Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Not A Racial Pokemon



I’m sure I’m not the first person who has noticed this, but whenever the topic of Black Lives Matter or more accurately whenever some black people protest (because Black Lives Matter is an organization, not all black people who protest or active in the community is a member of said organization but that’s another story) you inevitably will hear this talking point. “Martin Luther King Jr. would have…” This my friends drives me crazy for more than a few reasons that I will gladly list it for you. 

1. MLK ain't my daddy. 
One of my favorite podcasts is Negroes With A Podcast. In one of the episodes one of the hosts Vann Newkirk, a really dope writer from the Atlantic, made a great off the cuff remark that stuck with me. "MLK ain't my daddy." Why is it that he is thrown in to every black person's face when the topic of race is discussed? This is by no means any shade to Dr. King or his legacy but he was a man and it is possible to disagree with his opinion.

2. The masses didn't like MLK like they do now.
Today he is the universally beloved civil rights leader of yore. At the time he was reviled by opponents of equal rights and see as a trouble maker who was making too much noise. He was constantly under surveillance by the F.B.I. and in one particularly disturbing correspondence vaguely urged to kill himself. Seriously.

3. He protested "the right way." 

People like to talk about MLK and his acts of protest as if they were well received and well respected by those he was trying to reach. That could not be further from truth. All those claiming to want people to do it the right way bring up his marches and non violent ways yet constantly fail to bring up how he was physically attacked, spit on, and eventually assassinated.

4. Using one line from the "I Have A Dream" speech ignoring all of his other works.
Whenever racial strife or speaking of inequality you inevitable will be hit with a line from the "I Have A Dream Speech."
Not the only speech he ever gave.
 Undoubtedly that is one of the greatest speeches ever, but Dr. King said so much more. For people who question how someone can riot in their own neighborhood King once said: "It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard." The point is situations are nuanced, there isn't a single quote from King or anyone for that matter that can be used as a band aid on any situation.

Dr. King is a hero of mine, hell he should be a hero of all of ours but to trot him out only to try and shut people of color up is quite stupid. Read more than just the "I Have A Dream" speech and for God's sake listen when people are telling you their experiences.

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