Is quoting Martin Luther King racism?

Daniël Lakens (@Lakens) is currently being heavily critised by fellow open science researchers committed to critical social justice over quoting Martin Luther King when talking about replicable science. Apparently it’s not allowed to quote MLK if being white or talking about topics considered less important than racism. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, Daniël, it’s quite impossible nowadays to predict what academic colleagues will read into a seemingly harmless post.


Oh my, @Lakens, had no idea you’re “known for racist behaviors”. Who else have you quoted during the wrong month to earn such a reputation?

Want to share your perspective on this?

It seems he is handling both this and the linked bad way of asking for help in the best possible way: Succinctly and humorously pointing out how they are wrong and then not caring or wasting too much time on it.

Hi, I am listening to all these comments, although I am not replying to any - it is not a thing you can easily address in a few tweets. I just discussed this for an hour in my lab, where the people who attend hold very different views, and in an hour long conversation, you can much more clearly discuss this topic. I clearly learned that this quote was very sensitive for some people, and I will take that into account in the future. It was just a thought I had while doing the dishes, and I tweeted it out. I did not intend to equate open science with civil rights - I intended to talk about how change is very very slow, but has a clear direction towards improvement - which is what I think the original quote means. Next time, I will just say this directly, without using a quote - it is clearly more useful to communicate in ways that can be less easily misunderstood - regardless how they could be misunderstood. About any racist history, I think my actions - all my actions, not just some presented out of context - should speak for themselves. Not every action I take results in a good outcome, even if that was the intention.


The words you forgot to say are ‘I am sorry’. To be clear, that means apologising for saying hurtful, insensitive things, regardless of your intentions. It does not mean one of your classic, take no responsibility apologies such as ‘I’m sorry you misinterpreted what I said.’ or any variation thereof.

Also, are you really saying that there is a context where it is acceptable for a powerful white man, such as yourself (and cut the crap Daniel, you know exactly how much power you have), to say what you said to me?