Say It Louder MLK was right. Racism and opposition to democracy are linked.
In his famous address at the 1963 March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. drew a direct line between the struggle for racial equality and the nation’s efforts to realize democracy. “When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” King declared. However, King emphasized, the nation had betrayed that promise to Black people: “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” King warned that this failure meant the nation’s promise that “all men are created equal” remained a “dream” that was yet to be realized.
Nearly 60 years later, the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted continuing racial disparities in policing, education, employment, health care and voting rights, again underscoring the yawning gap between the nation’s democratic ideals and its lived reality. Even so, our research shows that Americans remain divided over whether racial inequality is a problem. Although a majority of Americans recognize that White people enjoy racial advantages and are angry about racism in U.S. society, a substantial fraction disagrees.
These disagreements animate the very real, and very perilous, struggle over the survival of U.S. democracy today. People who deny White racial advantages and the prevalence of racial inequities also doubt the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, express more positive attitudes toward the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and absolve former president Donald Trump of blame for the riot.
These patterns suggest that the desire to maintain White advantages — the impulse that King identified as largely responsible for the nation’s democratic failures — continues to threaten the well-being of U.S. democracy.
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More of This Don’t celebrate his legacy without passing voting rights legislation
Martin Luther King Jr.'s family has a message for Democratic lawmakers who refuse to stop their Republican counterparts' voter suppression efforts yet intend to shower pious praise on the slain civil rights leader's legacy this holiday weekend: Save it.
King's son and the members of more than 80 grassroots organizations recently stressed that there ought to be "no celebration without legislation."
Their statement arrives at a time when racial justice activists are intensifying their calls for President Joe Biden to demand that Senate Democrats alter the chamber's rules and pass voting rights legislation -- before the GOP makes it impossible to have fair elections.
"President Biden and Congress used their political muscle to deliver a vital infrastructure deal," Martin Luther King III said. "And now we are calling on them to do the same to restore the very voting rights protections my father and countless other civil rights leaders bled to secure.”
More than six decades ago, his father spoke about the fundamental importance of the right to vote.
"So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself," King Jr. said in his "Give Us the Ballot" speech in May 1957. "I cannot make up my mind -- it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact -- I can only submit to the edict of others."
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Less of This The Supreme Court Justice who refuses to wear a mask
Kara Alaimo is an associate professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University and writes about women and social media.
On Friday, we witnessed an unusually ugly spectacle at the US Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch sat on the bench maskless (as he also has on other occasions), while his colleague Sonia Sotomayor -- who as a diabetic is at higher risk of severe disease if she contracts Covid-19 -- participated remotely from her chambers. While a Court spokesperson didn't respond to a question from The Washington Post about the incident, a statement made by the pair of justices on Wednesday noted that they are on friendly terms and that Sotomayor had not asked Gorsuch to mask up. Nonetheless, it's disappointing that Gorsuch did not decide to don a mask as a sign of respect to his colleague so that she might have felt comfortable participating in person. The episode was a shocking display of male entitlement.
And after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was inaugurated on Saturday, one of his first actions was to repeal school mask mandates, a decision that was met with outrage by many and pledges by some school districts not to obey the order. But, if it stands, the decision will help ensure that a generation of children in Virginia have the opportunity to follow Gorsuch's lead in displaying gross disregard for the welfare of others. The alarming decision stands to be particularly devastating for women, because mothers have been the ones largely dealing with the fallout when their kids get sick or they don't feel it's safe to send them to school.
Gorsuch's choice not to mask up was an act of the same variety as men who "manspread" on the subway by sitting with their legs apart so there isn't legroom for the person next to them or use "bro language" like referring to their sexual exploits in the workplace. This kind of behavior often makes women feel uncomfortable and even unwelcome in public settings, including their places of work. In the case of Gorsuch's disregard for Sotomayor, it was particularly inappropriate because not wearing a mask posed a potential threat to her health.
These rules and practices all make sense for the court (where five justices, including Sotomayor, are over 65) and for the public. Indeed, they offer a model for responsible workplace behavior in an age of omicron.
Which brings me to the question: Where was Gorsuch’s mask?
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