Martin Luther King Jr Day: A Dream Still Deferred
As we look back on 2015, MLK Day means something a little different to the black community. We experienced a year where it was open season on all blacks. Add to this, the pervasive and systemic racism that we were already trying to counteract. So, I’m conflicted this year; and, it’s a shared sentiment amongst people of color. What does this day mean to so many brown people, and have we met the expectation of hope that resonated in MLK’s dream?
For those who don’t work in retail, Martin Luther King Day means a day off from work and school. Conservatives, moderates, and liberals alike tote Martin Luther King, Jr. as a leader of peaceful activism. Communities organize parades, celebrations and block parties in his honor. On the third Monday of each year, everyone celebrates him and the achievement of his dream.
It’s ironic at best.
In a time when blacks are being killed at a rate of 7.15 per million and whites at a rate of 2.92 by our own police, have we met the expectation of that dream? Or, when numerous cis-, trans-, and pregnant black women are targeted and fall victim to police brutality; women who do not receive justice for the crimes committed against them, have we met Dr. King’s expectation of equality and justice?
When our government sustains a multimillion-dollar school-to-prison pipeline for our brown children, have we reached that dream?
When African-Americans only represent 11.5 percent of the nation's college students, and the Supreme Court hears cases that suggest that these African-American students are stealing opportunities from their Caucasian counterparts, have we arrived? (Yes, Abby, I’m thinking of you.)
With unsettling certainty, it is upsetting to realize the truth — no, we have not arrived at Dr. King’s dream.
Black people are being oppressed on all sides; there is clear collusion between the police and the judicial system. Especially this past year, justice had a color. If the defendant was blue, we should anticipate an acquittal if they are indicted at all. That is the statistical norm; not just the perception of distraught brown families without justice.
It’s ironic because justice doesn’t look much different now than it did in 1964. Where is the justice in the protected brotherhoods and well-funded unions that ensure the quick return of convicted officers? Numerous officers returned to their work after being convicted of a crime, maybe minimally demoted but still holding their badge.
It’s even more ironic in Sacramento, a city like so many others, where Sheriff Scott Jones will not do what is right by the victimized Black citizens that he represents; not until an external entity, or his Board of Supervisors, mandates immediate unbiased accountability and transparency by his office.
But, we don’t have to look to one or two examples of systemic racism. Racism is predominant at your local grocery franchise, where employees aren’t paid a livable or sustainable wage. Or, at your local mall, where corporations allow prejudiced employees to follow customers of color around a public store. Racism that okay’s corporations who fatten their portfolios of good deeds by supporting the local MLK community walk; in the same gentrified communities where they exile people of color from their homes and businesses by raising rental costs to excessive heights.
Law enforcement officers that preface any kind act towards people of color with, “See, police officers can be nice [to black people].” Meanwhile, they stand by silently as their fellow officers violate their badge and the communities that they swore to protect.
This is the oppression that led Martin Luther King, Jr. to march, sit-in, advocate, protest, utilize conscientious consumerism and, by any and all other peaceful means, challenge racism at every level of society.
Behind the Badge Breakfast
On January 8th 2016, we held a silent protest at a breakfast being held for Law Enforcement. The breakfast was created to highlight how unfairly police think they are now being treated. Referencing Baltimore and Ferguson as the vehicle that brought this unwarranted image of law enforcement.
Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged demonstrators to be peaceful and strategic; peaceful, not quiet.
In this spirit, and in Dr. king’s true memory, BLM Sacramento will continue to advocate for their community.
Adreine Ludd’s family still seeks justice, so we will continue to work until they receive the transparency and accountability that they deserve from the Sacramento Sheriff’s office. We have, and will continue to exhaust every avenue that we possess as citizens of Sacramento. We recognize that Sheriff Jones has the authority to share reports and chooses not to be transparent. According to an article released by the Sacramento Bee, a representative from the Sheriff said they my never release the dash cam videos. What are you hiding Sheriff Scott Jones?
On January 30th, at 3 pm, our actions continue; join us. Our invitation is open to all people who want to reclaim MLK Day for his legacy of social justice; not complacency. Despite our right to protest and peacefully rally, be prepared for naysayers to say that it isn’t our place. I challenge that if it isn’t your place, whose place is it?
In addition, per the community’s request, we are hosting a "Know Your Rights Workshop: How to Handle Encounters with Police" in February. In cooperation with the National Lawyers Guild, we are hosting this important opportunity to learn techniques that can protect you in these encounters. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about our future events.
Dates to Remember
1/16/2016 - MLK Poor People's Campaign - 2016 (co-hosting)
1/30/2016 - Still Demanding Justice For Adriene Ludd!
1/31/2016 - Rummage Sale Fundraiser
2/27/2016 - Know Your Rights Workshop
#ReclaimMLK #SayHerName #BLMSacramento #BLM #BlackLivesMatter