On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many celebrities shared quotes from and tributes to the Civil Rights leader on social media, but How to Get Away With Murder star Matt McGorry took a different approach: sending a message to white people.
In a video posted on Twitter, the actor recalled a previous MLK Day when he shared the King quote, “Darkness cannot drive out our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He says a woman of color responded by asking why white people always use that quote, and McGorry said he initially felt defensive.
“The thing that I didn’t realize was white people often only post quotes like this that are apolitical, and then we refuse to engage in a critical way with white supremacy,” The Orange Is the New Black alum wrote. “Because when I can post about love driving out the love and saying, ‘Oh, I do feel love, I have a lot of love,’ and, ‘I hate racism, I hate the Ku Klux Klan,’ then it actually lets me off the hook from thinking deeper and more critically about the ways that I can work to end white supremacy in my own life, in myself, between my friends and my family… There’s white supremacy everywhere, and it’s well worth investigating and dismantling everywhere.”
He then proceeded to share a different King quote that he believes “most white people haven’t critically engaged with”: “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
“What I’m really asking for us to do today is to think about his actual legacy, not as a sort of depoliticized Easter Bunny figure who just talked about black and white kids holding hands, and that was it, but the radical, revolutionary freedom fighter who made people uncomfortable… and to really engage with that and think about what that looks like for today,” McGorry continued. “Because for me, if I want to honor his legacy as I have worked to do in the last few years, I really need to be constantly educating myself, to educate myself on what I can do to be a better ally, to amplify the voice of people of color, to investigate how white supremacy shows up in my own life, among my friends and my family, and to really actually be active, to get out in the streets in a way, that if you read Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham jail, you will see very clearly outlined that this was not a guy who was afraid of tension, and in fact, he said that we needed tension.”
He concluded, “So I’m engaging with all these white folks out here, all of you at home, to think about what it really means to engage in that discomfort and that tension of going to the next level of really facing white supremacy.”
Watch McGorry’s full message below.
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