Monday, January 18, 2016
I'm not a historian, although I do try and learn as much about the past as I can whenever possible. I'm also not a social activist, and I am not a journalist. I preface this blog by saying my expertise is not in politics, sociology or religion. The man at the center of the discussion in this blog embodied all of those things. He lived them and died for his beliefs. I am nothing like Martin Luther King Jr. in a professional sense. But the one undeniable thing we do have in common, was a major center piece for his work and movement: He was a black man in America, and so am I.
This is not a history lesson. If you want to know about Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, work, speeches and so forth, may I suggest Google. They even have a pretty nice tribute to him on the search engine page today (Kudos!).
This blog is about being a black man in America. This is about one mans dream and life work that landed him in an early grave. It's about a government who admitted to being a part of a plot to murder one of its own citizens. It's about a legal and judicial system that hasn't changed much in the almost 50 years since his death. This is about reality. A very sad present day reality that was a future MLK fought hard to avoid.
I will assume if you have the intellect to decipher and comprehend the words of this blog, that by now you have heard MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech. I will further assume that you have at least seen a documentary, read a book, saw a movie, or at least half way paid attention in school when his life and legacy was taught. So I'm skipping all of that and getting right down to where we are now. Are we as a country anywhere near the dream that MLK had for the future? Was all that work, the marching, the sermons, the back room politics, the arrests, did it really change things? As a black man in America, my answer is a resounding NO.
You can argue that some things have changed for the better, and I will not deny that depending on exactly what things you are specifically talking about. The very center of MLK's work and one of his biggest issues he championed for was the right for black people to legally vote in all elections. While that goal was accomplished, I will point you to the present day concerted effort made by many Republican lawmakers to make it increasingly difficult for people of color and low income to be able to vote in elections. These "Voter I.D." laws are set up and designed to make it hard for a certain demographic of people to vote in present day elections. That's pretty much the same exact thing MLK was fighting to end 50 years ago. Oh wait, you don't know about those? Here you go: WHY VOTER ID LAWS ARE UNFAIR
Unless you have no access to TV, newspapers, books or the Internet, then I know you have seen plenty of the images of police brutality and domestic terrorism by hate groups being done to black people in MLK's day. Are you really going to sit here and try to make an argument about what's going on present day in this country as it pertains to this? Seriously, do I need to mention the countless murders of black men by law enforcement that has made national and world news over the last few years? Do you need links and pictures to remind you about a white kid walking into a black church and murdering 9 people simply because they were black in South Carolina? If you need proof that MLK's dream has definitely not become reality in this regard, you are simply in denial or stupid, more than likely both.
It's 2016, and in the last 2 years there are plenty of examples of injustices hurled upon black people by the same justice system we are supposed to trust. We had top news stories, trending hash tags on social media, marches, protest and even all out riots that are addressing pretty much the exact same things MLK addressed long ago. The emergence of the first non white president in this countries history seemed like we were on the right track. But ultimately all that did was uncover and expose the deep seeded racism from citizens, to politicians and more that just laid dormant in this country. When we add to that recent examples, like a whole city of predominantly poor or black citizens being essentially poisoned via the water supply by their state and local government, it's pretty clear this dream of MLKs is not reality.
What can we do NOW to try and make the dream that this great man gave his life in pursuit of a reality?
We elected a bi-racial President and then gave him 2 terms at that, but did that change anything? We had two million man marches, and a few all out riots in major US cities. But for the black man in America, not much has changed in the grand scheme of things. We still don't own much land or our own businesses. The black church has had enough scandal and super rich pastors flying around in luxury jets to pretty much discredit most of what they preach. This is the reality that we live in, and I'm almost positive that this was nothing that MLK dreamed about.
To top it all off, we haven't had any one step up and fill the shoes of MLK. There is no one that I can think of from his generation, mines or even my sons generation that has been able to pull off half of what he did. Leaders are important in any conflict, and yes this is indeed a conflict we find ourselves in right now. Dare I say an all out war, but that scares some of you to the point you that you want nothing to do with what's really needed to bring change. You would much rather live in this reality than actually lay your life on the line as MLK did. And I get that, because the truth is people like him aren't the norm in our society or species.
In honor of MLK and all of his work and sacrifice, I am writing this blog because there will never be change without openly admitting and recognizing the problems and issues that need to be fixed. He did a lot more speaking, preaching and writing to help get people in the right mind frame before he took any action. But, the action is where real change will ultimately come from.
Collectively, there is a sickening complacency that has set in amongst many black people in America. Because we can go home and watch a little TV, afford decent meals and entertainment now and then, maybe even splurge on fancy houses and cars, many of us forget MLK's dream is not yet reality.
Then a guy gets choked to death by the cops, no one is held accountable and we say "how is that possible?" We have countless family members in prisons for years behind this facade called "the war on drugs", while white Wall Street bankers don't even stand trial for basically looting and bankrupting the nation. This is possible because we have distractions from the reality in which we live that has made us lazy, complacent enablers to it all.
In closing, I would like to send out a sincere apology to the late Martin Luther King, Jr. I am sorry that I have in some ways myself been a party to shaping this reality for me and my children to live in. You worked very hard to give us a good starting point, and we blew it big time. May you rest in peace, and hopefully your dreams will indeed one day come true. I hope that your ultimate sacrifice doesn't end up just being another paid day off and a reason to put your face on a club flyer to promote a party. You made us all proud, and I don't know where the hell that pride went good sir.