A wise man once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” That wise man was Martin Luther King, Jr.
The month of February is devoted to celebrating and commemorating black historical figures like King, whose lives they spent fighting racism, and overcoming obstacles where they feared being beaten and mocked as if they had a bullseye on their back. However, fast forward nearly 60 years since the 1960’s civil rights movement, and the very obstacles past influential figures tried to overcome are still around. Racism is still around, and often in a subtle way. It hides beneath jokes, and masks oppressors so they’re not persecuted for their prejudice.
This modern racism comes in many forms. It comes in cultural appropriation, the exploitation of a less privileged group’s, people of color, culture by members of a dominant group, white people, who often have a little understanding of the history, experience and traditions.
It comes in police brutality and brutality against people of color. It comes in longer prison sentences, and job rejections because of a “black name”. It comes in racial profiling. It comes in a lack of diversity in schools. It comes in a lack of representation. It comes in the waves of the confederate flag in the South. It comes in various degrees and forms, but it is still around, and it is still a problem.
The United States struggles with all sorts of inequalities that derive from past prejudice, but despite the loud echoing of racists, and sexists, and other prejudiced people, equality is still a war worth fighting.
Martin Luther King, Jr., a man ahead of his time, was one of many leaders who emerged and became a sort of salvation for black lives in the 1960s. He fought against white supremacy and racism. Between 1955 and 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. helped change America. He brought to the world’s attention how unfairly blacks were treated. He, along with countless other black leaders, left an imprint in this world that will never be forgotten. It took strong leaders, a person who believed in peace and justice, to win more freedom for black Americans. He was murdered because he fought against white supremacy and racism. Yet, nearly 60 years later, his legacy is tainted by modern racism; racism many choose to ignore rather than fight.
Sure, black Americans have the right to vote and are not persecuted for being a different skin tone as often as before, but between cultural appropriation, racial slang is thrown around between white college and high school students, racial profiling, and other forms of modern racism, black Americans have fewer opportunities than white Americans.
This is why the fight against oppression is still important. It is important we identify our wrongs and our rights, our flaws and our imperfections, so we put an end to cultural appropriation, and police brutality, and longer prison sentences. We can put an end to job rejections because of “black names”, and racial profiling and lack of representation. We can burn the confederate flag, and demolish stereotypes about people of color.
The war against racism is not over, and it never will be unless we educate ourselves to call out even subtle racism. We cannot let modern racism taint the legacies of prominent black leaders who helped people of color stand where we do today.