January 20, 2019
The Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign is sickened and grieved by the hate and mockery shown to indigenous people by Covington (KY) Catholic high school students while in Washington DC on Saturday. That it happened on the weekend of a federal holiday that honors a man of justice makes it even more poignant.
We stand in solidarity with Mr. Nathan Phillips, the central elder in the video, and other indigenous people whose basic humanity was disrespected, threatened and violated. We support the sovereignty of indigenous peoples.
Many, as sickened as we, are saying this is not our Kentucky, while others remind us, this is exactly our Kentucky. Both are true.
The racist behavior and actions of these students are deplorable, and the students are responsible for their behavior.
It is helpful to remember that this behavior comes out of a context, from generations of hate, fear and divide and conquer tactics that have been woven into the fabric of this country, continuing today from Washington DC and Frankfort, Kentucky, both verbalized blatantly and put into public policies. Among many others:
· A President who won’t condemn white nationalists and separates babies from parents.
· A Governor who takes healthcare from the poorest of Kentuckians.
· A Kentucky legislature, whose majority criminalizes youth of color and won’t restore the voting rights of former felons.
· By politicians who will quote Martin Luther King, Jr. today while working yesterday and tomorrow against everything he stood for.
When the Covington Archdiocese and the Covington Catholic High School Principal investigate this situation as promised, we hope they also consider how these students who yelled ‘Build the wall’ to indigenous leaders, are missing such basic understanding of our history.
We hope they help students come to understand that the potential greatness of America, whose wealth was built on land stolen from the ancestors of those they mocked and on the backs of enslaved people, is ahead of us not behind us. We have far to go to claim greatness, and we don’t get there by hate and racism.
The Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, based on our deepest religious and constitutional values, demand justice for all, and we work to build a society free from poverty, systemic racism, the war economy and environmental devastation. We invite you to join us in our efforts to build the Kentucky we are not yet...but hope to become.
KY Poor People’s Campaign