Dear fellow Pepperdine students:
While I am not confined in a jail, like the one Martin Luther King Jr. sat in 51 years ago, the sentiments that were expressed in his famed “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” still ring true today. It is because of this that I know that we, as a society, are still confined behind the perpetual bars of racism that King fought against.
Even here at Pepperdine, where the administration strives toward maintaining a Christian-based emphasis on peace, do we still fail to rectify the ominous cloud of inferiority that is cast upon those deemed “less” for nothing more than the color of their skin, their status, or whatever other subjective factor is deemed.
Across the nation, pockets and areas riddled with similar injustice exist and persevere despite years of Civil Rights legislation.
As a woman of color, I recognize the progress we’ve made. Schools are indeed integrated; discriminatory practices such as the designated areas are things of the past, and King’s dream to see his children live to see a world radically different from the divided culture of his time has become a reality for countless other children.
So why do I raise claims of injustice and racial oppression? It isn’t simply to raise havoc or make painful references to the history of our nation’s crimes. Remember, King and all the brave people whose struggle led to my own liberation, were similarly accused of being ‘muck rackers.’
Lynchings and moral debasing were the sins back then. Today, injustice comes in hidden waves of bias, discrimination and ignorance.
The blind eye to the deteriorating status of inner cities, the crude prejudices that justify hiring the white body over the brown body are practices still alive especially among marginalized groups.
I feel a deep pain in recognizing the nature of my perpetual prison. We must hold firm with the words that MLK once spoke, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
While I am fortunate to be where I am, and you, fellow Waves, may also be in places of fortune, the fact remains; so long as there is injustice, justice is yet to be attained. If we really are to honor the man whose legacy was celebrated just this past Monday, then we should all follow his doctrine. While in Birmingham, MLK made it clear that he believed our lives were connected and tied together in the very fact that we are all humans. He inspired us to reject the narrow mindset that ignores the struggles of the oppressed. He testified that he could not simply idly pass the time in Atlanta while men and women of color suffered elsewhere. Do not sit idly in Pepperdine while there is suffering elsewhere — honor justice by fighting for it.
I leave you with these words from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail;” “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
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