A Reminder for this National Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was designated, by former President Barack Obama, as the only federal holiday that also serves as a national day of service. To honor the life, memory, and legacy of Dr. King, all Americans are asked to perform an act of service in their communities. As we move through this day, the first after four years of the Trump presidency, we as white (largely Christian) Americans, need to spend some time thinking about the service we truly need to perform.

Our country continues to be divided. This past weekend was marred by the taking of Jewish hostages, in their synagogue, as they gathered for Saturday services. Our elected leaders in Congress refuse to pass voting rights legislation, thus ensuring the degradation of our elections. Our country continues to struggle with concept of true racial equality, with more and more states attempting to pass legislation that bars the teaching of the true history of the United States.

Given the state our society continues to find itself in, the most impactful act of service white Americans can perform, is anti-racism. We must stand up to other white Americans when we see racism playing out in real time. We must speak out about the need for equality in public, and in private too. Our greatest service is to honor the legacy of Dr. King through our words and our actions. We have to be active in our anti-racism, be mindful of our own inherent privilege and how it impacts our lives and the lives of those around us, work to change the system that favors us over non-white people, and listen when Black Americans are talking about the ways, both big and small, that racism impacts their everyday lives. We must be willing to admit, and work on, our own faults, biases, and weaknesses in the name of systemic change.

We must stand up to those whose fear and anger drives them to hate and harm those different from them.

Our act of service must be to stand up to and speak directly to other white Americans, saying:

“I will not abide your hatred.”

The Perpetual Unpleasantness, The Bitter Southerner