There are days where I’m not in the mood to hear self-sanctifying symbolic gestures and narratives that distorts the actual story..
The third Monday in January are one of those days. It’s the national observance of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Every year, I see and hear the same dog-and-pony show: “love, not hate”, “a day of service”, unity, and posting pictures and quotes from him. I have come to ignore these because not only they are redundant…it is an incomplete portrait of Dr. King.
The “whitewashing” of King’s full legacy by media, historians, and most Americans needs a full exposure, not just the “love, not hate” and the “March on Washington” speeches.
There is another side to King that the dominant society doesn’t want to bring up when this holiday is observed: how his views evolved from integration to black empowerment and critiquing the American government and its motives.
This shift in King’s philosophy in 1967 made him a “dangerous (negro) man,” according to national media, friends and allies, and a top target for the head of the FBI, who was, reportedly, a cross dresser (if you haven’t figured it out, then you’re under 40 years old). The common narrative for Americans was that King was fighting for integration and peace. That’s not entirely true, nor is it accurate.
King wasn’t pushing for integration, per se. It was one factor in his mission in 1967. He was in favor of full restitution (economic reparations) to Blacks after being enslaved to perform free labor. King was also in favor of full punishment and justice to those who intentionally harm Blacks, and pushed for black economic empowerment, as a method for equality.
The goodwill that was bestowed on King changed after his speech at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 (one year to the day of his assassination in 1968), where he voiced his opposition of the Vietnam War. He questioned how could the United States would prefer to use their resources in creating strife and war in another country and abandon the effort to improve civil rights for Black Americans. One hundred and sixty eight newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post excoriated him, saying that “he should stay in his lane” of addressing black issues. Some of his white and black supporters including Whitney Young and Ralph Bunche publicly criticized him for attempting to stray from black issues. Time Magazine, who named him Man of the Year were not kind to his Riverside Church comments as well.
You have to take pause and ask a simple question: “why is America deifying a man in which they hated for venturing outside the box and seeking specific tangibles for Black America? Hence my issue of how the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been sanitized and whitewashed to make the dominant society and non-blacks feel good about themselves and not having to face their own racism, externally or internally.
In 2018, former Rolling Stone magazine writer Matt Tiabbi wrote how American media, and America itself, resorted to revisionist history as it relates to Dr. King. Not only is it a scathing criticism, it was a one of a few revelations about how this nation would rather wax poetically about how we “get along”, and yet revert back to our old habits. I’ll get to that last sentence in a moment, but it would be remiss of me not to post this YouTube video, to echo Tiabbi’s piece and the growing sentiment of how America is unwilling to fully accept the full body of work, thoughts, and tactics that King was evolving towards prior to his assassination in 1968.
Edit: the original video was made private in 2022 by the content creator. I have replaced it with this video, made in 2022.)
It isn’t coincidence that I’m writing this and there is a transition of presidential powers on Wednesday.
Many Americans, especially non-blacks, will speak of King in reverence due to his pinnacle speech during the March on Washington in August 1964, receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, and his role in organizing bus boycotts during the Civil Rights era. These things are true about King. However, that is where the media and the “sanitized” narrative stops at, as it relates to the dominant society.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 1964)
That quote above is used over and over…but what does that really mean? To me, King dreamt of the opportunity for black children to be treated equally and judged by their character, and not be treated like slaves. Unfortunately, this nation doesn’t believe a word of that quote at all. It’s only convenient and easy to the dominant society (nee white Americans) to dissociate themselves and their role in white supremacy.
White Supremacy isn’t an individual, or some fringe right-wing militia group. It is an ideology and a mindset that White Americans, and whites worldwide, feel that the rules they put into place does not apply to them, and they feel that they’re more superior than other groups, namely Black people. A good number of White Americans will say that they do not believe in this ideology, however their actions, be it unintentional or intentional, speaks volumes. They become defensive, to the point of being hostile, if a Black person points out something that racially motivated.
In closing, the hypocrisy of how America treated King in the last year of his life, then to espouse him as a hero today, is appalling. Look at these two social media posts below. Two intelligence agencies went out of their way to spy on him, record, keep files, and smear him at every opportunity. In 2019 and 2020, they post the following on their respective Twitter accounts.
This brings me to another “holiday” this week. There is nothing to celebrate about, not for this black writer. This inauguration will not “heal” this nation, restore faith, and bring unity, after such a “divisive” time. That’s bullshit. We were never united…we just tolerate each other. How can there be healing when Blacks are always a target for violence and hatred? We don’t want a hug. We want punishment.
The only way this “healing” will be done is pulling the cover off of America’s false pretense of being a great nation, when it continues to show there disdain towards Black Americans. And, truth be told, there’s a lot of White Americans, Democrat, Republican, upper class, middle class, low class, educated, and uneducated who isn’t ready to accept the reality that in the next 20-30 years, they will become a minority group.
The idea of losing power and control to someone that doesn’t look like them is a scary proposition.
The only people who are celebrating this inauguration (unabashed “can’t do no wrong well-to-do Democrats) were the sore losers who dressed up in black, wore pink p—y hats, and spent four years of their waking lives talking about a person that they did not want to see be elected. The gleeful winners (Republicans) are now the sore losers who can’t accept the losses.
These are your Democrats and Republicans. Self-righteous, ego-driven, tone-deaf groups of people who lives for the drama of clout chasing, and career climbing. And the sheep blindly follows them until they are no longer useful.
When you ask these people what is it exactly that the new president will do specifically for Black Americans, these people, especially Democrats, don’t have anything to say, other than “Trump’s gone, that’s all we care about!”. It sounds like The Lincoln Project need to come up a real policy-driven agenda, since their whipping boy won’t be around to kick in the pants.
Biden made it clear in his call to black civil rights leaders several weeks ago: he will not sign an executive order, or do anything to address and tackle the systemic murder and harassment of Black Americans by law enforcement agencies, the militia groups that are affiliated with them. He will, however, promised to give more money to LEO agencies or “police reform.”
If that’s the case, then why are so many Black Americans willing to “wait” and see if something will happen? LGBTQ do not wait. Latinos do not wait. Asians do not wait to see if something they want will happen.
Those groups will go to work and make it happen…without going to a ballot box. And yet, Blacks are told to go home, pray, and vote. “Don’t ask no questions. Shut up and vote.” This five decades hamster wheel is about to meet its end.
“Don’t call us…we’ll call you…(if we ever get to your issues, like ever.).
Last summer, I wrote to Iowa state representative Zach Wahls this letter, when he asked for suggestions about putting together legislation to address the police killings of Black Americans:
All of you are at fault. You hear us, but you don’t listen to us.
We don’t want “thoughts and prayers”, hashtags, and empty talk from elected officials who say “I hear you” but won’t follow through. There is no amount of reform to correct unnecessary force, community policing, and criminal justice reform that will resolve this matter, or the past incidents over the past four centuries.
Here’s a serious question: how is reforming LEOs through sensitivity training, diversity training, having picnics or whatever is going to make a LEO change his mindset and become a better officer? There are laws on the books that citizens follow. If we break those laws, we face punishment. The only groups of people who do not face such punishments are LEO’s, elected officials, and very financially well-off people. The public wants to know “if we are charged and convicted of murder, why are LEOs not being charged for physical assault and murder of citizens who posed no threat to them?” They should fall under the laws like the citizens.
What was Wahls and his colleagues’ response before they adjourned in June 2020? Passing a milquetoast “reform” bill which bans chokeholds and bars any one with a criminal record from applying to be in law enforcement.
No such thing as punishment, removing qualified immunity, or holding agencies accountable for their actions.
It is with this that I will say that I do not expect any changes from Joe Biden and his administration as it relates to addressing the constant threat and racism Black Americans have been under for nearly five decades, and especially since the assassination of King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and other authentic black activists.
I will be doing the same thing I have done in 2009, 2013, and 2017 on Inauguration Day: reading, running errands, and keeping my head on a swivel. You never know what type of crazy will come at you: a white Karen, a “Loud Boy”, or some trigger happy loose cannon wearing an uniform.
Go ahead and celebrate. Keep hoping that things will return to normal. Because in this atmosphere we’re in right now, COVID-19 isn’t going away, White Supremacy and the groups who believe in the ideology isn’t going away when Biden is sworn in.
Only a fool living in a protected bubble would believe that. Congress found out the hard way. They thought they were protected.
The goons stormed into Capitol Hill. Now Congressmen and Congresswomen are feeling like what Black America has been feeling forever: fear and safety for their lives. Serves them right for not trying to form legislation to come down hard on these domestic terrorists.
There will not be a celebration. If you celebrate on Wednesday, you will be the only one to do it.
Black America will sit this one out.