Republican politicians who quote Martin Luther King Jr. to defend a colorblind approach to race are misrepresenting or even dishonoring him, activists told Axios.
Conservatives have frequently invoked King and his “I Have a Dream” speech while critiquing liberal programs that emphasize the importance of race, such as affirmative action or Critical Race Theory (CRT). But King had made statements about systemic racism and poverty, and by emphasizing his dream of a colorblind society without mentioning these other critiques, Republicans are insulting his legacy, the activists told Axios.
The Axios article cited scholars who suggested that King held ideas that were a “precursor” to CRT.
King “said to us that we must address fully systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, and militarism,” Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign told Axios. “It’s dishonoring of the memory of King not to raise that full critique, no matter how unnerving, unsettling or uncomfortable it is.” (RELATED: Over Half Of America’s Top Medical Schools Now Teach Critical Race Theory)
Democrats and left-wing activists in recent years have moved away from a colorblind approach to race, explicitly endorsing race-based affirmative action programs and Critical Race Theory — the concept that America is inherently racist and that interactions ought to be viewed through the lens of race.
As we celebrate and reflect on the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us all recommit to building a better, fairer, more equitable world. pic.twitter.com/HdTjFsaFCM
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) January 16, 2023
Some scholars and activists argued that racism is still a dominant, driving force in the U.S., and that colorblindness can’t solve that problem.
“What’s really interesting about colorblindness is that it sounds perfect. In theory. But in reality, colorblindness is a way to obfuscate systemic inequality,” Hajar Yazdiha, a University of Southern California sociologist who is writing a book about King, told Axios.
“We fundamentally don’t want to admit that every system in this country was built on racial oppression,” Taifa Smith Butler, president of the racial justice think tank Demos, told the outlet, adding that this approach put King “in a box.”
Barber, Yazdiha and Smith did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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