I have an old postcard of Martin Luther King tucked inside a sketchbook buried somewhere. Underneath I wrote that you can tell how important a man is based on how many microphones are put in his face when he opens his mouth. Martin Luther King. Dr. King. The one to have the insight to realize that fire can not be fought with fire. One of the most prominent brothers to rise up in these, the United States of America. Demonized by whites early on, and now used as a token by the descendants of those white… a token that black people have come so far. Black people. Stolen. Forced into slave labor. “Freed” but given no direction. Treated as second class citizens until it was people like Dr. King to come along a mere fifty years ago and say “No More.” No more separate water fountains. No more segregated schools. No more bombings. No More lynchings. Let us work together. Let us come together.
(Malcom X criticism of Dr. Martin Luther King)
These days a foot note by the white majority. The name sake of streets nobody but the downtrodden colored walk on. I remember my girl and I going to get Ital food in Liberty City from an old Rasta that cooked up whatever he had that day and literally served it to you in a brown paper bag through a hole in a wall. The shop was located on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard and murals in his honor dotted the cement walls of buildings along the way.
(The Reverend Martin Luther King responds to Malcolm X’s criticisms of his philosophy.)
On this day in 2007 I wrote “The sun has not yet even risen over Miami as it soon will in remembrance of a pacific bodhisattva who we so often simply refer to as Dr. King when a young black eighteen year old high school boy finds himself slumped and bloody on the door step of his family’s home on NW 35th Street in a neighborhood known as Allapattah. Tomorrow morning the Miami Herald will reveal that his name is Garvin Webster in a news story tagged with the headline “Robbers on Bikes fatally shoot Miami teen.”
“I am reminded of Dr. King’s sermon in a time where as an American I not only distrust the president of my country but furthermore I regard him as my enemy. I am reminded of Dr. King’s sermon in a time when I have yet another white man from a historically rich family making decisions for a diverse country that are driven by personal entrepreneurship and not that of the country or any other facet such as safety, happiness, or freedom. Internationally speaking, I am reminded of Dr. King when North African immigrants reside in the suburbs of Paris where they pursue a better life for their families yet are treated as second class citizens. I am reminded of Dr. King when I reflect on the treatment of darker skinned Hispanics in Latin America or the darker skinned residents of Brazil who live in shanty towns known as Favelas. I am reminded of Dr. King every time the NYPD fatally shoots an unarmed black man. I am reminded of Dr. King again and again when I open the newspaper and another young black person is shot and killed here on the streets of Miami.”
The last I checked brothers are hunted down and murdered one a day where I used to live in Overtown, Miami. The last I checked central Brooklyn is an isolated area for murder out of all five boroughs of the city of New York. Ignorant mother fuckers still fire off guns in my street as celebration. Young men are still walking around like slaves not taught their history. Young black men are still far more likely to be in prison or unemployed in this country. The election of Barack Obama is a very small dot on an entire demographic that needs to lift itself up… because nobody else will. There is a misconception that the ills of black America have been resolved by the election of our new president. The election of Barack Obama is more a break through for white America than it is for blacks. The black vote did not put Obama in the white house. Blacks are still a minority… still barely 10% of this country. Blacks are still marginalized on the outskirts and given that classic American freedom… the freedom to be ignored and to die slowly. The freedom to be exploited. The freedom to kill one another. No body kills black people more than black people these days. There is a reason I keep my wallet in my front pocket when I walk through my neighborhood. There is a reason I have to escort my girlfriend three blocks so she doesn’t get harassed. Black Americans have got to do better. No more violence. No more enemies.
All I have to say this year is the same as I’ve said every year. And like every year I am reminded of one sermon in particular.
In a world defined by ones who shall be deemed an “enemy” I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermon. Due to the breadth of said sermon, I leave you with only an excerpt, but one that I feel speaks infinitely about understanding our world today.
Get up, Stand up…
“I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”
Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”