MLK Quote Upgrades

Every year on MLK Day, like clockwork, we see a tidal wave of social media posts from people and institutions willing to check the “acknowledge a sanitized version of Dr. King” box without actually understanding and grappling with his radical and (to many, sadly) still uncomfortable policies. In other words, you’ll see black and white images overlayed with this old chestnut:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Obviously this is a fine sentiment, but in 2022, this “safe for all audiences” cherry-picked example has become the “I don’t see color” of quotes. If you’re going to say something, you can (and should) do better.

This year (and I’m looking quite strongly at you, conservative white Christians with “Thin Blue Line” stickers on your SUVs), take the time to share a different quote. Don’t worry, I’ve made it easy by creating some options for you to grab and post:

Up In That Inbox

When not relentlessly hawking my own, I read a lot of email newsletters, both for content inspiration and because I really enjoy the format. If you’re in the market to expand your newsletter game, here are some recommended favorites:

NextDraft: All hail the king

Today in Tabs: Each new issue is like finding your favorite shirt back in rotation

Watching: Great media recommendations, though it’s now NYT subscribers-only

Garbage Day: So weird, so great

Techmeme: A fantastic daily tech news summary

Noticing: I’m a massive Kottke fan, and these roundups are solid

Laura Olin: Fascinating stuff

Evening Briefing: A quick hitlist that’s especially helpful on busy days

The Happy Hour: A great way to head into the weekend

Platformer: On the longer side, but great coverage

One other note: while you can obviously just have newsletters delivered to your main email account, I’m personally a fan of Stoop to help keep things organized.

Hesitant

Disclaimer: This post does not apply to any (currently ineligible) children under 12 or those with legitimate medical conditions who are unable to be vaccinated. They’re some of the people we’re trying to protect the most!

My wife and I have been warning about the dangers of the conservative misinformation ecosystem for a while now, and ever since the COVID vaccines became widely available I’ve been observing the ongoing antics of the anti-vax/anti-mask crowd with grim fascination.

Still, aside from posting snarky memes here and there, I hadn’t dedicated a post to my thoughts on the subject. Well, the past few weeks finally broke me. Specifically, seeing or hearing about:

  • A friend sharing a “vaccine hesitancy” video and information on trying to prevent mandates designed to stop the COVID spread (positioned as an issue of “personal choice”)

  • Stories like these

  • Deranged parents protesting classroom mask requirements (therefore going out of their way to place their own children in greater danger)

  • A local church setting up a separate viewing/listening area for those that are maskless (as if validating that as a reasonable option)

  • People taking horse de-worming medication rather than the vaccines

Enough.

I know that peer pressure can be strong, especially in conservative evangelical circles with extremely isolated media ecosystems that stir up strong “keep the government out” sentiments (except when it comes to reproductive rights, of course 💀).

Here’s the thing though: Beating COVID is going to take a united front. Contagious pandemics don’t care about your ill-informed “personal choice” arguments. People are getting sick and dying, and collective action is the only way out.

As a country, we used to be able to do this. Prior to the rise of always-on, instant misinformation sources, we banded together to defeat Polio and Smallpox. Measles, on the other hand, had a recent re-emergence due to, you guessed it, misinformation.

Even if you’re “hesistant” about getting the vaccine (there’s no reason to be) and slapping a mask on, putting your own reluctance or arguments about “personal freedom” above the lives of others is an inherently immoral act.

Just as free speech ends with your ability to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, the ability of the unvaccinated to participate in society (during a global pandemic!) should be dramatically restricted.

Shut up and wear the stupid mask. Get vaccinated to help do your part as a member of the human race. And please, please, please stop eating horse paste.