This Is The Problem With Using MLK Quotes To Silence #BlackLivesMatter

by Jenna Graham

Martin Luther King's legacy has always been manipulated by education systems and the media to fit a narrative that makes non black people feel comfortable.

We've been spoon fed this idea that no matter how abused we are, no how many of us are killed simply because of our skin, no matter how many times we are denied justice, we must remain calm. We must react with love; it is our duty to keep the peace. And this idea is justified with the claim that, well, it's what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have wanted.

This is an insult to black people. This is an insult to humanity. This is an insult to Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. We have every right to be angry, we have every right to fight for the justice that we deserve. You will not pacify us and burden us with the indication that it is our responsibility to not hurt feelings in the process.

We do not care for your feelings if you do not care for our lives. We will not apologize for making you uncomfortable. We will not rephrase our words or rethink our actions in order to save you from looking in the mirror and realizing that you are apart of the problem.

As human beings, it is a natural reaction to be angry when time and time again our country proves to us that we will forever be deemed inferior. Black people face a demon that nobody else could ever understand. The lucky ones are marginalized, belittled, appropriated and patronized. The unlucky ones are murdered in cold blood, hashtagged and then forgotten about.

By telling us to be loving while we are being hunted, you are reminding us that we do not have the privilege to have feelings. Expressing emotion is a luxury awarded to white people only.

Don't you understand the rules? Don't get upset, you'll scare the others. And if the others fear for their lives due to your emotion, it is your own fault if they take your life. It is your own fault if they deny you justice. You stepped outside of the boundaries that were created just for you.

No matter how much you're pushed around, you need to stay in your place and be silent. Here's a quote from Martin Luther King that will make you feel better. Just read it and be quiet.

For years now, people have name dropped Martin Luther King and used specific quotes to chastise us for being upset. A lot of people who do not support the Black Lives Matter movement push this notion that MLK would not approve, in order to get us back in line.

The truth is, Martin Luther King was just as angry and frustrated at times as we are today.

In Dr. King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," he details his frustration with the city leaders' refusal to negotiate after he reached out to win justice for the unsolved bombings of black homes and churches. With nowhere else to turn, the demonstrations and protests began. This, of course, triggered criticism from those in power.

King, Jr. wrote in his letter,

“I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with the effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power stricter left the Negro community with no alternative.”

Martin Luther King explained that he was sick of being told to wait for justice, and stated that freedom must be demanded by the oppressed. He faced the many of the same criticisms that Black Lives Matter activists face today.

Last year, Time published an article referencing Dr. King's thoughts on riots, which are completely parallel to the criticisms of the riots in Baltimore in 2015. They referenced a statement King made during his "The Other America" speech, when he said,

"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard."

Martin Luther King, Jr. pressed the issue that it is not the responsibility of the oppressed to stop rioting when those in power refuse to grant justice and equality.

No, he did not like that people were rioting, but he understood these people and, better yet, he defended them. During that speech, King went on to say that America has failed to be concerned about justice, equality and humanity. He continues,

"And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention."

He believed that America's negligence was the cause of the riots, and it was the responsibility of those who are in power to grant social justice and progress in order to have peace. Martin Luther King certainly did not blame the oppressed, instead he held those that denied justice accountable.

For anyone using his words to shame us into reacting in ways that don't hold our oppressors accountable: You are part of the problem. Do your research before you try turn one of our greatest activists into a tool to silence us. It will not work.

If you do not want us to be upset, if you do not want us to shut down streets in protest, if you do not want us to scream from the top of our lungs that black lives matter, then the solution is very simple.

Stop killing us and incarcerate the people who have our blood on their hands.