On Monday, our nation paid tribute to the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, through his words and actions opened the eyes, hearts and minds of a nation which was often blind and indifferent to a landscape filled with injustice and hate. While we may share King’s dreams today, we recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done.
MLK Day serves to rekindle our dedication to eradicate barriers perpetuated by hatred and prejudice. It is a day to renew within us a sense of courage and strength to fight for what is right in every generation.
In connection to MLK Day, the Union for Reform Judaism posted an article entitled, MLK Day: A Call for Jews to Fight for Racial Justice Today. In it was the following list, which serves to remind us of how much still needs to be addressed in society today.
Right now in the U.S., people of color fall victim to police brutality and violence at an alarming rate. In 2017, Black men made up 40% of the unarmed people who were shot and killed by police, though they only represent 6% of the overall population.
Right now in the U.S., immigrant families are being torn apart. From January 22 through September 29, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 41,318 people on civil immigration charges, almost 40% more than the previous year.
Right now in the U.S., a horrific and growing number of transgender people of color are being killed. At least 87 of the 102 recorded trans people killed in the last five years were transgender people of color.
Right now in the U.S., people of color are dying because of racial disparities in access to healthcare. An estimated 700 to 1,200 women die of childbirth or pregnancy complications every year; Black women are three to four times more likely to die from these issues than white women.
In the past two years, we’ve seen a rampant increase in hate crimes against immigrants, Jews, Muslims, black people, LGBTQ+ people, Latinx people, and people who hold other marginalized identities.
If we hope to continue working on the dream set forth by King, we are going to need to open our eyes and minds to some of these painful realities. This is an enormous task. It demands that we join with likeminded communities throughout the country as we actively work toward dismantling barriers to equality and justice in our day.