Dreams and Nightmares: The Robbing of the Meek
I committed to writing about this man in a manner that wouldn’t just be a fogged up reflection of what usually gets written about him around this time period. I don’t know if this is possible, but this is my attempt. If I fail at this you may not be too invested in making peace with the failure but I will be, because producing originality on a subject like this is a tertiary concern of mine at this moment.
Today a man who the government helped assassinate (court proven) has a federal holiday. I’m chillin’, most of America is chillin’, and this is the last thing King would be doing, even on his own holiday. It is through this holiday that my understanding of federally and/or economically backed holidays has expanded even further. Instead of encouraging these days to be holy days of reflection, purge, and action, they are bleached as holidays where the highest perversion and inversion of values take place. You would think that if our country just got done going through a three week process acknowledging the birth of a radically righteous savior, acknowledging a new year, and acknowledging a man committed to that savior and to racial/global process that we would be deprogrammed and mobilized. Unfortunately, and deliberately, that exact opposite has occurred. Instead of logically receiving the following message in this three week process:
“Embrace your righteousness (Christmas), now’s the time to do it (The New Year), and this man explains why it is necessary in our country (Martin Luther King Jr. Day).”
We get this message this message instead:
“Stay spiritually uncentered (Christmas), self indulge (The New Year), because this man fixed all of our nations issues with race.”
They have turned the realities of my loved, flawed, incomprehensibly reflective and committed hero into a narrative of Mother Goose simplicity and ubiquity. If you ask many black students (older and younger) who MLK was, they provide “1+1=2” type answers like “he fought for Civil Rights” or “he gave us freedom,” and they are incapable of explaining anything further. I have had two colleagues (Wadup Will! Wadup Chuck!) that have had students tell them that Martin Luther King Jr. was a slave. This “Santaclausification” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (as I’ve heard Cornel West and Khalil Muhammad put it) strips the fertility of King’s experiences of most nutritional value. It has enabled masses of black and brown people to believe that the domestic arm of white supremacy was dismantled despite daily evidence of the opposite, and has enabled some of our more radical brothers and sisters to believe that King was a sucka. These particular brothers and sisters, enabled his-story have interpreted his mistakes as nonredeemable Uncle-Tomming. They haven’t seen King’s growth and the bravery that was needed to be unapologetic about it.
This was a man, who after leading/co-leading the successful charge of breaking through the crust of the globe of white supremacy, saw the mantle underneath the crust, and was unafraid to speak and act against it. In this mantle, King saw the technological, economic, and militaristic (The Vietnam War) branches of white supremacy which were foundational for the very crust that he had just penetrated. Mind you, his house had already been bombed, he had been stabbed, he had been to jail about 30 times, his family had been under great strain, great threat, great surveillance, and he had already achieved/co-achieved things that many of us still take for granted today. He had every reason to stop once he saw that mantle which was immeasurably deeper and more dangerous than the crust. Instead, Kings showed us what carrying a cross was for a people perishing due to a lack of knowledge. He prepared himself to make a journey to the center of the earth, despite criticism, despite family strain, and almost certain death.
These were things I didn’t begin to understand until I read his book Why We Can’t Wait. This was the insight and indefinable moral fiber that Dr. King encourages us to have, even now when it is even more necessary. We understand that it is obtainable once we see King was a real person (watch the documentary Citizen King), not another black man buried for a white lie. Teaching King’s unadulterated experience in schools or otherwise would radically reshape the understanding of our enormous power, and the dynamics of white supremacy that try to get us not to see that power, which include the corruption of a man’s legacy through a holiday, not a holy day. As for me, they can keep the propaganda, but I’ll start to take the opportunity. Peace and progress.
Our Battle Raps EP Release
Monday February 22