Op-ed: Conservatives, please stop ‘whitesplaining’ MLK to us
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

All I want for Christmas is for Karen and Brad to stop “whitesplaining” the words and motives of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Blackfolk.

With January (MLK Day) fast approaching, and Black History Month not far behind, we will soon find ourselves in one of the most festive, and seemingly holy seasons for Republicans—their season for “whitesplaining” the words, mission and ministry of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They do it all year, but most fervently on and/or leading up to King’s national holiday. Do they have some deeper insight into MLK’s words that we don’t know about? C’mon son. You already know that’s not what’s up. They’re all about twisting King’s words to promote their agenda of voter suppression, deny healthcare for all, block tax dollars from helping the middle class and economically struggling, demonize the teaching of Black history and Black perspectives on current reality and derail attempts at criminal justice reform.

But hey, why am I trying to “Blacksplain” their nonsense when their own words can show you better than I can tell you? Check it out.

“I’m asking my colleagues to remember the words of the legendary, the great leader in this country, Dr. Martin Luther King, who once said the time is always right to do what is right. We need to recognize, number one, that our words have consequences. That there is violence on both sides of the aisle. We’ve contributed to it. We need to take responsibility for our words and our actions.” (Nancy Mace, Congresswoman, SC objecting to Trump’s potential second impeachment and inquiry into the Jan. 6 insurrection)

“You think about what MLK stood for. He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character. You listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that… [CRT] puts race as the most important thing. I want content of character to be the most important thing.” (Ron DeSantis, Governor, Florida while proposing his anti-Critical Race Theory “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act,” or “Stop WOKE Act”)

“Critical Race Theory goes against everything Martin Luther King has ever told us. ‘Don’t judge us by the color of our skin,” but now they’re (the Left) embracing it. They’re going backward.” (Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader)

“He was against all policies based on race. The basis of his attack on segregation was ‘judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.’ That’s a profound moral argument.” (Peter Schramm, conservative historian)

“One of my favorite quotes from King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union.” (Mike Pence, former Vice President defending his administration’s xenophobic border wall)

“Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a giant of the Civil Rights Movement who called on our Nation to live up to the highest ideals of our founding. We pay tribute to the incredible life & accomplishments of Dr. King & his memory will inspire us for generations to come.” (Mike Pence, former Vice President, MLK Day tweet)

“Across the country, we’ve seen examples of police protecting protesters, and protesters embracing police, and it’s been beautiful to watch. And I just want to leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that, ‘We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.’” (Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary during Trump administration denouncing Summer of George Floyd protesters)

“I have a dream… will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Ben Bradley, conservative British member of parliament decrying U.S. affirmative action policies)

“I witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington’s speech as an intern back in 1963. I dreamed about doing big things to help my state and our country.” (Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader, U.S. Senate)

“Think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of healthcare.” (Jeffrey Lord, former Reagan White House Political Director)

“Martin Luther King, Jr. this MLK Day, ‘I’ve been to the mountain top. And I’ve seen the promised land. …we, as a people, will get to the promised land.’” (Tweet by Steve King, former U.S. Representative and longstanding avowed white nationalist)

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today. May we always remember his message of freedom and equality for all. #MLKDay with a picture of King at the March on Washington with the quote “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” (Tweet by Scott Walker, former Wisconsin Governor who produced “one of the harshest voter ID laws in the nation, restricting early voting hours, changing the laws regarding absentee ballots, changes to polling place regulations that inject partisanship into the polling place, and unprecedented partisan redistricting.”)

“Today we honor and remember the strongest voice for social justice, Dr. Martin Luther King. #MLKDAY” (Tweet by Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator, SC who described the Trump impeachment as “a lynching in every sense” and “un-American,” and compared the FBI’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to the FBI’s 1960s persecution of Civil Rights leaders…like MLK)

MLK understood the importance & dignity of work, something our policy “experts” have forgotten. He famously said: “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.” (Tweet from Josh Hawley, U.S. Senator, Missouri, who gave the “Black power” fist of solidarity to Jan. 6 insurrectionists and called them “my people”)

“On #MLKDay, we honor a hero who defended the moral basis of our founding principles.” (Tom Cotton, U.S. Senator, Arkansas, who described slavery as a “necessary evil”)

Additionally, California Republicans in 1996 used quotes from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to rally voters behind a ballot initiative to end most affirmative action programs in California. In 2021, these same California Republicans again used images and quotes from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech to promote Proposition 209, a ballot initiative to end most affirmative action programs their state.

(Sources: independent.co.uk, thedailybeast.com, themarysue.com, huffpost.com, Rick Strom/TYT Sports)

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...