On January 28th, 2018, the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration was held in the Carrier Dome with over 1,600 people in attendance. This year’s celebration included student performances from groups like Black Reign, Black Legacy, BCCE, and more. To top off the elegant night, founder of IMPACT Strategies and CNN commentator Angela Rye gave the keynote speech. In her speech, she urged the crowd to make a change and work progressively towards activism. Her emphasis was on the difference between intention and impact. She spoke about the need for racial equity rather than equality, and how we must work together as a society for this to become attainable.
“Power, the ability to achieve purpose. We want all of us to be able to live on purpose. If we lived on purpose, understanding that we’re truly interdependent, we could move this nation and this world forward,” Rye said. She went on to explain how since our ancestors stepped foot on “America the Great”, power has been manipulated as a tool to oppress Black and Brown people. She even goes as far as to say that today in our society, we are conditioned to be afraid of seeking power.
What was most compelling about Rye’s speech was her passion but also subtle shade. In denouncing some of Trump’s most recent actions, she made sure she didn’t leave any lingering thoughts behind. She briefly touched on President Trump’s “sh*thole” comments and how hurtful his words are, ending with the thought that “the real sh*thole is his mouth”. The crowd hesitated to applaud, some even gasping when hearing the cuss word, and then soon after roared with cheers.
This is something that can resonate with us all moving forward. We can all feel anger, but truthfully, behind the anger there’s a whole lot of hurt when unpacking the idea that the leader of the free world can have these negative thoughts on a whole population of people. I think that Trump’s comments can be used as a learning lesson for us all. Trump’s comments expose a larger problem of the racism in this country and the way people talk about their discriminatory thoughts behind closed doors. Closeted racism is a real thing, but exposing it is the first step towards improving race relations in America.