Actor Matt McGorry Challenges White People to ‘Investigate the Depth of Your Privilege’

Matt McGorry speaks during #JusticReformNow Capitol Hill Advocacy Day at Russell Senate Office Building on April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Actor Matt McGorry took to Twitter to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day by challenging white people to root out, engage with, and end the white supremacy in their own lives.

The former Orange is the New Black star recalled celebrating past MLK Days by posting the civil rights leader’s famous quotes to social media. McGorry recounted becoming “defensive” after a black women asked him why white people tend to post King’s more “apolitical” quotes.

“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, McGorry said in a video posted to Twitter on Monday. “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.”

The actor then shared another King quote he says “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,” McGorry said, quoting King.

“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 said

“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,” said, adding, “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.”

“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,” the actor concluded.

McGorry’s diatribe was similar to comedian Chelsea Handler’s, who honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day by challenging white people to think about “what it must be like to not be white.”

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson

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