Two Ideas to Contemplate

Welcome back to MSMS, my intrepid bloggers. Being quarantined for Covid-19 has given me time today to appreciate two miracles. I’d be remiss if I didn’t express gratitude and wonder to the scientists who found an effective vaccine for a disease that didn’t even exist three years ago today. Being fully vaccinated means that my illness is less severe than a head cold. Without research, development, and massive government investment, I might not just be laid low, I might be laid six feet under. I hope our leaders take note of the possibilities opened by such investment. We ought not wait for the next crisis to get out the checkbook again.

Of course, as it is MLK Day, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t express gratitude for an activist and thinker whose importance cannot be overstated. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” might be the purest example of persuasive writing in the English language. I hope he would be proud of the progress towards racial reconciliation the nation has made since he got involved with the movement in 1955. I know he would not hesitate to urge us to bridge important gaps that still exist. If he could speak with us today, what would he suggest we address first? What would he compliment us for having done?

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19 Responses to Two Ideas to Contemplate

  1. James Talamo says:

    I think that Mr. King would want us to address the state of policing in regards to the black community. With black people being stopped more by police, its obvious racial bias is playing a role within the decision to stop individuals. Considering this bias has been proven to exist primarily during the day, when race can be visually deducted, King would definitely see a reason to tackle this issue. He would compliment the amount of opportunities that the black community is seeing. While racial disparities still exist within these opportunities, we have succeeded in greatly reducing this disparity. To sum it up, we have done a great job, but we are no where near the point where we can stop the fight.

  2. Everett "CJ" Mason, Jr says:

    Although the pandemic is definitely the most widespread cause for concern in today’s society, I feel that Dr. King would urge us to address the racial inequalities of our society, especially since many of those inequalities gave way to the unequal deaths of people of color to white people at the beginning of the pandemic. Had we already addressed these issues, the world would truly be equal, and there would not be factors at play, such as a lack of opportunities or income that plague those of color now. Nonetheless, Dr. King would surely admire the modern-day heroes who take peaceful routes to try and bring about justice.

  3. Jordyn Hughes says:

    I think that Dr. King would have quite a few things to say about the time and all that is happening today. For starters Dr. King said that his dreams would never become a reality as far as he could see and it might be best to give up on those dreams and push to better ourselves in the here and now (respective to his time period). However, I think he would be proud to see what the world has become. We have moved past the jim crow era and we have a wider population of people working together to push for the further liberation of black people not from chains or laws but from guns in the hands of racists in power. Which is what I think he would talk about, police brutality that takes many lives a year. I think he’d be proud of the nationwide integration and the laws meant to protect black people in america. However I also think while on the surface it seems better he would see what poc saw when he looked at america. Although we cant really know because he is not here.

  4. Alex White says:

    I believe that Dr. King would be proud in the amount of progress the nation has made in racial equality. Unlike when Dr. King was alive, America is completely desegregated, and all schools have integrated. Nowadays there is more national acceptance of the African American community and culture which is something that he strove for throughout his life. While America has made some big strides, that is not to say that it is perfect. There are still many racial issues in today’s society that he would address. The first thing he would address though is police brutality to the black community. In recent years police violence against African Americans has risen. It feels as if you cannot turn on a news channel without hearing of an African American losing their life to the people who have sworn to protect us. Dr. King would recognize that this is a serious problem that needs an immediate solution and I think he would put all his effort into finding an answer. Alas, he is no longer here, so it is up to us to come together as a nation and solve this problem.

  5. Raegan Calvert says:

    While I do agree that Dr. King would appreciate the progress we have made in racial equality over time, America is still very much in need of changes. Many of Dr. King’s ideas have been misconstrued and altered to push a white narrative in this country, and it is important that we recognize that equality is not the goal in today’s America; equity is. Many laws in this country are still based on the idea that black/brown bodies are less than white bodies; see that the 13th amendment completely abolishes slavery excluding those in jail/prison. However, we have an issue of mass incarceration in this country especially when POC are incarcerated disproportionately compared to white people for the same crime. This is just one example of systemic racism, and it proves that even when POC (specifically black men and women) are given the same resources, they do not have the same privilege as white people in America. Many people will point to the “I Have a Dream” speech by MLK as a way to belittle the protests made against systemic racism today. When a certain group of people have seen themselves or their loved ones targeted by the very people who are meant to protect them, it is not unreasonable for them to fight back. We should not question whether these protests are “justified,” we should question why it has gotten to the point that POC do not trust the government enough to give them justice unless they protest. There have been many social changes in America, and open, blatant racism has become quite taboo in most places in this country, but if the systems in place still inherently discriminate against POC, we have not done enough.

    Resources on (past or present) racist systems in America:

    Mass Incarceration:
    https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195396607/obo-9780195396607-0033.xml#obo-9780195396607-0033-bibItem-0004

    Reagan’s War on Drugs:
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/war-on-drugs

    Prison-Industrial Complex:
    https://sites.tufts.edu/prisondivestment/the-pic-and-mass-incarceration/

    Redlining:
    https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/redlining.asp

  6. Arika Gardner says:

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would be happy of the changes that has happen, but very disappointed in the amount of progress we have and the ongoing inequalities. I would assume he would have though America would be farther politically. America needs reform legislatively. Some laws need to be reevaluated because so are made to prevent African Americans from being involved in the system. Also, there is a mass majority of White politicians and they tend to be very old. We need newer and modern ideas to help America progress. We do not need someone 60 and up making decisions for a generation they may not even live see, and their ideas tend to be older. There are still many problems in American and Dr.King would definitely point them out if he saw today’s America.

  7. Addie says:

    I believe that Dr. King would be very proud of the current country’s accomplishments, but also know that we still have a long way to go. He would most likely have thought that our views politically and socially have changed, but seeing us now would most likely be saddened. Dr. King knows that equality is a restless battle, and now more than ever America needs to put up both sides and just try to join together to recognize the state we are in, and to further fix it.

  8. Madison Echols says:

    In the final days of his life, Martin Luther King had a profound conversation with entertainer Harry Belafonte in Belafonte’s New York apartment.

    He said, “What deeply troubles me now is that for all the steps we’ve taken toward integration, I’ve come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house. I’m afraid America may be losing what moral vision she had.”

    When Belafonte asks him what that meant they should do, Dr. King replies: “I guess we’re just going to have to become firemen.”

    This quote alone tells us what he would want us to do now to continue to close the gap for racial equality and equity. I see the burning house metaphor as Dr. King expressing that the qualities of freedom, security, and opportunities in America’s original vision were never intended to apply to minorities. Still, through Dr. King, African-Americans were integrating into that world. In response to Belafonte questioning the burning house, Dr. King says we must “become firemen.” He is saying that before we can effectively continue to address America’s racial problems, people of color must first metaphorically suit up in protective gear by becoming secure in themselves. Then, they will be able to address the issue of race in America like a fireman would a burning house.

    He’d want the people of color in America to forego the need for white validation and instead look within themselves for acceptance.

    Don’t get me wrong; I believe that Dr. King would be pleased to see the strides the people in this country have taken towards racial equity and equality. For example, seeing his goal of integration come to fruition is sure to bring him satisfaction.

    But I also think Dr. King understood that countless African-Americans were raised to believe they were inferior and lived without educational or economic opportunities. So, regardless of all of the work and reform movements, the current role race plays in society will never be erased without a complete upheaval of America as we know it. He should know this the best. After all, once he began acting towards this massive shift in America, he was assassinated. Based on the history of black activists being assassinated before making the necessary changes to American systems for true equality, equality in America is like a vertical asymptote– you can get infinitely close to it, but it will never be achieved. And without inward validation, the work towards this immeasurable goal will never be enough to bring satisfaction; the reforms will never be enough to bring satisfaction; amendments will never be enough to bring satisfaction.

    While this perspective might come off as discouraging, Dr. King did not mean to stop fighting for what’s right through this metaphor. Of course, we can always make the world a better place for the next generation. It would be ignorant to believe that self-acceptance negates the injustices that African-Americans still face, like, as many have mentioned, police brutality, lack of opportunity, and poverty. Working towards reform will bring us closer to equality. Still, in doing so, I believe that Dr. King would want us to be content in ourselves even if there is pushback. Being content with yourself and knowing your value, even when society does not treat you that way, offers peace and tenacity that will fuel us to continue challenging the racist systems in this country and creating a more just society for future generations.

  9. Bill+Arnoldus says:

    Mr. King would address African American on African American violence. African Americans account for roughly half of the nation’s homicide victims and roughly half of the offenders.
    He would compliment America for removing segregation and Jim Crow Laws as well as major cooperations and companies being inclusive if not downright celebrating other races. For example, Disney and Marvel has been more inclusive in the amount of cultures and races they represent in movies.

  10. sephora poteau says:

    Dr. King would have a lot to say about our current social situation. His main goal in his movement was not just racial equality, but also social equality. He advocated for the rights of workers, specifically racially targeted black workers, and he wished those in power would help them. Before being able to state how he truly feels about our current social environment, he would study to see if anything changed. When he studies this, he would see how schools have maximized the school —> prison pipeline, how slavery still exists within incarceration institutions, and how capitalism has made people even more divided than before. Those who are mega-rich have amounts of money that was unimaginable during King’s time and others have to deal with extreme bouts of poverty. He may look at us and ask “Has anything really changed.” Systems of oppression instated during the beginnings of slavery still are active today. New ‘flavors’ of racism abound throughout the country. There are better things too, the desegregation of schools and neighborhoods and less scrutiny for things like interracial marriage, but those only go so far until we remember the systematic oppression of minorities (specifically black people) that resides within districts, and states all over America.

  11. Martin Luther King followed injustices, firm in his beliefs, and was determined to negotiate and create action. While it is easy to focus on the positive side of things and shield ourselves from injustices we see today, we should be like Dr. King in following the unjustness. We have come a long way, and I believe Dr. King would be very proud and amazed at the work that has been done and the eyes that have been opened. The political integration, especially the first black president, would impress him. He believed in the brotherhood of all races, and I hope the closely made relationships between all colors seen today would make him proud. I know, however, that his calling to address the existing prejudice would lead him to the works still left undone in the world. Dr. King would feel a calling to many issues today, like the biased views in the justice system, job industries, and education system. Racism still appears. It is currently Black History Month, but even as we go into March of 2022, Dr. King’s dream should not be forgotten. Every day we must keep black history with us and question what we see today. Celebrations of the obstacles overcome are necessary, but we should not overlook the work that still needs to be done.

  12. Jon+Kiesel says:

    Where to start,

    I think it would make sense for Dr. King to have already said something about the start of the most polarizing division that we still have today, the 2016 election. Whether he would’ve been for or against trump at the time is a contentious question at, but I think he would’ve been moderate and largely argued for a unity within the whole nation. The death of George Floyd was also a large spark, so I think he would’ve been against both police brutality but also against the riots as well. I also think he would’ve turned completely against trump after what happened during January 6th of last year. As of right now, the biggest issue is dealing with Ukraine, but seeing that MLK wouldn’t be that much involved in foreign policy, I think now he would only be left to say something about the Covid-19 since he would likely be a grumpy old man still complaining about how long it’s been lasting.

    He also would be quite proud that we’ve had a black president in the last decade and that the BLM riots seen to have stopped, which he would of course be for their message but against their means of action.

  13. Hong Zheng says:

    Martin Luther King was all about racial inequality. In this time of distrust for each other, he would urge others to make peace and remember that we all bled red. As a pacifist, he would deny and reject violent behaviors and get his thought across through words. While yes the racial progression for this country has gone a long way, there is still much conflict. The road to equality for the United States and for the rest of the world is far from over. Many countries like China and India are still pro-slave. I think he would spread his ideology as a missionary for anti-slavery along with his group of people. If Martin Luther King was alive today, I think he would be proud of our progress, but disappointed of the use for racism when in a pinch or the acts of racism during this pandemic

  14. Jeremiah McClain says:

    If MLK was still alive today, he would be disappointed in how far we’ve come. In my opinion, it is no different from when he was alive. People of color are still victims of police brutality and unfair judicial systems. George Floyd and Elijah McClain are proof of this. And all of the progress that people claim to speak about is completely omitted by the heavy incarceration rates, prejudice and bias, stereotyping, profiling, slurs, redlining, and the aforementioned police brutality.

  15. Jay De Ochoa says:

    As most people have mentioned, Martin Luther King would likely suggest that we should address the relationship between police officers and people of color, specifically, African-Americans. You are living under a boulder if you don’t know of the serious issue that black people have faced in America for what feels like forever. It has been over fifty years since MLK spoke of his dream, one where he pictured a society that was free of prejudice and judgment. Unfortunately, police are among the many groups that do not represent the society that King hoped we would live in. Additionally, the American government and the incarceration system are in turmoil. Not only are black Americans incarcerated at five times the rate of white Americans, but even when they are not jailed they are forced to deal with racist systems. Just making a trip to their retail store to shop can be a problem. That said, America has made some progress since King’s speech. King would likely commend America for being more ‘woke’ or at least seeming to be. Social media has made it easy for different generations to gain access to valuable information and learn more about the racial injustices in America. I can gladly say that TikTok and Instagram are among some of the apps that I have utilized to share credible information regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement as well as other issues including the lack of resources for Indigenous people in America. All in all, America may be more educated about racial issues but it still has much work to be done to fight against them.

  16. Laya says:

    If Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive today, I believe that he would be grateful for how far we as a society have come. However, there is still much more to go. I also think he would be both proud and a little disappointed in some parts of activist movements. As an activist, he would be proud of what it stood for and how much awareness it has brought to the country, but as a pacifist, some of the riots may not coincide with MLK’s ways to justice. If he were still alive today, I think he would definitely try to work with all POC to first achieve the POC togetherness that is lacking. With the unity of all people of color, I believe a valid milestone would be achieved for MLK and society.

  17. Christina Zhang says:

    Martin Luther King is one of the world’s most influential activists and movement leaders. King championed the idea of abolishing racial discrimination in many areas including voting, public transportation, employment, and education. His work, along with that of many other black activists, has made large improvement in basic civil rights and societal progress. But nevertheless, there is still much progress that can be made. A huge issue happening right now in most major American cities is that of gentrification, where wealthy (typically white) people move into economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, causing property values to go up and displacement of current (typically POC) inhabitants. Gentrification disproportionately harms minorities in comparison to whites, increases socioeconomic and racial segregation within cities, and fosters discriminatory behavior by people in power. If King was still with us today, I would like to see him combat and raise awareness for this issue.

  18. Dr. King would be proud of the changes that occurred over time, but I feel he would question why we have not moved further in certain aspects. He would be proud of the influence his movement had on society but be disappointed in the ways we have not advanced. There are still racial inequalities that occur in day-to-day life that could be improved with unity. There is still plenty of work to be done and if he were still here, he would put matters into place. Because he is no longer here, he would want us to make the change and progress together.

  19. Hangila Ceesay says:

    Dr. King would applaud us for being a more physically racially integrated society. However, he would deplore the fact that racism still lies at the core of many American views, but it is now expressed in more inexplicit ways. With things such as systemic racism and oppression persisting within the American educational system, the brutality that African Americans face in the hands of police officers, and the many other forms of cruelty that Africans Americans still endure, it is difficult to say that much has changed.

    However, beyond the powers of white Americans, African Americans have been able to organize more ways to protest the brutality that they have endured, with many efforts gaining traction with the power of social media. Issues still arise from the fact that much of the political activism that has gained said traction within the past few years has been perceived as performative activism done out of fear of being called out for not supporting the movements like Black Lives Matter. Nonetheless, I think the new wave of political activism is something else that Dr. King could look to and applaud as progress in American society.

    Dr. King may suggest that us African Americans become more unified to achieve more progress inside and outside of the race. In the years following Dr. King’s assassination, an increasing rift between African Americans began to emerge. While this rift has always existed (like the rift between more radical protestors and peaceful ones in the Civil Rights Era), this divide became a more psychological based one. African Americans now frequently separate themselves into different subgroups, such as light vs. dark, young vs. old, and even smaller details like straighter hair vs. curlier hair, with many reverting to the self-hating ways that had been ingrained into us since we set foot in this country. These forms of self-hatred also existed long before modern times, but it had definitely dwindled in an effort for African Americans to be more unified against the oppressive policies that white Americans put in place throughout the years. Because of this, I think Dr. King would want us to unify our own people first before trying to unify the entire broken American society.

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