The Legacy of Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King is being honored today across the US.  MLK is a trending topic on social media, news outlets are rehashing stories about the Civil Rights movement and publicizing community events to honor the fallen leader.  Martin Luther King’s story is amazing and absolutely heroic.  But I feel like his legacy is being tarnished and Whitewashed.

Martin Luther King was a man that was beaten and imprisoned because of his protests against a tyrannical White supremacist government.  He was a Black man that fought for the rights of Black people and was surely motivated by concerns about the future of his own Black family.  He put everything on the line and died for his people. His movement was successful and created real and positive changes for Black Americans.

But we in America still live in a White supremacist, European centered culture.  Everything has to be not only accessible to Whites but centered around them.  That is made very clear by the historical retelling of MLK’s life.  He is said to be a man that wanted to bring the races together and bring about harmony in America.  He is also portrayed as a Confucius like figure.  I think that narrative is a lie to get White Americans to buy into his legacy.

First of all when you talk about race relations in America you need to think of hammers and nails.  Whites are the hammers.  Blacks are the nails.  The hammers like to act as though there is an ongoing disagreement between two parties on equal footing.  That has not been the case.  Blacks have been getting hammered since the origins of this country and the Civil Rights movement just asked to give Blacks a break.  Give them a shot at the chance to pursue happiness.

When mainstream media talks the accomplishments and goals of Dr. King they act as if he simply wanted Black and White people to hold hands and sing kumbaya together.  He was not the simpleton that history and the mainstream media make him out to be.  He was a freedom fighter for Black American people that had suffered centuries of oppression in the US.

He fought for displaced people that did not truly have a country of their own.  He fought for descendants of African slaves that were prisoners of this country.  Dr. King did not fight and die simply so Blacks could have White friends or land a date with a non Black person which is the story that is being sold across the world today through the American media and American public schools.

The same thing has happened to Nelson Mandela.  He was a brave freedom fighter that fought for Black people in South Africa and won basic rights.  Mandela is also being marketed as a Black man that dreamed of a rainbow nation and wanted to bring about so called racial reconciliation.  This version of history is a lot easier for White people to digest because they are not confronted with their own past.

Since Donald Trump was elected as president in the US I have observed that the media sympathizes with racist notions that affirm White supremacy.  The media typically portrays Whites as heroes or victims.  The stories of the Civil Rights movement can not be accurately told and still portray Whites as heroes or victims.  So the truth is being rewritten.

This disingenuous retelling of history is damaging to all Americans.  There is no way that White supremacist ideas will ever change if they are not confronted.  White Americans refuse to do the soul searching necessary to bring about the cultural changes necessary to bring about the racial reconciliation that they pay lip service to every year.

It’s also dangerous to Black people because it gives them the message that your prosperity lies in other communities.  Most African Americans do not really want to be independent from White tyranny and they don’t believe that Black communities can be self sufficient.  The bogus retelling of history reinforces the notion that Black people need other communities, especially Whites to survive.

I’m very unsure of what is being taught in American schools today.  But I urge everyone to seek out information on the American Civil Rights movement.  Remember to focus your attention of the Black community because those are primarily the people that stood up to American authoritarianism and made modest gains in order to improve their lives, communities and the futures of their children.  As a Black American woman I am grateful for their struggle.

Black on the Fourth of July

This week America celebrated the Fourth of July.  I don’t do a lot to observe the holiday because I do not have a lot of family in the area and I don’t have much experience cooking on the grill.  I don’t have children so I don’t buy fireworks.  But I did enjoy the day off and even when I have had to work on the Fourth of July I enjoyed the holiday pay.

This year on social media I saw numerous posts and tweets being circulated encouraging Black people not to celebrate the Fourth.  Some of the social media messages even criticized Black people that do observe the Fourth of July.  I found these memes to be annoying and arrogant.  “Woke” people on social media often come across that way.

Look.  I get it.  I totally understand why so many Black people feel the way they do about the Fourth of July.  Blacks were enslaved in 1776 and the freedoms that this country is supposed to offer her citizens were never intended to be enjoyed by Blacks.  When you consider the culture of America when the Bill of Rights and the Constitution exposed how hypocritical and callous this country is towards Africans.

But despite what Blacks have faced throughout American history we are the greatest patriots of all.  America as we know it would not exist without Blacks.  The U.S. has the biggest economy the world has ever seen and it was built by Black labor.  In history class American students learn the phrase “Cotton is King” which refers to the juggernaut which was the cotton industry in the 1800s.  It wasn’t savvy business decision that made cotton king it was slave labor and brutal, savage force that made cotton king.

The cotton industry of the 1800s supported the textile industry of the early 1900s which was closely related to the northern Industrial Revolution.   The Industrial Revolution gave opportunities to European immigrants in the North East.  Without Blacks immigrants never would have had an America for which to come.

African Americans are only about 12% of this country and we only live in a few areas but we have influenced the culture in many ways even though we often don’t receive recognition for our contributions.  Blacks have influenced American music, cuisine, sports, fashion, politics, fine arts and sciences.  Without us American culture would be bland an utterly unrecognizable.

I’m not sure that the world had ever or has ever seen anything quite like the American Civil Rights fight of the 1960s.  A group of people that have been reviled and thought of as farm animals in the land where they were born stood up to the U.S. federal and state governments and won in mostly peaceful demonstrations.  People that have had their features mocked and ridiculed proclaimed that Black is beautiful and the said loudly that they were Black and proud.  That took bravery.

Since the 1960s other groups have mimicked the Black civil rights movement.  I don’t believe the feminist, LGBT or immigrant civil rights movements would have ever taken shape without the Black movement first.  Once again we provided inspiration for others in this country.  As far as immigration is concerned Blacks once again paved the way for the way for the next wave of newcomers in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Most of these immigrants come from brown countries and they would not have stood a chance if African Americans hadn’t stood up to White racism first.

We’ve been here trying to make America great all along.  No one really has tried to hold America accountable for her actions they way Blacks have.  We believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights more than anyone.  Because we actually support all Americans having the same rights.  So if you don’t want to celebrate the Fourth of July then don’t.  But if you see other African Americans enjoying fireworks, a cookout or a day at the lake don’t judge and spare us the self righteous “woke” routine.

My family has probably been in this country about seven generations now and they sacrificed greatly for me to have the opportunities that I have in this country.  I’m proud to be an African American and the Fourth of July can be seen as a day to salute patriots and freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman, Malcom X and Angela Davis.

We deserve to be protected by police instead of targeted by them.  We deserve equal opportunities and access to quality jobs and education.  And se deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this country that those that came before us suffered greatly for.