This note is for people who see anger and criticism for aspects of today’s society. Instead of supporting it, they call it “disruptive” or “too angry.” I have a small history lesson for you.

During the civil rights movement, plenty of white moderates supported civil rights. But called people fighting for them “outside agitators.” Including Martin Luther King Junior. A New York Times article checks King’s past writing for his feelings on these white moderates. Part of the article summarizes it like so:

Whereas the “ill will” of the rabid segregationist was out in the open and could therefore be combated, the “shallow understanding from people of good will” threatened to enervate the civil rights movement into acceptance of an intolerable status quo. For King, moderation in the face of injustice might have been a worse problem than injustice itself.

The short version: these moderates understood issues in the abstract. But they never experienced the cruel effects firsthand. They say the status quo should change but have no desire to change it - often because they benefit even at others’ expense. So they dismiss any push to change the status quo as disruptive. Even if it’s for a cause they “support.”

Yes, these efforts are disruptive. By definition, one needs to disrupt a bad system to fix it. You need to tear out a broken pipe to put in a better on. Dismissing these efforts as “people only looking for attention” exposes one’s privilege fast. They never had to fight what so many others do each day.