My MLK day blog may be a bit preachy for some. Maybe dry and boring for others. Who cares. Fuck 'em. I say what I have to.
I wasn't able to sleep again, so first thing this morning I noted on CNN.com they had a poll posted that claimed that two-thirds of all African Americans believe that Martin Luther King's dream has already been realized. This only proves how stupid they are.
Let me make this emphatically clear. The economy is shit. The environment is going to hell. Population is out of control. We're socially as barbaric as we ever were. If the world in general, as well as the United States, is fucked; then African Americans have been DP'ed without lube. But if someone's too dumb to realize it, should they even care?
While at college I had the privilege of studying under one Dr. Herb Simon who had been a Leader of the Civil Rights movement in Philadelphia. Yeah, he was a little Jewish guy, so no one would immediately suspect that he had anything to do with the politics of African Americans in the 60's and 70's. But he personally knew people like Bobby Seale, and would invite them for regular symposiums. It was cool as shit.
So I did manage to learn from some fairly decent primary sources. And most of them agree that the Dream is a dream deferred.
This last election, I saw the abominable polarization that was indicative of exactly how much wool has been pulled over the eyes of blacks. The evening of the election, as soon as the 'results' were announced, my wife and I got a phone call. My wife is black, and the call was from her family. They had, unbeknownst to us, held an election party and they were calling us to celebrate the election of Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, my wife and I were sitting quietly on the couch, watching the numbers for the senate and house seats. We realized that despite a democratic president, a less than 2/3 majority on the Hill would mean that Republicans could still filibuster and create lame duck sessions of congress, as well as effectively blocking most of the president's legal abilities. When we told our concerns to her relatives, we were chided: 'Don't ruin out party. Live in the now and celebrate what we have.'
The very next day, my Uncle, a radio DJ and prominent Democratic supporter, was sitting in a pizza parlor having his lunch when two African American men came in chanting: 'Obama! Obama!' They then demanded to the girl behind the counter that they get the 'best seat in the house', and while my Uncle admits he was not sure what she thought, he claims the girl looked really confused. Then one of them pointed straight at my Uncle and said: 'Your reign is over, whitey.'
But what I have to ask, aside from the implications here, is that isn't the logic a bit contrary? I mean, if two thirds of African Americans believe that the Dream has been realized, then why would beliefs that an election like this bear any emotion that a 'reign' was over?
Social policy expert Dinesh D'Souza does tend to side with the two thirds. He claims that the Civil Rights battle has been won and it's time to move away from it to more important matters. That the fight for rights is 50 years out of date.
Another political analyst I was watching on Lehrer summed it up a different way. When Kennedy was elected it was a big deal that a Catholic was becoming president. Now, 40 years later, such a thing isn't important at all. The real sign there would be something wrong would be if it was still a big deal when Catholics were elected into office.
So what's the answer for African Americans? Which one is it? Some believe that they haven't gone back far enough and that ideals such as Afrocentricity or the Nation of Islam should be embraced. The problem is that both these ideals, and others like them, tend to preach two problematic 'solutions'. First, they suggest separatism, which has never fostered positive social growth in all of the world's history (lest we forget lessons like Rwanda or Tokugawa.) Secondly the ideals make light of the history and struggles that African Americans did genuinely contribute to this hemisphere.
I'm a believer in Ockam's Razor. That often the simplest answers are the most correct.
For those unaware, Atlantic City has recently installed a new park and monument dedicated to the civil rights movement in America. The Civil Rights Garden at Carnegie was designed by a white male artist. The story goes like this. He was contracted by the city but he was absolutely beside himself. He was floundering and had no idea what to do. At one point, he was at a function and he was complaining to a colleague that he was completely disassociated from the project as he felt no real connection to the theme. A nearby older black woman had overheard the conversation, excused herself, and put her two cents in: 'Do you really think that Dr. King's Dream was just for African Americans?' was all she said. It's all she had to say.
Here, in the United States, we have yet to obtain equality. Political, legal, and economic power is distributed in such a skewed fashion that over three quarters of the total population have minimal access at best. There is no sign to the end of the friction of racial tension. And the law of the land has defeated the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress no fewer than 70 times since 1923.
And yet year after year we elect new representatives to speak for our needs and desires. And we seem to all be so completely fucking stupid because the leaders we choose have yet to fulfill any 'Dream' of equality for us, to protect our interests, or to establish fair and unbiased policies of justice.
This day should be a day of remembrance as if it were a day of mourning.