Monday, January 18, 2016

AKA: The day America pretends its achieved racial equality

Why yes it is Martin Luther King day again. A day where we, as a nation revere the great civil rights leader (well, at least since 2000 for some states who had be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age.) Well, at least we revere the watered-down, defanged, milquetoast version of MLKjr at any rate (see also post-Parkinsons Muhammad Ali, who, by sheer coincidence I'm sure, became a more "beloved" figure as older age and disease caused him to become less outspoken.) As the civil rights struggle continues with Black Lives Matter and other activist groups (whose acts of civil protest prove that they are trouble-making rabble-rousers, unlike that well-behaved MLK who...oh wait.), I think this is a good time to highlight an article that gives a more comprehensive look at King's legacy and activism. In particular, this piece dispels notion that non-violent protest is and must be stripped of urgency, assertiveness and confrontation. As the article states:

In its time, King’s use of nonviolent resistance generated a nearly unending stream of controversy. And in this era of Black Lives Matter, it is critical to remember that, far more than a serving as a peacemaker, King was an advocate of disruption.
Too often (yes on "both sides of the aisle"), King has been inaccurately classified as a mild-mannered "wimp", a "good black" because our desire for revisionist history on racial matters has led the impact of his work rather misunderstood (Surprise! He wasn't always such a "beloved" figure):

Looking back from the safe remove of history, it can be easy to imagine that landmark social and political causes of the past— whether they involved ending slavery, securing the franchise for women, or establishing standards of workplace safety — were popular and widely celebrated. But the truth is that these issues generated tremendous acrimony. In promoting them, activists had to make the difficult decision to invite division and hostility before they achieved their most impressive results.
King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) often drew criticism not only from defenders of segregation, but also would-be allies who believed the protests the organization helped lead were unduly abrasive and ultimately counter-productive. In this way, King bears much in common with the #BlackLivesMatter activists who are currently being attacked for perceived impatience and incivility in promoting their cause.

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