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“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” –MLK, speaking against the Vietnam War in 1967
By Jim Miller
It’s the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and we will be greeted, as is the case these days, with lots of empty gestures and vanilla rhetoric that erases the radical nature of King’s legacy and neuters the impact of his ideas. As I have noted in years past, King was not a moderate whose only idea was that we should all just get along and respect each other. He was a provocative thinker and activist who challenged the core values of our society both then and now.
King fought what he characterized as “the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism,” sought to restructure “an edifice which produces beggars,” and called for us to move forward with a “divine dissatisfaction . . . until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.”
He believed that the “whole structure must be changed” for America to be reborn as a truly humane, egalitarian, and civilized society. Only then would we have “democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action.”
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The first step to ending racism is acknowledging that most of us harbor “implicit bias,” whether we realize it or not
By Tim Donovan / AlterNet
As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as a forgiving people. We’ve enshrined the assumption of innocence in our legal code; we take pride in giving second chances to those who misstep. And when it comes to questions of bias, we follow a similar script. In American life, no one is presumed racist without cause.
People generally become racists in our minds by engaging in actions or deeds we’ve deemed as such (paging Steve Scalise). But what if that perception is inherently wrong? What if Americans — of all races, but especially white Americans — don’t deserve the benefit of our doubt?
It’s an admittedly uncomfortable question, as it puts all of us — me as I write this, you reading it, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues — under a type of scrutiny to which we’re unaccustomed. But a growing body of research suggests that this idea holds merit: Implicit racial bias undergirds our culture’s relationship with race, even as explicit displays are increasingly uncommon.