I was short-sighted—mostly. Over the years, I’ve come to embrace the day. I celebrate Dr. King’s life, turn a shamed and critical eye to my own shortcomings, and recommit myself to doing my part to build a more equitable world. And I applaud as many in our nation pause to consider how much more work must be done.
But then comes Tuesday … and Wednesday ….
Pretty soon, our hearts and minds turn to the weekend ahead, bemoaning the shorter break. The words of Dr. King fade into the hubbub of daily life—or worse, are dismissed, and even decried, by those who still question his work and his dream.
When it comes to racism and inequity, the past few years have been eye-opening for me. With the help of compassionate friends, I’ve worked at removing the blinders that, even now, keep me from recognizing privilege and seeing disparity. I’ve listened to those who face racism daily, both overt and subtle; I’ve come to understand how it puts up barriers and poisons (and often ends) lives.
Shockingly, as I’ve shared this journey with others, I’ve been pushed back. I’ve heard age-old excuses and rationalizations, from “I don’t see color” to “That’s just an isolated incident” to “Hey, I have black friends” to “But what about drugs/gangs/parenting/violence/all lives matter/(fill in the blank)?”
And then comes Tuesday … and Wednesday ….
That’s the challenge. That’s where the concern I had back in ’83 is realized. For many, our national commitment to equity and racial healing boils down to a single day. We post an MLK meme, we pay our annual penance, and then we move on.
That’s not the formula for meaningful change. That’s not the call to action that Dr. King set before us. His call is a daily commitment to not ignore the angry voices stirring the darkness of what was, to not surrender to the inadequacy of what is, but to strive with all our hearts for the hope of what must be.
With that commitment, let Tuesday come. Bid Wednesday dawn. Welcome Thursday and Friday and every day that we work together, that we move forward united, every race and creed, ever closer to the mountaintop.