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Dear White People, Before You Post Dr. King Quotes To Make Yourself Feel Good…

Monday, January 15, 2018, marks the birthdate and a day that many in the nation will observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the dedication and sacrifices he made as a civil rights activist. I will not use this blog to detail the important and honorable aspects of Dr. King’s life as countless details are readily available in books, online articles, magazines, videos, documentaries, and museums. I recall as a young girl being taught about Martin Luther King Jr. marching, preaching, and pushing a nation towards freedom. Dr. King is often cast as docile, peaceful and in contrast to a what some considered a more radical activist during his time, Malcolm X.

White America has created a Martin Luther King Jr. that it can stomach. White America has whitewashed Martin Luther King Jr. just enough that when it comes time to speak about race relations, Dr. King’s words are the first that they turn to, just add I Have A Dream Speech and stir. White America is quick to quote Dr. King when they are attempting to ‘put Black America in its place’ when Black America is demanding justice. White America has  watered down the message of Dr. King so severely that one minute according to Trump, Africa is a shithole and the next minute Trump can quote lines from Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech without batting an eye.

So, before you rush to Google on Monday to search for a quote that you can tweet by Dr. King, I would ask that you look at the totality of his life and message and hold it up to the way you live your life. Do not merely quote words that make you feel good and do not challenge your thinking and actions. Do not tweet quotes that are nothing more than a Twitter performance when in actuality you have done nothing to support the causes that impact Black America. Do not use Dr. King’s quotes as a way to “check” Black America. Do not ask Black America, “What would Martin Luther King Jr. do?” when it was White America that killed him.


When you want to tell Black America, there is a better way of protesting be reminded that Dr. King said: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

When you tell Black America, “Well it’s the law,” be reminded that Dr. King said, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

When you ask us why we are fighting for justice be reminded that Dr. King said, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”


When you are quick to speak about Dr. King’s dream be reminded that Dr. King also said, “About two years ago now, I stood with many of you who stood there in person and all of you who were there in spirit before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. As I came to the end of my speech there, I tried to tell the nation about a dream I had. I must confess to you this morning that since that sweltering August afternoon in 1963, my dream has often turned into a nightmare. I’ve seen my dream shattered as I’ve walked the streets of Chicago and see Negroes, young men, and women, with a sense of utter hopelessness because they can’t find any jobs. I’ve seen my dream shattered as I’ve been through Appalachia, and I’ve seen my white brothers along with Negroes living in poverty. And I’m concerned about white poverty as much as I’m concerned about Negro poverty.”

When you condemn Black men and women, who have fought for this country and still can’t find peace and justice in America, remember that Dr. King said, “So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”

When you question as to why we are STILL fighting for just remember Dr. King said these words over 55 years ago and not much has changed, “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”


When you want us to sit down and remain silent and just be content remember that Dr. King said, It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

When you ask Black people why we protest when our brothers and sister are murdered by the police, remember that Dr. King said, “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true. So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas! We’re going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!”

When you question why Colin Kaepernick is kneeling and say that you don’t disagree with him but just wish the protests were done a different way, when you ask me to “tone down” my blog so I don’t offend White people, remember Dr. King said, “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. 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. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

When you refuse to use your voice and privilege to challenge racism, when your first response to injustice is “not me” or “not all” remember Dr. King said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

I challenge you on this coming Martin Luther King Jr. Day to move beyond as Dr. King’s daughter, Bernice King, stated, “#MLK Lite.” What are you doing to become the dream that Martin spoke about? How are you using your voice to spread a message of peace, love and compassion? How are you using your wisdom to educate others about racism and injustice? How are you using your privilege and power to stand up for others? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has left his legacy. What will you do to leave yours?




118 replies »

  1. There’s so much truth in this post. Even the “I Have a Dream” speech though is a speech that is potent and tough when I listen to it completely. I listened to it yesterday and was sobbing because many of the things he said in that speech are still true today (including some of the negative things).

    • I was talking to my daughter and I told her if we pretended we didn’t know when the I Have A Dream speech was given, it would STILL pertain to today and that is shameful. I am sure Dr.King thought SURELY by 2018 they will get it and yet here we are. So now I sit thinking, SURELY by 2073 (55 years later/55 years since the I Have A Dream Speech) they will get it. Honestly, I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet but all we can do is keep trying and keep working to leave our own personal legacy or righteousness.

      • I’m not sure if Dr. King thought that we/they will get it by 2018 though. Part of his point was about how slavery ended 100 years ago, yet there were so many problems (that the people in Alabama can’t vote and that the people in New York have nothing to vote for).

        I do hope that we will truly get it by 2073 at least. Here’s to hoping that. I’m not sure if those hopes will come true though.

      • I don’t think us white people will ever get it according to black people. We try and try but it will never be good enough for most of them.

      • Are you doing it for the approval of Black people or to make this world a better place? What is your motivation? There will be no cookies. None. You simply do the work. To make that comment on this particular blog about a man who was murdered before he could see some of the fruit of his work is quite bold. Yet he continued on fighting knowing he may not ever see the things he was fighting for. So again, what is your motivation. Check your heart before you come here with a woe is me comment. Woe is all of us if that is your attitude. If you are done feeling like that perhaps read my blog There Will Be No Cookies. None. I am fighting at a time when I have to tell my daughter I am certain I will not see what I am fighting for but maybe you will. So tell me again about “never being good enough.” Check yourself.

  2. “Dear white people”, “white America is quick to quote”?

    As a white person I acknowledge racism existed & indeed still does exist in various forms.

    It seems that you’re saying “a white person” [ to put black American’s in their place ]can’t read & quote MLK’s words correctly [ presumably because they’re not black ].

    I say this because you’re not being specific as to which white person quoted MLK incorrectly.

    Did I understand you right or did I get something wrong? Before I ‘write some shit’ I wanted to make sure there is a chance we can impart some wisdom to each other and the best way to do that is for me to understand exactly what you are saying in your post.


      • I will never get how so many white men can read something like this and the only thing they come away with is “wait, not ALL white people”. And then you take your white male bravado up a notch by offering to impart some wisdom if the little lady can only moderate her words and explain it in a way you approve of. You are the person MLK was talking about in many of these quotes and you don’t even see it.

    • What would King say about Philadelphia! 1978, 1985 and this Wed 1/15/18. Political Prisoners enslaved in prison 40 years. BOMBED , BOMBED with 4 lbs if C4 supplied by the ATF,killing woman and children. That was 1985, so you tell me what has changed, what country do you live in. IGNORANCE is speaking on something you know little about

    • Which white person? It’s all of us. You still benefit from the labors of Black people, past and present. White culture lumps all Black people together, yet we want to be individually recognized.
      Please do more reading on the matter, it sounds like you truly want to understand, but you have to do the work, and not expect a Black person to lay it out for you. If you truly want to start fixing racism in this country, you bear the burden of learning how you knowingly and unknowingly contribute to it.

      • I’m confuse, you are saying white people should not appreciate MLK. Then say we don’t do enough!

      • And after you read it again show me where I said, “White people should not appreciate MLK.” Don’t read to respond, read to comprehend and that may take some time because it is going to take you looking at you. What you posted above is a quick response. And it is a response that comes from a place you may not want to truly face yet.

    • My guess, sir, is that no, there is not “a chance we can impart some wisdom to each other.” Because that is not the goal of this post. You are not being asked to impart. You are asked to have an internal dialogue with yourself, to examine, to contemplate, to challenge your own assumptions. You are asked to listen and think. The fact that you feel immediately compelled to critique what you feel are weaknesses in the author’s premise (“you’re not being specific which white person…”), instead of turning that critique inward, is exactly the problem. Don’t impart. Listen.

  3. I read it twice. If you are not interested in having your affirmations tested that’s cool. I’ll wish you the best and leave it at that.


  4. That diatribe is spot on. What would King say if he was in Philadelphia 1978, 1985 the trails, Munmia, the injustices. Rizzo, that statue. The unforgettable fire !! Free the Move 9.
    The fact that we have to have this discussion in 2018 is absolutly nauseating. Yet, Philly will act as if they honor King, Yet they will not acknowlege their racist injustice system.

    • Don’t even get me started. I only saw the documentary Let The Fire Burn and I was horrified. I want to say it’s unbelievable but it seems this is par for the course. I’m not sure if you watched the documentary but if so did you see how that White policeman was vilified for saving a Black child? The aftermath of this was incredible. Watching that I understood why every “Black Harlem” or “Black Wall Street” was destroyed. There is a fear of Black people coming into their own.

      And I agree the fact we are STILL having this SAME conversation is appalling.

      • You saw the film.
        Some of us lived there then.
        Some of us came of age then.
        And some of us were white and equally devastated.
        And some of us were female, and some of us gay, and we’re all still being hated and told to wait for admission to the human race.
        We heard MLK live give his speeches.
        We graduated to our valdictorian giving black power speeches, but, once our friends, now no longer talking to us.
        Don’t fall for the forces that divide us.
        Don’t let them convince you we aren’t in this together, struggling to understand one another, to support one another.
        Because, the message from MLK WAS that we are one, and must find our way to that goal.

      • Please look at the totality of the message and not just making the focus about you until you get to the part of what are you doing then it is about you. And I don’t need a list of what you are doing. You know what you are doing to make a difference. That is what matters. If you are fighting, continue on.

    • 1985 trials of a man who failed a parafin test and was yelling I’m glad I killed him while being sent to the hospital. The list goes on when it comes to objective fact relating to his guilt. I do not get it.
      So, does Mummia’s blackness absolve him from murder?

  5. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his book Stride Toward Freedom page 6:

    “A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.”

    • And yet it seems that hatred and assumption govern so many of our actions regardless of skin color. Everyone tend to themselves. Focus on strengthening and conditioning your inner world. Work hard. Stop pointing fingers. Love, with action. With restraint. With decency and courage and kindness. That’s what wins the long war. That’s why Malcolm X’s Message has long lost its appeal and why those like Dr. King and Ghandi and Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa have messages that move us still. They are messages of active love and active internal struggle to do what is difficult over what is convenient.

      • It might help to be a little more specific.
        Some may already know (or think we do), but others may need you to tell them exactly what you mean by “something”.

      • There are over 200 blogs here that can help them. If you are asking there is a Baldwin blog I would start with and then keep right on reading. It is all there. I am a firm believer though, people find the information they want to find. Be it this blog or the immense resources online, libraries, community groups, social media, books, documentaries, etc. Find where you fit and do something.

  6. I loved this blog it is spot on! As a white person I can say I am “not that white person” As a native Detroiter I have seen repression first hand and it still exists and I wonder why in 2018 we are still fighting for equality?!? Its insane. To those people who say, oh we have come far? Really ? No we havent.. black people might not have to sit in the back of bus anymore but its because they are ONLY ones riding it , they cant afford cars and insurance! inner city education sucks and the cycle of poverty is vicious. What do I do about? I donate my time to girls in the city, I mentor and give. I listen , I keep an open mind and argue my point ( many times for colin to take a knee) I will keep fighimg and believing in hope that one day in my life I will see real justice.

  7. So, do we have to fully engage in the civil right battle to appreciate the man and his words? Do I need to document the number of marches I’ve been involved with or start kneeling if I watch a football game? Don’t be ridiculous. He was a great man that effected great change. I can still post or discuss with honest appreciation even though I’m, ahem, white.

  8. Paradoxically, this article is quite racist itself. Teaching white people how to quote MLK correctly and saying that they are only quoting him “to make yourself feel good” is inappropriate. How would the author feel, if a white author would tell her: “Now. black girl, I’m going to teach you how to quote JFK, because, obviously, you are too stupid to do so”?

    • Alex for 2018 I am no longer explaining the word racism. There is an overwhelming amount of information on this topic. If you believe this article is racist please take some time to truly learn about racism. Thank you for reading. Good day.

  9. According to my calendar observance of MLK day is Monday, Jan. 21st not the 15th. just sayin’

    • You would be correct, Rev. Clark. However if you check the date of my blog, I wrote this last year so in fact, my blog is correct. However, no matter the date, the sentiment doesn’t change. Thank you for reading.

  10. I hope that this author will consider that she is making broad assumptions about a group of people based on their race. I think that is a tendency we all have but should try to avoid. I’m concerned about any statement that starts out “x people…”.

    • I am the author and I considered everything when I wrote the article. I also assumed most people would have common sense and understand that I do not mean EVERY single White person in the world. I also assumed that people would look at the totality of the article and not get stuck on “not all” because that would be a ridiculous thing to do and not move along the conversation. So yes, I considered that. Thank you for reading.

  11. Thank you for this post. It feels like we still have such a long ways to go, especially reading some of the comments here. Either they didn’t bother to read your whole article, or they did but their heads are still so far up their butts that they can’t see the world around them as it *actually* is. I never knew much about MLK before last year, to be honest. I found a little kids book about him and got it for my daughter. We read it together, and I was born away at what he and others who fought so hard for they’re rights had to endure. And for him to still do it with love and not violence right until the end… I wonder if we white people will ever overcome our violent nature. I hope so.

  12. Thank you for this article. Thank you for educating me. I still have so much to learn and I appreciate you.

  13. I have been guilty of quoting Dr. King all month. I wanted to do it to honor his legacy…but I understand that I do not understand…nor could I ever as a white woman born into privilege. I need to sit back and listen more…learn…I need to shut up and hear.

    • I think a few people, not many, were confused when they read this and skipped over the part where I said don’t just quote Dr. King without doing anything to bring awareness to or impact issues that affect Black America. Which is often the case. We have a man in the White House that paraphrased Dr. King when it is obvious he doesn’t believe in anything Dr. King stood for. I don’t mind anyone quoting Dr. King but if your concern and action stop there or you live a life completely opposite of what Dr. King stood for that is the problem. If your understanding of Dr. King is only one speech, that is an issue. For many people it’s just a day to post a meme. Having said that I appreciate your willingness to listen. Thank you.

      • I never want to be one of the white moderates, of which Dr. King speaks. I’ll re-quote because these words a wake-up call to most of us:
        “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. 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. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

      • That is one of my favorite quotes. And it is very true. And I have seen that even on this blog. Some people don’t want to discuss the content of blog, they want to discuss the title. That is where they want to put their “concern” instead of face anything that Dr. King said in the blog. Because that is the easy route. That means they don’t have to look at themselves they can say, “Oh let’s focus on the title,” instead of “Let’s focus on what this blog is trying to teach us.” That would mean they would have to look at themselves and that is hard so instead there is this shallow outrage at the title and even more shallow understanding. I appreciate those that have read it and get it and didn’t take the easy way out. Thank you.

  14. Hannah,

    I’m a white man. Thank you for your power and eloquence. I love your blog, follow it, and appreciate the effort you take in crafting your posts. Through your words, I learn some of the anger and frustration that you feel.

    You have written so much here and there is so much to unpack that I do not think that I can fully respond in a comment so I will not try beyond what I just wrote and to commit to you, and to all of your Black brethren (whatever the gender neutral term would be!) that I will continue to keep my heart open to what you say, and continue to ACT on your behalf.

    I read your comment above about considering all of what you wrote. That you still wrote about “White America” as a homogeneous group and Trump as its representative speaks volumes to your anger. I hope that you will hear me when I tell you that I am offended to be lumped into a group with people who agree with Trump.

    — Art Z.

  15. You feel white people have misused and misunderstood MLK Jr. I agree. You feel racism still prevails and is not recognized or acted against by white people, in general. I agree. You feel the irresponsible posting of quotes doesn’t make up for the centuries of social injustice or move us in a direction of understanding or change and I also agree. You feel white people should be enraged at the inaction of our people to make progress and I agree.

    As a white person who is in agreement with your article, I’m wondering if the fight You are enticing is one where we retaliate by, as someone said, quoting the number of marches we have been to or documenting our efforts, in an attempt to prove we ourselves are also trying to fight… or if you are really trying to encite an overgeneralized, societal “white” change of mind. If it is the former, then as white people, I feel we must understand and listen to your rage, accepting that we are a part of a group who has oppressed your people. We listen with love. If it is the latter, then I suggest you focus your rage on something more specific than white people posting quotes. Some of us have no idea what to do, as members of a group that, in this case, does not represent us, and posting a quote sends a message to our white communities, that we are standing on the side of love, but also really desiring change as well. It sends a message for who we are and what we believe and it shows our support and respect, because we are TRYING to do SOMETHING, when we too, feel discouraged by the lack of change and often have no idea how to proceed in these difficult times. So, I would say that while some post to make themselves feel better, some post because they don’t feel better, and want to show support.

    You could have made an alternate suggestion to the post. If posting the quote is meaningless to you, it’s understandable. But to some of us, (like myself, in a southern bible belt of Trump supporters) it shows that we are tired of the bull shit and we aren’t on their side.

    • You read all that and still you are suggesting where I should focus my rage? And then told me to make an alternate suggestion post. After reading all that.

      • Also, because I am highly curious, what part in this blog did you see rage from me? I am curious what you are considering “rage” because often the truth is mistaken by some people as rage or anger.

      • What suggestion do you have then? From what I read, the only suggestion is that people should see the injustice, but only express what they see in a way that formulates to exactly how you see fit? Yes, people misuse MLK quotes. Yes, white privileged people need to open their eyes. How? You seem to suggest that eyes are opened by being silent and listening and yet, you say DO SOMETHING. Which is it? Should I stay silent, or should I be vocal in my own community, in my own, white, Trump world where I live? I’m surrounded by assholes and I do what I can, but I am not the only white person who feels isolated in a Trump world. What is it you need all white people to do? And is this action collective? If so, then how do I collectively change white minds? Or is it individualized by where we are and how we need to fight. And if so, then some of us are going to post quotes. I don’t think anyone who reads you would disagree on your views and yet you feel the need to isolate, based on overgeneralized ideas of race. The conversation is so much more complex than that and you are not inviting it. Society and the history of racism is multifaceted and multidimensional and we fight in many different ways every day. Are you not in rage about the misuse of MLK quotes? I am. Are you not enraged by the state of things and is it not rage that pushes you to write? It is rage that pushes me to not stand when my all white students stand up with their hands on their heart, saying the pledge to a country that only seems to serve THEM. You need not make an alternate post of suggestions, because it is obvious that suggestions or listening or creating an open dialogue is not what you are looking for. You seem to look for an outlet for the experiences that racism has given you and PREACH ON. The people that you would like to read this are not reading it.

        I would just like to know what are you doing, that works better than what I am doing? I cannot be a minority. My white son cannot be a minority. No.. I won’t use the “not all white people.. ” approach because I have seen first hand how I did not even realize that I was privileged and what that afforded me or my children. Also, I agree that using that argument shows ignorance and lack of motivation to make real change. However, why focus on such an overgeneralized idea and why not start a genuine dialogue? There are white people who don’t understand racism. Period. How could we? There are also white people who are trying, by clicking “share” on posts, because they have no idea what else to do and are often isolated in communities of hate (speaking of being in the Dirty South) and we just want to do SOMETHING. Your argument seems so misdirected.

      • There are over 200 blogs here that can point you in a direction that will help if you want to know suggestions. Also outside of my blog there is endless information online.

        I am not going to give you a list of what I am doing nor do I need a list of what you are doing. What good would that serve either of us? Just do something. And as I said if you need help finding a starting place read through this blog. There is a great one on Baldwin that might answer some of your questions.

  16. “Peace, Love, Compassion” where is it in this article? Not feeling it. I get that I’m white and some how still responsible slavery and segregation. I get that I need to reread Dr. Kings speech over. I get that it doesn’t matter that I feel like, I don’t know what to do doesn’t cut it. That I’m the person who wants to help, but no matter what it’s not going to messeasure. If I ask “what do you want” it sounds completely small. How do I become the white person you want me to be when I’m white.

    • I quoted Dr. King word for word the majority of the article. If his words challenge you, they should. That is precisely why I wrote it and at least 90% of the blog aren’t my words but his that apparently you aren’t feeling. What quotes would make you feel good, Terrie?

  17. Yes and no. Or more accurately–Yes–and a side comment.

    It seems to me that essential to being human is reaching out, or lifting up, something more than we are. Every preacher, writer, artist and activist reaches for what is not. So we say things like, “Walk your talk” because we notice we are not all that we uphold.

    There is always lots of contradiction. The United States is full of contradiction. There was contradiction in Dr King (I think he was human, wasn’t he). There was contradiction in how people responded to him then and now. The crowd loved Jesus and demanded him to be crucified.

    So any remembering and honoring is also going to be filled with contradiction, in my mind. And in that light your words are more than welcomed in my heart. The people that love me have been gracious to accept my ‘half-baked’ goodness–that is often less than the highest ideals I lift up. I have difficulty with those who sing praises of Dr King and of Jesus–and live otherwise. But its kind of the same difficulty I have with my own heart.

    I will go later today to some MLK day activities here in Montgomery, AL. Of course, here, it is not just MLK Day. It is Robert E Lee and MLK day. There will be a handful of white people that participate (beyond having a day off or shopping)–and there is quite a bit of “going through the motions.” But everytime, someone proclaims, “Let justice flow down like a river”–whether it is from the mouth of the ancient prophet, Amos, or from Dr MLK, or on a Facebook meme–there is an opening for truth. Sometimes slapping down the self-contradictory messengers (humanity) closes down the opportunity for a truth to break through.

  18. Hannah, thank you for your honesty, thoughts and feelings. May they touch the deep in all of us and may we respond with love and action.

  19. Why is it that only Dr King seems to be the only relevant voice on racism today? Where is this generation’s Dr King – is that you?

    I love you.

    You know – Your writing definitely outlines the glaring cultural differences in people on this planet – Perhaps making articles like this relate to the “white person” – Use “white people” examples. An example would be when yoga instructors talk about the Kundalini, or Shiva, or Krishna or some other culturally appropriated ideology, then show examples of how taking these things out of context and applying a “weird self aggrandizing spin” to them corrupts the true message and what it means to the culture and time period it was intended for?

    I love you.

    Also, have you ever noticed, the Hindu and Indians usually don’t get bent out of shape when the “stretchy-pants” wearing yoga practitioner takes “prana” severely out of context? Its funny isn’t it, I’m sure you’ve heard that at yoga class before. When most native yogis hear this they kind of just gently smile and with gentleness correct whomever it is – instead of attempting humiliate the “bad dog” with their superior spirituality. I personally believe they are on a more elevated path towards of some kind of unity in society – or maybe that’s just me.

    I love you.

    Also have you noticed with your Latino friends how you can spit jokes and stereotypes back and forth and laugh heartily, yet walk away like you’re the best friends in the world – and nobody calls the ACLU?

    I love you.

    I personally appreciate your attempts at “correcting” – what I would call – “white-awkwardness.”
    Have you considered taking a look at Ghandi, and some of his wonderful teachings to supplement your kindness to the human race?

    I love you.


    At any rate – of our “races on this planet” has to be the good example of togetherness, and I kinda feel like its probably the one that’s in the middle and kinda – uh – brown .. It’s a shame that our orange leader wants to build a wall, instead of bridge that gap.

    (Little does he know, Mexicans are some of the greatest, most intuitive engineers on the planet)

  20. As a white female cop, who sued the police department I worked for for discrimination, discrimination is out there and it crosses all differences. I am very concerned, however, with what our present administration is doing to widen that gap. Love, is the only answer. Racism and all the isms and phobias are a result of misinformation and lack of willingness to walk in another’s shoes. It’s is not “tolerance,” that needs to occur, it is absolute love and empathy. The true question is how do we obtain that? We keep on, the up and coming generations and educate them. We prosecute all who break the laws along the way (cops, clergy, teachers, and etc), and older people need to step outside your comfortable safe zones, step out of your norm and embrace the differences that make us all Americans. Americans are all races, sexes, sexual preferences, and all nationalities…you get it….we have to look at each other as Americans, not black Americans or gay Americans, Americans. When you are discriminated against, then we are all should be outraged as one American discriminated against another…that’s how this will change.

  21. Dear “white people.” Do you not see the irony of you grouping every person of a particular color together and assigning them particular undesirable motives and traits? How do you know what I personally, as a white person, have done to further the cause of black lives and to support equal and fair treatment of them? I have posted zero Martin Luther King quotes, yet I have publicly posted comments questioning and condemning another white person’s stereotypical and supremacist rhetoric. have signed petitions to free black prisoners who were unfairly sentenced and to support the just sentences of white police officers who killed innocent black people without cause. By speaking against all white people here, you presume to know me simply because of my color, which is something I do not do to every person who shares the same color as you. The pot calling the kettle black. interesting.

    • I think most people that have read this do not get stuck on “not all” and read the totality of the message. That is all I can hope for. If you are stuck on “not all White people,” this is probably not the blog for you. If you can read this and your only focus is she means all White people in the entire world, this isn’t the blog for you. And that is fine. I am not for everyone. However if you are ready to move beyond “not all” the blog is here. Hundreds of writings. Perhaps start with the one about the “Not All Posse.” Thank you for stopping by.

  22. What I found most interesting was the article’s seeming attempt to distance the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s activism from his faith. You want to write about all white people, fine – but Baptists believe in individual guilt and salvation, and your whole article is out of context with the likely beliefs of any Baptist minister with a doctoral degree in systematic theology.

    • Steward you can feel free to go back through any of Dr. King’s texts and they will align with what I wrote. The problem for many people is they don’t align with the whitewashed version of King they have created over the years. And that is why it makes people uncomfortable. Which of course is fine with me. I didn’t sign up to write to make people feel comfortable. In fact I tell people my job is to make you uncomfortable.

      I stand by what I wrote 100%. Thank you for stopping by.

  23. Wow. Powerful. Thought provoking. Beautiful.

    And sad. Sad that it seems some have misconstrued your sentiment. Sad that by doing so, they missed an opportunity to contemplate and understand a powerful message.

    I am white America. I did not take this as a personal attack of any sort. Seems to me, you’re merely asking we refrain from dutifully spitting out the words once a year, so we can then pat ourselves on the back for doing so – without taking any time to understand them. You’re suggesting that quoting King once a year does not offer him respect, or help in ensuring his message continues to be carried out.

    You’re asking that instead, at the very least, we make an honest, heartfelt attempt at understanding King’s message before sharing that quote. That we remember the fight isn’t over. That we grant King the respect he deserves by taking action to ensure his message remains alive.

    Action doesn’t always have to be in a huge form. Each little step toward understanding, awareness, empathy, can take us a long way toward achieving King’s dream.

    Thank you for reminding me, and inspiring me.

  24. I am sure Dr King would have a lot to say about the greatest killer of blacks ever. Planned Parenthood. Oh we can’t say that cause we’re too busy fighting the most important fight like getting Kap on a NFL team or accusing America of industrialized racism in today’s age. You want to know why no one is listening because its BS. Your outrage is fake at best! More black babies are killed than born in NYC yet where is your outrage?

  25. For all y’all (that’s a Missouri term) who are thrashing around looking for something to DO, here is one suggestion. Take a look at Shelly Tochuk’s Witnessing Whiteness book or website or sign up for one of the Witnessing Whitness workshops. The YWCA runs the workshops, at least here in St. Louis. I took the workshop through the YWCA and found it eye opening.

  26. I’ve read about some of the crap Martin Luther King jr. Went through. I don’t feel bad about honoring his words or his life. I totally understand his place in historical context, and his ultimate sacrifice for civil rights and liberties for the Black community. I also have read about his Christian beliefs and quotes. This man cared about everyone. His words and his fight, and sacrifice will never be forgotten. But this write up will. This write up puts him in a box.

  27. Thank you for your writing. There is much to consider. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts.

  28. Just one more thought. When we talk about our Brother Martin, let us NEVER forget he was The Rev. Dr. Marin King, Jr. a man of Faith.

  29. Hi there.

    This is an amazing dialogue you have created. A friend of mine shared it on Facebook. I stumbled upon it today and reposted it. I reposted it because I admired that you were using “your voice to spread a message of peace, love and compassion…your wisdom to educate others about racism and injustice…your privilege and power to stand up for others.”

    You will notice that these are direct quotes from your post above. I am very familiar with your post since my first exposure to it. I was unfortunately, faced with immediate reprimand and responses from friends and distant family members who read up to two paragraphs of your post and immediately took to the offense. Which, I believed, was the exact reason you wrote this post. Those who took to the offense used phrases from your first two paragraphs to be combative in their dialogue.

    In my response, I used a lot of direct quotes from your article to help them understand that they were the audience this article was speaking to you. You have amazing prose, you have an amazing message. I wanted to encourage you to inspire the masses. You are using your skills to help. The rest of us can only join the conversation in your wake.


  30. Really love everything about this article except the headline. It’s very off putting. In a world where everyone is offended by everything you say, this kind of approach can inhibit people from saying anything at all for fear of saying the wrong thing. I think that many are showing their support for the black community and sharing Dr. King Jr.’s amazing messages because they truly believe in those words, and not just to “make themselves feel good.” Would be nice to retitle it: “Before You Post Dr. King Quotes…”

    • Thank you for reading. While I hear your comment, I am not going to change the title. This blog has been read over 100,000 times in 5 days. I believe people are mature enough to read beyond the title and get to meat of the article and understand I do not mean every single White person in the entire world. If they are stuck on the title, this is the wrong blog for them. And that is okay. There are millions of blogs out there. If the title made them uncomfortable and they pressed through, that’s great.

      Black people dwell in the realm of uncomfortable every day and this nation struggles to and often times doesn’t accommodate us even after 400 years in America. I believe they can get through the title. I have faith. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  31. I think the opening – “Dear white people”
    Is being misunderstood by many people – as a divisive opening… and this is why people are being defensive. Of course this is not meant to be read and immediately put someone who is white on the defense. Many white people fought the south based on their hatred of slavery. It seems the opening for some is already putting “whites” against blacks. The perceived tone seems to be lecturing – and talking down to others.
    As a woman, we were also enslaved – and did not have rights, could not own property, could not vote and were given sold to men for a dowry or sum of money during a marriage ceremony. Women were the property of men. Women could not work nor own a bank account. My foremothers were able to to beaten and whipped legally by our husbands. The law was with a branch no thicker than her husbands thumb- hence the saying “rule of thumb”. As a person of many a mixed heritage- who cherishes and does her best to live a life of “light and love not darkness”. I will absolutely take the liberty of spreading Dr. Kings beautiful, peaceful, inspiring, loving, moving words. I will post them joyfully and with intention. I will spread them on Facebook – or on Pinterest. I will share them with my daughters – and tell them how moved I am by them. And how important and powerful their words are. I will teach them to choose their words carefully. And go spread love – and acceptance for everyone. I will plaster his words and quotes every where to spread his love. I will do this mindlessly and happily, to celebrate his spirit and keep his message alive . His forgiveness and his attitude of acceptance and tolerance.
    I will talk about the town I grew up in ~~ in Wisconsin that’s still has tunnels that were part of the Underground Railroad to help people escape from slavery.
    Not eveeyone has the luxury of time to “reflect deeply” at this very moment . Hopefully in the future I will. But in the mean time I will use the few seconds I have to spread his word like wildfire-
    Everywhere, everyone. He is a Godfather of this country, of our society. And we need his message now more than ever. My thoughts are that we should spread his light however we can. God rest his soul.
    And thank you Dr. King for all you have done . The majority of children today are more tolerant – are more accepting of each other. Most people die and are. It remembered . You will be alive in our hearts forever. ❤️❤️❤️

    • What women outside of Black women were enslaved in America? Your attempt to compare slavery to being a woman is hugely wrong. There is by far no comparison. If you are sharing that information you are doing a disservice to anyone you are sharing that with. While you say you don’t have the luxury to reflect in this very moment find some time to reflect on what you have said because it is not only wrong but insulting.

  32. In response to: Dear White People, Before You Post Dr. King Quotes To Make Yourself Feel Good…

    This article is anything but truthful. While it may represent a trending school of thought, it is nothing more than a revisionist historical diatribe by an author whose approach of division and hate is a reoccurring theme. On the surface, I will see MLK and Quote MLK as I see fit. That as a White Anglo Saxon Protestant – Male, my ancestors set fourth to create a Nation that aspired to greatness. The this Nation has sacrificed so much for freedom. To accurately address her diatribe would fill up several pages and take at least two hours and an additional hour to research the author. I am pressed for both time and space. Below are just some thoughts off the top of my head as to why this article is lackluster both socially and from an honesty in journalism perspective. If, “” is her outlet for social change then we might all be in trouble.

    1. The title is offensive. Dear White People, Before You Post Dr. King Quotes To Make Yourself Feel Good… Again, I will see MLK and Quote MLK as I see fit. If I thought I needed someone to interpret what they read and how they interpret history, I would listen to Rush Limbaugh.
    2. She claims nothing has changed since the Civil Rights Era. What a shame. I’ll leave it at that.
    3. That there are real issues affecting minorities that need to be discussed.
    4. I highly suspect that Martin would agree with me on these three assertions.
    5. While I find the article offensive, I welcome the discussion. If it were not for offense, many lies would go undefended. Again, many of the assertions she makes are erroneous and false. Intelligent journalism requires knowledge of history, diligent gathering of facts and the truth shall always be the goal.
    6. Lastly, you must know that while I am offended, it does not sway my belief in Martin Luther King Junior. I place him in the same realm of other great figures in history who sought truth, justice and freedom. Those that place the needs of others before themselves and lived and walked in the spirit of their beliefs daily. For this lesson, two people resonate; Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln.

    I leave you with two quotes to walk through the woods with and ponder upon so that you may see the forest through the trees…

    “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

    “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
    Martin Luther King Jr.

  33. Translation: If your skin is white, you don’t get to recognize and remind the world of a great man’s words because you can’t appreciate him the way the author does. This whole posting is a diatribe to how much of a generalizing racist the author is. In addition, if you do post something about MLK, everyone should assume that you have never marched in a civil rights display or done anything to support black Americans.

    The message doesn’t come off as an inspiring bit of positive steps to take towards ending racism, but rather the ignorant remarks of a self-proclaimed “mega-fan” bragging about all the bootlegs she’s collected and spouting, “You don’t even know” at all the concerts.

  34. As a white man, I do not want you to tone down your voice on this blog, but turn it up. I back you 110%! Thank you for calling society on our bullshit! We’ve lived to long in a world where this conversation has been toned down. In the last 50 years how much real progress has the black community made? I feel the needle has barely moved.

    When Obama was elected, it felt like we’ve made a huge leap forward and then the racists came out of their hiding. His opposition shut him down to put the black man in his place then on to Trump to unleash the hounds of hell fueling the flames of hate and racism. My heart breaks at what I see today.

    As I raise my two boys all I can do is teach them how to see past color. I feel blessed that my school aged son has always had black friends as his best friends. I also love that he had many black teachers in his pre-school. Having everyday connections to others different from us proves how alike we really are.

    I praise you for challenging us to be better. I am happy to help you any way I can. If you want a white male friend that is passionate about moving the needle for the black community, let me know how I can help. I want to leave a legacy of doing what is right and being the kind of man that my son’s will be proud of and hopefully the type man that is inspiring the future to continue to fight for all injustices to make the world a little better.

    Again, thank you for what you are doing. This article made my day. Happy Martin Luther King Jr day!

    Peace, Love, and Respect to you and your readers!

    • Thank you so much. You are spot on! Some people are offended and it’s for the very reasons I stated. Every quote is directly for MLK Jr. People want to whitewash his message and pretend as if he didn’t say everything I posted. He did and sadly everything he said still applies today. You are leaving a legacy by living out what MLK said and teaching your sons as well. ❤️

  35. MLK, Jr. Day is a day to remember a great man who taught reconciliation for ALL.

    SIX STEPS OF NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE (courtesy of the King Philosophy)
    The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change are based on Dr. King’s nonviolent campaigns and teachings that emphasize love in action. Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, as reviewed in the Six Principles of Nonviolence, guide these steps for social and interpersonal change.

    To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position.

    It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.

    Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.

    Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.

    These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.

    Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the ‘Beloved Community.’

  36. Thank you for your beautiful, powerful, and inspiring post. I am white America and I was not offended by a single word that you said. I am aware of my privilege. I think people get so caught up in “I’m not one of them” or even “I didn’t choose my skin color” and while those things may be true, I am still a white American. Therefore, I was born with a privilege and an advantage that I did not earn. It was automatically handed to me in this country simply by the color of my skin. The very least I can do is be aware of it and try, in some way, big or small, to use it to stand up for those who are less privileged than I am. Or maybe most importantly, to stand down when they stand up for themselves like you’ve done here.
    Share MLK posts PEOPLE, but let that not be all we do!
    Thank you for your post, thank you for educating me, and I’m sorry it is even still necessary.

  37. I’m an old white guy and I am blind and awkward and ignorant when it comes to knowing about being black in America. I am wrapped in the sheaf of my everyday life, and what might befall many black people here passes me by. My day involves me, fills my time and my mind, and when the night comes I am tired. Yet, I am not unscarred, I cry when a glint of the strife pierces my muzzy veil. I carry this pain within me too. The veil of my life lets me look away and not feel the pain we are joined by. My history has wounds too, and my present as well. Yet, I suspect that they are not as raw as your wounds may be, if you are black. And these wounds are all alive, running us like justice, like puppets, like shadows. I hope that we may heal from this, but the wounds penetrate centuries and multitudes. Beneath the surface they bleed. Look beneath the surface, for there, perhaps, we may eventually find home. But not yet, not this year, we are not there.

  38. Thank you, Hannah. What you wrote here 2 years ago is powerful and challenging. I am a 66-year-old White woman and have considered myself “progressive“ for most of my life. But I have learned so much just in the last 2-3 years from courageous folks like you about the true nature of racism and my own continuing part in it.

    Recently at a conference, I heard a young Black pastor tell all of us White people in the room, that the time had come to stop asking people of color what we should do. “Figure it out!” she said, in exasperation. “Why is it MY responsibility to figure it out for you!?”

    Thank you again for your courage, your courtesy, and your clarity. ❤️

  39. Thank you for writing this. It is a reminder that I must continually confront my own complacency – and discomfort is a great way to do that. If not for challenging college professors I might not ever have really thought and read about white privilege. If I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem. Go forth and find a way to do the work and support others doing it.

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