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Gaskin: Let’s Reflect on Our Commitments on MLK Day

Monday, January 19, 2015

 

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and in light of the recent local, national, and global events, it is necessary for us all to reflect on our commitments to live a life in the reflection of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. We all have a filter through which we view ourselves and others around us, whether it is relates to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or other factors that shape our individuality.  The New Year is a time for reflection and renewal, in this spirit join me in looking inside our hearts for the unconscious beliefs that may affect your interactions.  It isn’t easy to talk about where these beliefs come from, what they mean, and what we can do about them. However, it is a journey that we must take.

On Friday, protestors blocked I-93 in an effort to bring attention to the “black lives matter” movement. This protest sparked outrage across the state and actually caused the firing of a Boston City employee. Peaceful dissent is a right that we are afforded as citizens of the United States. Protests should have a place and a purpose.  While everyone may not agree with the actions taken by a group of protestors on Friday, it is necessary that we pay attention and take on the dialogue of institutionalized racism against black and brown citizens of this country. 

Yes, ALL live matter, but not all lives have to continuously prove their worth. The justice system consistently imprisons Black males over White males for the same offenses. Black males are continuously the target of racial profiling and police brutality. If you believe that every Black male that has been brutalized by an officer of the law has been disobeying the law, then you are in complete denial of the underlying problem of racism. Just because you have not been stopped and frisked; just because you haven’t been harassed by police officers; just because you haven’t been followed around a store; that doesn’t mean you have the right to deny the experience of someone else. To deny that, you are saying Black people from Worcester to Washington DC, Ferguson to Florida, New York to Los Angeles are all imagining a prejudice. 

Neither you, nor I, can invalidate the experience of another person just because it is not our experience, with that I say 'Black lives matter.'

Jennifer Gaskin is the President of the Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association and owner and Principal consultant at Julien and Davis Consulting.

 

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