I went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Luther Seminary today to hear Nekima Levy-Pounds speak. She preached.
Powerful words like hers are so needed today and every day.
- We are part of the solution or we are part of the problem. Our silence makes us culpable.
- We’re living off the legacy of Hubert Humphrey, but we haven’t done the work.
- Instead of compassion we’re taught to look the other way and focus on self preservation.
- We’re told to trust the law, to rely on the system. But the law gave us slavery. The system gave us Jim Crow. It gives us mass incarceration today.
- Public policy changes incrementally or not at all. Sometimes you need direct action to disrupt and get attention.
- People are not going to be Minnesota nice when their brother is killed.
- We need to personalize these injustices.
So many thoughts.
I think our problem today, especially here in Minnesota, is that we fall back on a lot of excuses instead of engaging in the hard work of racial justice.
We talk about the importance of supporting our police officers instead of acknowledging the disparities in our criminal justice system.
We complain about the disruption of protests and plea for tactics that will bring people together, when those disruptive protests are the only effective way to bring attention to the issues. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was a response to white pastors urging King to find less disruptive tactics.
The reality is that there is very real and justifiable rage in our communities of color. If you don’t know that or understand why that rage is happening, you need to listen and start understanding instead of constantly dismissing.
Many of these protests that some people bemoan and dismiss are the only reason Minneapolis isn’t burning to the ground. These protests are offering productive ways to channel that rage. The 4th Precinct Shutdown protest in Minneapolis after the police shooting of Jamar Clark is a perfect example.
This work of racial justice is hard. It’s not going to be a simple conversation on social media or a blog post. It’s going to take personal investment instead of self preservation and defense.
My favorite story that Nekima Levy-Pounds shared is from the 4th Precinct protest when they were going to shutdown I-94. She was talking about it with her 10-year-old son.
“I might be arrested tonight, are you OK with that?” Nekima asked.
Her son responded, “Can I be arrested too?”