Dear White Folk on the Eve of the MLK Holiday

This is a post that should fall in August, but with all the noise on social media, thought it makes sense today as well.



*We* are tone deaf, color blind, and oblivious. But God knows *we* are polite.

This is a sanctuary question–it gives *us* a place to hide while ignoring the systemic cultural oppression.

#Edchat, a large community for teachers on Twitter, put this up as a possible topic this week. There should be no need for discussion, yet here *we* offer *our* rejection of the straw man as an act of atonement.

It’s not the “bigots” that are the problem, as problematic as they are–it’s *our* need to be civil when civility is the subtle tool *we* use to maintain a status quo that has resulted in a society where low SES becomes a synonym for black or brown..

Today marks the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. *We* eat it like a casserole at a potluck church dinner–soothing, warm, down-to-earth meal served in the local church basement, sharing food with the others. Then we go home.

Today also marks the murder of 14 year old Emmett Till. This is not a coincidence. But I bet more whites will celebrate King’s speech than acknowledge Emmett Till’s murder.


“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.


So here we are again, another school year, another year of hand-wringing over the test score gap–either you believe that children of color are inferior, or you believe something else might be going on.

Unless *we* believe a bigot here or there has this much effect on “our” children, *we* have to do more than out the “bigots” among us.





Right now the bigots are doing *us* a favor, relieving too many of us from our duty to dig deeper into the bigger problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.