I Can Never Live in Their Skin: Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech”

As white people, I believe that our temptation on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is to assume that he and his peaceful protestors defeated racism. After all, why else would he be honored with a national holiday if he hadn’t won the war? Haven’t people of color received the right to vote, been given equal economic advantage, and been accepted as integral members of American society? Don’t black Americans star in their own TV shows now?

I believe that in the midst of our current climate of upheaval, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech is worth another look.

I’m also willing to bet that reading the excerpts below will make you uncomfortable, as it did for me. (Particularly if you’re a white American.)

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I Care What Jesus Looks Like

For most of my life, I assumed Jesus was an effeminate white guy. Of course, that had something to do with the fact that every depiction I saw confirmed that: shoulder-length brown hair, blue eyes, creamy skin, clean-shaven face, slim figure. Basically, Jesus looked a lot like me.

My Skin Feels Neon: I Voted for My Black Neighbors

Each morning, I drop my four-year-old at preschool at our local neighborhood school. We happen to live in a diverse neighborhood in Denver, the statistics breaking down to almost thirds – black, white, Hispanic. When our moving truck pulled up last August, one neighbor – the president of the Major Taylor Cycling Club, the first African American to win a major cycling competition – brought over cycling jerseys for the whole family. Others stopped by to say hello.

The Cops and Me

In light of Alton Sterling’s shooting, I compiled a list of interactions I’ve had with the cops, as a white, middle class, millennial woman….