lewis’ call to action to seek justice. He has stated many times that where there is injustice we have a mandate, a duty, to act. A lot of people are in wait-and-see mode, which I understand. But the one thing I don’t plan to do is to normalize this administration’s bigotry and ignorance. For me that means organizing with local groups, donating money to causes that I can’t individually participate in, and not demurring my opinion when I hear or see bad behavior.
Beyond making others uncomfortable, I want to make myself uncomfortable. I want to assess certain beliefs and ideas of mine that perhaps aren’t as progressive as they should be. Self-reflection is important because it’s not just other people that are messed up; everyone has some growing to do.
And finally, it’s clear that there will be many occasions for a need to defend our community. In what ways can we get involved to stop raids? How can we help families living in fear of police and immigration? What about those who may lose their access to healthcare? Or the constant assault on reproductive justice?
There is so much to be done. Now is not the time to idly by, hoping for the best. So rather than passively mourning for what is to come, I’m preparing to fight and to defend. I hope you are too.