Justice and Equality, in honor of Dr. King

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2011

I recently received an information packet from the Southern Poverty Law Center based out of Montgomery, Alabama. They expose hate groups and fight inequality nationwide. In honor of the holiday I popped the packet open and had a look.

"The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a record number of active hate groups in its latest annual count. There were 932 hate groups operating in the United States in 2009… Hate group membership was driven by the election of an African-American president, the economic meltdown, and anger over non-white immigration."

I’ve read over and over again in recent years about the sickening violence against gays, Muslims, Blacks, and Latinos. Here in New Mexico there are regular crimes against Native Americans, along with casual racism towards that group, as well as towards the state’s sizable Hispanic population.

This is a quick plug for the SPLC, whose work I admire, as well as a promise. First, go to their web site. There are some great resources there, news, and a US map of hate-based activity. Then, see if you can’t send them some cash.

Unlike other groups - Amnesty, ACLU come to mind - it seems to me that SPLC will actually do something with your money other than invest in materials and postage to send you letters requesting more money, and they’ll help you get involved in a real way.

Segue into my “promise”: I’m getting involved. I don’t know if the SPLC is exactly a group you join, so I’m just going to do the work on my own, contact them for counsel, etc.

First, they sent me a pamphlet that makes me ashamed: “Responding to Everyday Bigotry: SPEAK UP!” I rarely speak up. I intend to do so henceforth.

Second, I’m going to look to inequality here in New Mexico, as well as next door in Arizona. (I’ve already mentioned some problems here, and I think we all know what’s wrong in AZ.)

I remain convinced that economic inequality forms the basis of most any social ill, although they can’t be fought one at a time. Dr. King said,

“We must create full employment or we must create incomes… And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God’s children on their own two feet right here on earth.”

To the striking sanitation workers in Memphis, where his life was ended, he said,

"With Selma and the voting rights bill one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and cup of coffee?"