Why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is different in 2018

Racial equality in the face of the Trump administration

Image supplied by: Photo illustration by Josh Granovsky
From left to right; Screencap from CNN's news coverage

Every year, the United States takes a moment to recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s influence and achievements on what is known as MLK day.

But after a year that presented so much racial tension and turmoil, does the day still stand for what it used to?

When I was growing up, celebrating MLK day meant setting aside a day to recognize the progress we’ve made on equality since MLK fought for it.

The US has had a very complicated past with racial inequalities. Starting with issues of slavery and perpetuated through George H.W. Bush’s “war on drugs,” African Americans have continued to be oppressed in US culture.

In 2008, we were able to celebrate the first African American President, giving hope we may be finally moving away from such a complicated and problematic history of racial inequality.

But this year, things are different. 

Without a doubt, we can say that there’s a lack of progress being made in terms of racial equality. In fact, there’s a very visible regression. 

In the last year, there was a white supremacist march in Charlottesville that left one person dead, police brutality against African American men has risen in the past couple years and most recently, President Trump referred to African American majority countries as “shitholes.”

All of these events haven’t gone unnoticed and protests against this sort of racism have been prominent as well. This includes “taking a knee” during NFL games, Charlottesville protests and protests at lots of international airports like JFK following Trump’s “muslim ban.”

This doesn’t take away from the fact that this sort of racism is still occurring on a regular basis.

All this is evident regression from strides being taken towards racial equality.

Additionally, MLK Day this year fell during a time when Republican lawmakers are deciding whether or not to allow DREAMers to be guaranteed citizenship.

All of these events make this past week’s MLK Day much more significant than that of past years. It’s now time to focus on what we can do to continue progression for racial inequality. 

From all the people who have spoken out against racism, it’s evident that many people want a change in the treatment of African American people in North America. With lawmakers in power who aren’t as interested in creating those sorts of changes, it’s hard to foresee change in the future.

All we can do is continue to have our voices heard and stand in solidarity, speaking up for what we believe is right. We can move forward and make 2018 the year that we have a direct focus 

on equality.


American politics

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