MLK Day Faces Racial Challenges

In 2016, a woman, a Jew, and two Latinos are some of the most likely candidates to succeed America’s first black president, yet the nation is on the cusp of another civil rights movement as it struggles with the same problems King’s generation dealt with in the 1950’s and 60’s. With tensions running especially high this holiday weekend, commemorations honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived amid serious progress and regress.

Fifty-two years since the Civil Right Act, and 48 years since Martin Luther King’s assassination, the issue of race seems to be cropping up with increasing frequency and in a variety of contexts. Our communities and schools still are separated by race, even if that divide is now dictated not by law but by economics. The role of race is also raised in connection to climate change, college admissions, health, prison growth, deportation and rancor between the president and Congress.

The Brown and Black Presidential Forum held in Iowa last week sought to discuss the issues surrounding race and privilege. Thalia Anguiano, a 21-year-old Latina from Chicago, was among one of the questioners who asked Hillary Clinton to discuss what white privilege means to her and to offer “an example from [her] life or career when you think [she had] benefited from it.” The young woman also mentioned “colorism” within minority communities like hers and the inherent divide it created when it came to finding jobs or simply moving forward.

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