This week features two major happenings in the United States: (1) today’s celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and (2) the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next president. Austin Channing Brown anticipates some of the rhetoric that might get used this week:
“So, in the same week we will witness the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr and the inauguration of Trump. I am fairly certain the dominating rhetoric this week will attempt to bring these two personalities together with a thread called ‘unity’ or ‘peacefulness’ or ‘love’. It will be overtly suggested and subtly implied that walking in the steps of King requires that we lay down our concerns for the sake of such pretty words. “
Brown reflects on some of the underlying racial motivations that drove Trump to presidency. They were not always explicitly racial, but were manifested as “economic policies.”
“To make a decision to choose ones own economic security at the expense of people of color is exactly how we arrive at systemic racism. … Much of America believes there is nothing wrong with a pursuit of happiness that sacrifices the dignity of Black citizens. But I don’t have to cooperate.”
She calls us to not only consider what action we might take on inauguration day, but where we will go from there. In what ways will we pursue peace in a racially divided nation? What will our unity be based on?