Seeking justice through discomfort: How to celebrate your MLK weekend

Paradise Valley has been recognized for years throughout the Valley for its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, one that commemorates the bravery and nobility of Dr. King’s work and of the pursuit of racial equality as a whole.

Ariana Mottahed

As we take the time to remember the Civil Rights Movement, we should not simply find the glorified victory at the end of the struggle by looking past the suffering that happened in order to get there; this romanticization of the fight for racial equality, which is still a large problem in our society today, does not do Dr. King or his modern-day followers justice.

We should rather recognize that it takes the united effort, the advocacy for peace, and the search for justice that it took in the ‘60s in order to be in a position where we can educate each other and, more importantly, ourselves.

This is how we can truly honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his valiant endeavor of raising awareness of racial injustice in America.

By seeking exposure to suffering, listening to its victims, and defending those without a voice, we fulfill the cause that Martin Luther King died for. It is difficult for most, however, to understand how we can appropriately participate in public discourses surrounding color.

In fact, many become so uncomfortable that they would rather completely ignore the issue as a whole by stating that they do not see color and that it does not matter.

Ignoring the fact that others come from a different background, carry a different culture, or have a different skin color than oneself makes those who share these differences more invisible and vulnerable than they already are, allowing for their oppression to continue.

Imagine how uncomfortable it truly must have been, then, to be confronting this matter 50 years ago, when challenging the accepted culture of bias was seen as taboo. As Dr. King so eloquently put it, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

This Martin Luther King Day, I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone, to acknowledge the struggle faced by millions of our fellow citizens, and to contribute to the advancement of our society through simple acts.

Challenging assumptions, bringing others into the discussion, and diversifying your environment are necessary if we are to move, even in the smallest degree, as a nation.

Every year for over 20 years, the Baha’i community of Paradise Valley has hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the Town Hall. This year, the celebration will be at Town Hall, in the council chamber, on Monday, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m.

The Baha’i Faith is a world religion that believes in the unity of mankind. To honor Dr. King in a truly Baha’i and American sense, one that focuses on achieving unity and justice for all, most certainly including those of marginalized communities, we must remember that it is our responsibility to learn about the true nature of racial inequity in America and about our role in the construction of a greater peace, however uncomfortable it may make us.

This is how to celebrate your MLK weekend.

Editor’s Note: Ariana Mottahed is a senior at Chaparral High School. She has been involved with community-building organizations such as the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program in Paradise Valley and around Arizona for years. She is also a part of student-run organizations like the Scottsdale Mayor’s Youth Council and Student Supported Brain Tumor Research.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment