One would think that a racist would hate Martin Luther King Jr. On the contrary, numbers of them love to quote him.
If your idea of a racist is White person affiliated with a White supremacist organization, then it would seem preposterous.
If we understand racists as the good, salt of the earth people, who indirectly support the maintenance of racism through cultural and institutional domains, then it makes plenty of sense.
I don’t know whether to call them “I Have a Dream” racists or “Content of Their Character” racists because there have been times I raised the issue of race/racism and taking responsibility, and a “good White person” would tell me to stop looking at race. Then, this person would prop her/himself up on a self-righteous pedestal to drop racial pearls of faux wisdom on me like, “ I don’t see race. I judge people by the content of their character.”
Last week, during days 197-202 of quitting the Bible, I thought about the upcoming holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and the ways his words have been twisted as some get out of racism jail free card for people who refuse to deal with racism. I thought about the people who add the Bible to their self-righteous colorblind rhetoric with answers to the world’s racial ills: pretend difference doesn’t exist and sing Jesus songs together.
I have a dream that these folks would stop it. Stop it now.
As a matter of fact, until they get their act together, I suggest they keep Martin Luther King Jr.’s name out of their moufs (not mouths).
These individuals in their good intentions keep racism going. Racists love Martin Luther King Jr. because they can draw upon his words as a shield. The underlying message they communicate is: ”How could I be racist when I am aligned with MLK Jr.’s dream. I don’t see color, so you are the racist who keeps bringing it up.”
For some reason they think “see” and “judge” are one in the same.
Upon meeting someone, we cannot see “character.” It takes more than first glance to assess and evaluate character. Depending upon the health of one’s eyesight, we can see skin color, hair texture, hair color, eye shape, eye color, lips, teeth, facial structure, height, clothes, body shape—you take in a host of markers that hint at part of someone’s identity.
What we do not see is character.
It is a lie we tell ourselves. Unless you are an empath or highly intuitive individual, you don’t see the content of someone’s character in first meeting. Typically, these individuals do not rely on visual cues to sense things about people.We need to take ourselves down a few notches out the “I Have Dream” land.
To suggest that one does not see identity markers, when we use this same vision to see the difference between glazed and chocolate donuts is illogical and ridiculous.
What is really at work, is a person who is uncomfortable with some aspect of the ways race has shaped their lives and the world and an unwillingness to examine these areas.
If you have to pretend that you do not see skin color in order to feel comfortable in this world, then you really have problem with race.
Our skin color differences are wonderful. There is no need to ignore them unless, you have some problematic beliefs and perspectives that you do not want to face.
But these really good-hearted racists, love them some MLK, Jr., Honey Chile.
Interestingly, these individuals can see race when they point out “racism against White people” or the problems in Black and Hispanic communities.
Quoting MLK Jr. (and the Bible) serves as a tactic to avoid recognizing personal responsibility concerning race/racism.
If we do not have any personal issues with race, then we would have no problem with examining our lives. If we have evolved, traveled to MLK Jr.’s mountaintop, and possessed the keys to racial kingdom, then we would not get upset at the idea of taking personal responsibility to look at how we might directly or indirectly support racism in this world.
The people I know across race who examine their beliefs/lives (in a variety of ways) do not go to great lengths to draw upon MLK Jr. to ignore the prevalence of racism in our contemporary society.
In other words, when anyone raises the issue of racism, there would be no need for defensiveness and quoting Martin Luther King Jr. because we would have nothing to hide. We would be willing to explore.
If we really want to realize the dream, then each of us would be willing to challenge whatever problematic narratives we have attached to the skin color/race. Because without doing so, our uninterrogated beliefs will unconsiously influence the ways we engage across these differences.
The future of people living without fear of each other or what the other might do to each other is more important to me than someone feeling agitated by the suggestion that despite their good intentions, they still need to examine their beliefs and actions.
Our colorblind “I Have a Dream” talk does not provide the tools for a better world.
These linguistic games prevent long-lasting progress.
The love of God moves us to stop engaging them.