Editor’s note: Alexis Dorrell was a winner of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. essay and speech contest.
My name us Alexis Dorrell and this is my Martin Luther King speech. Many in society ask the question, “Where do we go from here?” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In order to answer the question . . . we must first honestly recognize where we are now.” Right now we are in an environment of police brutality among blacks, white privilege, and discrimination of black beauty.
Police brutality among the black race has been on a crazy upward spiral in the past couple years. Famous NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick actually began taking a knee to kneel against the outrageous police brutality cases. Ironically since the protest, there have been over 200 black Americans killed through police brutality. That number does not include the many who have been wrongly injured. Many hear the phrase “police shoot and kill African-American male” and react to it as “well, he should have complied.”
Well, my question is how do you comply to three police men having guns pointed at you and telling you to show your ID when you’re just walking home at night? How do you comply when you get pulled over and they tell you to grab your ID which is in your pocket and they shoot you when you go to grab it?
How do you comply when you’re looking down at your daughter’s body being pressed to the ground by a police officer three times her size? Besides being wrongfully shot or injured there is also a major harassment issue among blacks from the police. Ask yourself this question right now: Have you ever just walked past a cop or a group of cops and gotten nervous? You don’t have anything illegal on you, you haven’t done anything illegal, yet you are freakishly nervous just to walk past them. Many don’t understand that concept, but feel they have the right to tell us we are “overreacting.”
As a mixed child who grew up in a white household my “white privilege” was only granted to me when I talked out loud. You might ask, what is a white privilege? Well, for example Brock Allan Turner was found guilty for sexually assaulting a drunken and unconscious woman but after hearing emotional pleas, was granted only six months of jail time.
Also, white male Harvey Weinstein, who was caught on tape confessing to a sexual assault, is a free man. On the other hand, well-known black male artist Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years for violating probation by “popping a wheelie” on a motorcycle. Charles Chatman, also a black man, was sentenced to 99 years of jail time for a rape charge that 27 years later was proven to be a lie.
White privilege means no one questions why you got that really great job. It’s assumed that you were just highly qualified. White privilege means you don’t have to worry about being monitored in a store just because the hue of your skin is a bit darker than most. Having white privilege means people will never label you a terrorist. If you benefit from white privilege, you’ll never be told to “get over slavery.” Being white isn’t a wrong, but white isn’t a culture, so why is white pride now being protested among the states?
Being black isn’t a culture, either, but being of African descent is. Compared to the white lives matter counteracts, the black lives matter protests aren’t for culture. They are fighting for equal treatment. Being black to most people in America means you are a criminal. Being black means you can’t achieve at the white man’s standards. I can’t speak for all but I speak for myself when I say being white has its privileges.
Black beauty is finally making its way up in society but at the same time is being jeopardized by the ignorant. The brown skin tone is caused by the specific melanin pigment called Eumelanin. The more Eumelanin you have, the darker your skin is. Many African-American women struggle to embrace this beauty. On the other hand, many have taken the courage to embrace their beauty and have been mocked for it. I’m sure some have heard the term “black face.” This is where a white person paints their face black or uses brown makeup to portray themselves as a black person. On social media this “black face” trend seemed to be socially acceptable but if a black person were to splash baby powder on them it would be racist.
Where we are now is not where we should be. But how do we change a society that is mainly ruled by people who don’t see the problem? I say we keep kneeling. I say that we don’t comply with the social injustices that we are supposed to go by. There really isn’t anything we can do about white privilege but I saw we fight for the black privilege. Why can’t the black man have a one up in society? I say we change that.
We have many successful predominantly black colleges that have produced classes of black lawyers, nurses, brain surgeons, accountants, business owners, and pro ball players. So one day that recognition will be granted but for now all we can do is to keep pushing for success. And to all the beautiful women who feel the need to hate themselves due to the new “socially acceptable” look, I say you keep doing what you’re doing. Use that nice smelling coconut oil, use that Carmex Chap Stick that makes your lips look all extra nice and soft, stop using those relaxers because your hair is already beautiful and DON’T be cautious of what colors you wear because, you know what, you look good in EVERY color! But most of all I say that we all need to stay awake. Thank you.