"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Forty Years Later"

News sources and blogs everywhere are paying tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. today, on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, but if you only get to read ONE thing about it today, make it this post, from Diary of an Anxious Black Woman, in which she offers insight into the type of civil rights work Dr. King would be doing if he were with us today:

Getting back to Dr. King, he is the kind of insightful man who would have awakened from his coma in our present day, slowly observe the "progress" of Black America AND would have been 100 times more outraged that so many black men and women are being imprisoned at a ridiculous rate and THEN put Viacom and all other Big Media on full blast for creating the kind of cultural atmosphere in which we can tolerate such a horrendous incarceration epidemic, thanks in part to the glamorization of thug/street culture, which has done nothing but justify why black men (with their scary-looking "gangsta style") and black women (with their out-of-control, booty-shaking, thunder-clapping bodies) need to be on lockdown.

Seriously. He would also take issue with the present "leadership" and would have immediately started some grassroots organizing on behalf of the incarcerated and the dispossessed in the post-Katrina gulf coast, he would extend his work to address immigration rights, especially in the wake of post-9/11. And if he had the patience to be educated, which I believe he did, he'd also find connections with the feminist and LGBT social movements and loudly criticize his daughter Bernice for her homophobia. He'd also put the black church on full blast for their horrendous move from the social gospel to neoconservative materialistic dreams (T.D. Jakes, I'm looking at you!).

In short, he'd be disturbed by hip-hop culture, but he would NEVER take it more seriously than all the above issues I mentioned. I do realize The Boondocks satire is meant for a black audience, since the directive was leveled against us, but you know, if we're going to try and imagine "what would Dr. King do today?" let's do the man justice, forty years later, by remembering that he was assassinated NOT because he was fighting Racism but BECAUSE he dared to make the link between racial oppression, imperialism overseas (Vietnam War), and class oppression (his work to address poverty in the never-materialized Poor People's March before he was gunned down). As a hip-hop generationer, I urge all of us to look beyond our own ghettos, suburbs, gentrified neighborhoods, etc. and start making similar connections.

If Dr. King's "dream" was about anything, it was about our learning to be accountable towards one another and to "fight injustice anywhere" precisely because it was a threat to "justice everywhere."