January 9, 2021
The following statement was issued by MLK Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Grant after the troubling events over the past week, including the violent right-wing mob’s attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“The MLK Labor Council unequivocally denounces the horrifying events of this past week, including the attempted white-supremacist insurrection by a pro-Trump mob and actions by several members of Congress to overturn the votes of millions.
These vile events are just the latest in a series over the past four years that have made news about the ways racism persists in the United States of America.
After a summer of anti-racist activists being repeatedly abused by law enforcement, a mostly-white mob was allowed to take over the U.S. Capitol with little resistance from the police. If these protestors weren’t protected by white privilege, they would have never been allowed to get close to the Capitol.
The hatred seen at Trump rallies, and on the US/Mexico border where families are separated and kids caged, and in the murders of unarmed black men and women, is disgusting to good hearted people. Many are asking themselves how a democracy can be so cruel and violent. We have been taught to love and revere our country and institutions. In reality, US history is racist and violent to the core. The problems we are experiencing now are the result of longstanding white supremacy in our culture and economy that we haven’t dealt with. We can have Democracy or racism but over the long term, we can’t have both.
There is no easy way to prevent things like Trump’s attempted coup. The depth of the problem is foundational. The amount of work necessary to overcome it is enormous. And the debt our nation owes to Black and Indigenous people is enormous. But if we don’t face our demons and embark on a monumental effort to acknowledge and account for racism in this country these problems can get much worse.
When organized labor works to educate its members on the legacy of European colonialism in the Americas and the United States’s history of genocide and stolen Native American land, on the enslavement of Africans and African Americans who built the wealth of this country from its inception, and the internment of Japanese Americans and the nuclear atrocities inflicted on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that’s when we’re building a world we can be proud of.
We ally with the Black Lives Matter movement because that is the antidote to the violence and horror that hurts workers and divides us.
With Democrats in the White House including the historic victory of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman elected to this level of power, there is a powerful sense of optimism and will to undo the damage caused by President Trump. It is just the tip of the iceberg in the ongoing fight against institutional racism. As a labor movement, we owe it to ourselves to dedicate an entire generation, decades, of focused effort to meaningfully change our country by putting this work at the center of everything we do.”