White people who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. please stop saying that as if it's proof that you don't have a racist bone in your body. In fact, every single one of your bones has benefited from white privilege. So stop saying that phrase about bones too. It makes no sense.
Reminding everyone that you marched with Martin Luther King Jr. is like me bragging about being the captain of my soccer team in high school:
- That was a long time ago. Just as my soccer skills have deteriorated, it indicates nothing about your current understanding or work on racial politics in this country. Don't be this guy.
- If you have to go back several decades to come up with some evidence of your anti-racism work, then you probably haven't been doing jack shit since then. So stop wasting your breath rattling off part of your resume equivalent to volunteer work in high school and use it to do anti-racist work instead.
- If you feel triggered to remind the person you're talking with that you marched with MLK Jr. something is probably happening that deserves some self-reflection on your part. Save the energy you're spending trying to defend yourself and ask a question that starts with, "Can you help me understand..."
- If none of the arguments above sway you, maybe a pragmatic one will. I guarantee that if you use this in a conversation it will not win you any of the cred that you think it's going to, just eye rolling.
Striving for anti-racism is a "show, not tell" sort of thing. If you feel so compelled by MLK Jr. that you absolutely must talk about going to his marches, the best way to do this would be to call up all the other white people that went to the march with you and tell them to shut the fuck up about it. Feel free to liberally share this article with your friends.
Please, white people, please. I'm saying the magic word.