|Real MLK, left|
Honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but don't get it twisted. King was not alone, thousands marched & preached & went to jail with him. Many of those heroes are still here today, fighting the same fight, & resisting the same injustice.
It's important to remember several things:
1) The Civil Rights movement did not end institutional racism. You are not off the hook as long as you benefit in some way from the system. That's my burden, and it's yours too. You can choose to grow up & face it, or stay a child & never be truly free.
2) Nonviolent resistance is easily quashed without the specter of revolt in the background. That is the lesson of the Occupy movement. No threat = unbridled oppression by the state.
3) King knew this, and played on those fears. This is called strategy. And it worked not because nonviolence is the only answer, but because even a corrupt, unjust system preferred to play by the movement's rules.
4) DO NOT use King's example as a way to bash contemporary social justice movements. The world is not the same as King's, and the racism we resist today is different in many ways. Mock relentlessly any corrupt politician or Fox News correspondent who profanes King's name by suggesting this or that has betrayed him in some way.**
5) King respected Marxist philosophy. He saw that economic injustice props up racial inequality. He protested the Vietnam War. He was in discussion with Malcom X and the Black Panthers. He recognized the force that oppresses the powerless — it's called Capitalism.
6) Listen & respect those who articulate their experience of institutional racism (or sexism or homophobia or whatever). It's not about you -- don't make it about you. If you listen to a painful story and hear only accusation, that's because you feel guilty about something. Work on that on your own. Don't derail the conversation to stage a self-intervention. Black people are not here to save you.
6a) "But not all white peop--" Shut up, right now.
6b) "I'm just color-bl---" I'm warning you. Just stop it.
7) If you hear some expression of Black (or gay or Latinx or trans or whatever) pride and hear a challenge to or a demeaning of yourself, you need to ask yourself why. Quick.
[Funk-related note: this song was James Brown's last charting pop hit until that Rocky IV horseshit. TV talking heads bloviated just as much about how it showed that Brown hated white people. Not true then, not true now. Move on, folks.]
8) Racism is by definition a tool of the powerful. It means using state and cultural power to act on ethnocentric discrimination. Someone calling you a honky is not racism. Distrusting you because you are white and you benefit everyday from a white supremacist system is not racism. If you don't like the effects, don't produce the causes.
9) White privilege doesn't mean things were easy for you. It means that you did not face certain challenges based on your identity. Develop empathy for those who have faced those challenges, and find common cause with the struggles to survive in a capitalist system. It's not perfect, but as long as you stay isolated & frightened you will be manipulated by white supremacist society.
10) Don't tell us what you would have done then. That's nostalgia. Do it now. It matters now. Now is action.
We've done heard it a million times before, but some of us are not receiving the message. So we keep broadcasting.
Stay tuned next Saturday for a new installment of "Music on the One" -- there's a reason they call it a revolutionary party.
** Lest you wonder, this is what William F Buckley, conservative darling of the time was doing when MLK was assassinated:
|Does sound like victim blaming to me...|