My son called me early yesterday morning. “Did you see the video?” he asked.
I didn’t have to ask what video he meant. The appalling video of George Floyd, an unarmed black man being ruthlessly murdered by four policemen in Minneapolis, has played over and over on television for days. His name was added to a list no one would ever want to be on—the roll call of unarmed folks murdered for the crime of being black: Breonna Taylor, Ahmoud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and so many more.
And now we have nights of protests across our cities, some of which have erupted into violence. As Dr. King once said, “The riot is the language of the unheard.”
My son, a dedicated inner-city high school teacher, told me he was really depressed about the future of our country. Me, too. But we absolutely cannot give up. We have to vote for leaders who are dedicated to working for long overdue changes to the racism built into our societal institutions– leaders who actually believe in the just administration of the rule of law and in providing opportunities for all to have access to quality education, health, jobs, and housing. Beyond voting, we must speak up and speak out about injustice wherever we see it. And we must use whatever gifts we have to lift everyone in our society up—not just those who look like us or share the same zip code.
Despite being gone for more than half a century, Dr. King’s wisdom lives on. He recognized our interdependence. One of my favorite quotes from him is: “Whatever affects one direct affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Dr. King believed that the long arc of history “bent toward justice.” But we are the ones who make history now. And the history we create will only bend toward justice if we insist on it and work to make it happen.