Kirsten G. is currently in her sophomore year as a Social Work major. She is an activist currently focusing on anti-racism and feminism, as well as many others.
KR: What are your thoughts on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday?
KG: I think it’s good that we’re recognizing his life work and contributions.
KR: Do you think it’s important that we still celebrate the holiday?
KG: Yeah, for sure, because I think MLK’s message is always going to be relevant.
KR: What makes it relevant today?
KG: Just because we passed the Civil Rights Act doesn’t mean that racism ended. Just because it’s illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And so, I think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message will always be relevant. Which is sad to say, but I think things can get better, but I don’t know if there will ever truly be a time where we can say racism is in the past.
KR: Is there anything else you would want to say?
KG: I feel like we whitewash MLK a lot and will only talk about stuff that doesn’t challenge white supremacy or whiteness. We’ll be like isn’t that so nice how Martin Luther King wanted us all to get along and hold hands and sing kumbaya and he was a pacifist and he was for peace. But that doesn’t change the fact that he was very critical of America and of nationalism. I think that’s why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and not Malcom X. Because we’re like Malcom X was violent and so we won’t talk about his message as much. I can learn about it in school and not feel challenged. I can still use the definition of racism that’s “it’s just being mean to people”. I can be taught about MLK in elementary school and only learn that I should be nice. Which is really shallow and not a good comprehensive understanding of his message.
KR: So what should the MLK holiday be celebrating?
KG: I think celebrating is an interesting word, because if we’re talking about black people then yes we should be celebrating then I think there is a celebration of blackness. But if we’re talking about injustice then should we be celebrating on MLK day or should we be more remembering? Is this a day that is used to reignite our fire for activism? And I would rather look it at more that way. Because MLK is one person but he represents a much bigger movement.