Recently Colorado Politics published an opinion piece titled, “Would MLK have approved of identity politics?” by the Steamboat Institute's Jennifer Schubert-Akin.
The very nerve of Ms. Schubert-Akins’ claim to know what Martin Luther King, Jr., would think about anything is outrageous. That she would claim to know that he would disapprove of pointing out that racism still exists is at the very root of why we are still battling each other, not listening to each other and not able to move forward in addressing racism.
She uses the phrase, “identity politics,” in a derogatory way to spin the idea that talking about race and reversing policies that institutionalize racism are divisive ideas. I actually heard a former member of the Colorado House claim that “diversity was divisive.” On a resolution honoring MLK no less.
I won’t pretend to know what MLK would think about anything. As a white woman, I don’t have the same experiences he had and as we are all the sum of our experiences, I can’t lay claim to that. I was 4 years old when he died, so I certainly can’t claim to have ever known him, and Ms. Schubert-Akins is in the same boat as I am.
What I do know, what I do see is that we live in a world that has expectations of a person solely based on skin color. I see that people of color are treated differently, whether it is by law enforcement, or by a lack of opportunity or often both. This isn’t to say that those who are white don’t struggle, we all struggle. It’s just that my skin color has never been the reason why I struggle.
Instead of using the “identity politics” trope, I challenge my white peers to really listen to people of color about their struggles. Of the daily wear and tear of hurtful language being used against them. Of the times when people of color are denied opportunity or even in fear for their very lives. When attempting to set the record straight on history, they are told they are wrong. When they stand up and defend themselves, it can be at the risk of injury or their life. It’s a constant battle, I can only imagine how it wears on the soul.
Representative, Colorado House District 1
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