Hell 2 Da Naw Naw: Using MLK’s Name In Vain
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Unfortunately, once again in America, the struggle over racial strife which for decades continues to bubble over and explode again and again has once again reached another milestone in our history.
As debates on social media rage on as they always do, I find myself quite perturbed by many who incorrectly attempt to invoke Martin Luther King's name and message during these debates. Saying things like, "I wish we had an MLK right now", and writing articles about "I Have A Dream" as a way to bring about some sort of "peace and comfort".
Before I explain to you how your usage of Dr. King's name is in vain and how it parallels to modern times, let's look back at America's long history with this issue by beginning with the time Dr. King was living in.
I don't have to go into great detail, but "separate but equal" was the law of the land in some states, and Dr. King's message of "non-violence" resonated around the world...except in America. His message and protests were met with violence across the country because people were resistant to change.
According to "The Feed", the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research historical polling data found after his assassination in 1968, more than 60 percent of the US public viewed Dr King more negatively than positively, and 31 percent “felt he brought [his death] on himself”.
They didn't listen then...until cities went up in flames. But there's another invocation of Dr. King's message that has also been used incorrectly:
"a riot is the language of the unheard."
But you only see that part of the quote. It didn't mean MLK "endorsed" riots and looting. Look at this entire quote and understand the context:
Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention”- Dr. Martin Luther King
Have you been listening to us? Have you really? Has America really changed and made social justice and progress priorities? The answer is complicated overall, but in the area of dealing with police brutality, the answer is a clear no.
We are well aware of those who have hijacked the message in hopes that you will stop listening by looting and causing mayhem, but that doesn't mean our message isn't worth listening to. If you're more concerned about the insured buildings and property than the lives at stake, then you really need to re-examine your stance, especially if you're "pro-life".
MLK's peaceful protest was met with violent opposition and a violent death. And every few decades since that time, when another unarmed person is killed by police brutality and we protest and we share our outrage as a nation, we never address the issue and we go back to normal. Every one pretends it's okay because we are drained and tired. But the tension still simmers below, awaiting the next moment to explode.
The reason you're using MLK's name in vain is because you admire the message but have not acknowledged the problem. The same problem that took his life. The same problem that has taken so many lives due to police brutality, which continues to happen to African Americans and minorities at a disproportionate rate. The problem of racism. But even if you don't believe its a "race" thing and buy that "whites" are killed by police more than blacks, guess what: it's a human rights issue and you should be marching with us.
But are you listening?
You are invoking MLK's name to curb dissent against a system that you may be blinded by because of your privilege and your protection by it. MLK's message was all about dissent against a system that you believe has been unjust towards you, so I get it if you don't understand how this affects African Americans and minorities and it doesn't bother you, even though it should.
We're just a few weeks removed from protests of similar fashion over "restrictions" for public health reasons. Why can't we object to something that is literally suffocating us?
If you wish for an MLK now, you had one. A man that held a silent, non-violent protest that galvanized a movement which was also met with loud and sometimes violent opposition from those who didn't agree. They focused not on the message but the "method" of his non-violent protest.
The very reason for a protest is to call your attention to something very important, and that something has once again bubbled over into the streets of America and you long for peace again right? Don't count on it from the Commander In Chief. He's worried about re-election, but maybe, just maybe you should have listened to that modern MLK. How much further along the path of change we could be.
But you didn't listen did you?