Friday, April 04, 2008

Moving Further from Malcom on the 40th Anniversary of Martin Luther King jr.'s Death

TwitThis

Within the last few months, I have been moving further from
Malcolm
and closer to Martin.

Malcolm naturally appealed to me. For us, in the early 90's, witnessing
the vestiges of the 80's crack era, the notion of violence as a
method of obtaining and retaining power made sense.

In that era,
once caring fathers became crack zombies. My own dad
transformed in front of our very eyes. Pre-Crack, he was a man
who on Thursday broiled steaks, baked potatoes, and

dropped live lobsters in boiling hot water (much to my
curiosity and horror) for our weekly pre-Cosby Show meal.

Post-Crack, he turned into someone who disappeared
on pay day Friday's taking the rent money, the light money,
the money from the safe at his job and pretty much anything
else that wasn't nailed down to feed his jones.

My brother was impacted as well. Pre-crack here was the guy
who bought me my first Mantronix, LL Cool J and Beastie Boys
tapes
and took me on long adventurous bike rides that ended
with getting two scoops of mint chip ice cream. Post-Crack
he, like so many Black teenagers became baby faced D
boys with some big old guns.

Oh, the
guns. They were everywhere. As was murder.

I think that the fact that everyone had a gun,
Malcolm strapped
with the gat at the at the door, appealed to me.

Crack made the threat of violence hypernormal.

Yet, it was few months ago, around December 2007 that something
began to change in me.

I told Birkhold that I been chatting with Barry Michael Cooper (BMC),
who wrote The Village Voice piece that New Jack City was
based on.

Birkhold suggested that I get the original piece, which I did,
and that was the beginning of seeing both Malcolm and Martin
in a new light.

In the piece BMC made the connection between the violence
occurring in the hood in '88 to the race riots and state sanctioned
national guard murders in the 'hood circa '66, '67 and '68.

The rationale is that you can't have peace in crack laced
'88 with so much blood shed in during the race riots of
'66, '67, '68.

The fate of one precludes the fate of the other.

The seeds of violence were sewn.

We have been taught that Martin is soft
and that Malcolm was the truth. This distinction deserves
closer look. In many ways Martin had the heart of 2Pac,
the patience of Ghandi and the strategic ability of Sojourner
Truth.

Before his death he was transforming in front of our
very eyes and his commitment to social justice entailed
that we transform
along with him.

At the time of his death, Dr. King was getting ready to
protest in Washington for the purposes of abolishing
the Black White and Brown poverty in America.

King called his crusade the Poor People's Campaign. He planned to march on Washington with a multiracial army of poor people who would build shantytowns at the Lincoln Memorial -- and paralyze the nation's capital if they had to.

The campaign's goal: force the federal government to withdraw funding for the Vietnam War and commit instead to abolishing poverty.

The only thing more brave than the blood pumping in Malcolm's heart
when he was at the door with the gat, was the air moving in Martins
lungs when he said,

"It didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters ... but now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power," King said during a trip to Mississippi in February 1968.

I have begun to rethink both the effectiveness and limitations of violence, civil disobedience. I am not one hundred percent sold on either side.
But I am rethinking and asking questions and that is what
I can do today. Think about this,
The Poor People's Campaign has faded from historical memory. It remains the most overlooked part of King's legacy, Wilkins said.

It remains in the shadows because King rewrote the traditional civil rights script, Wilkins said. As long as he fed Americans images of bigoted Southern sheriffs clubbing demonstrators, people could remain comfortable. But the Poor People's Campaign gave Americans a new cast of villains: themselves. Americans didn't want to look at the face of poverty, but King was going to force them, he said.
So on the anniversary of his death, I am reflective on his legacy
and our future as well. I debated on writing this post and making
it as personal as it is.



Then I came across an account by Ron Klain
in the Times. RFK was in Indiana the day King was murdered and
was scheduled to speak to a large group of Black folks
.

Rejecting the advice of many around him, Kennedy continued toward the inner-city playground where he was to give his speech, undeterred by a police warning that they could not provide him with protection if things got out of control.

There, a raucous, happy crowd — unaware of the tragedy in Memphis — waited for the candidate to arrive. Kennedy informed the gathering of King’s death, and an audible wail of agony rose from the crowd. (You can see a home movie of the dramatic event by clicking here.) He then delivered, extemporaneously, one of the great speeches in American history. Some of the words from that speech are etched near Robert Kennedy’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery; they still speak to us today:

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

Riots, fires and violence broke out in more than 100 cities in the United States that night — but not in Indianapolis.

When I read that. I knew this post had to be personal or I would
risk not resonating with you.

Today, in furtherance of Kings Dream I am going to write
a letter to the DA in Alabama
who has decided to imprison pregnant
women who are addicted meth, rather than treat them like the addicts
they are and provide them with drug rehabilitation, intervention
and support.

What, if anything, are you going to do in furtherance of MLK's Dream?
What would you like to do if you could?
What would you like to see?
I look forward to your thoughts and reactions to this
rather vulnerable, super in the gristle of my life post.

18 comments:

jpollard said...

First I just want to give you much love and respect for sharing so much of your personal life not only on this post but throughout the many posts since this blog's inception.
In order to continue MLK's dream I am going to try find these two young cats I know some type of gainful employment. As impossible as it has been to find anything for them, I haven't reached out to them like I know I should.
To be honest I still question the effectiveness of King's non-violent beliefs. King himself wondered if we were "integrating into a burning house." King believed that black Americans had the moral responsibility to lead America, but how are we supposed to lead a country that has violence, inequality and injustice in its foundation and soul. I don't know the answer to that, but I do respect the power that the Poor People's Campaign represented and the legacy of Dr. King.

Chuck said...

I don't have anything thought provoking to add to the conversation, but I just wanna say this is one of the realest posts I've read here.

the crack era took a few of my family members (including one of my parents) away from me. None of them are dead, but the days where they are of any use to anyone except D-boys are over.

neo said...

What, if anything, are you going to do in furtherance of MLK's Dream?

Talk about it, rap about it, contribute financially in any way I can, use any podium or opportunity to shed light on issues..I feel its my Christian responsibility to do so..MLK's Dream ain't just his dream it was God's dream for mankind birthed in the heart of a man.

What would you like to do if you could?

As above..

What would you like to see?

Changes made in this regard, ppl reconciling..

I look forward to your thoughts and reactions to this
rather vulnerable, super in the gristle of my life post.

Props yo, I know its not easy to put your life out there in lines for us to read. It must have taken a lot out of you but I am all the more thankful considering to me your life is a testimony I can share with others if allowed to...and a true story that is inspiring and proof that God gets us from diff backgrounds and gives us gifts to share with the world. It don't matter where you from its always where you're at.

M.Dot. said...

Blogger jpollard said...

First I just want to give you much love and respect for sharing so much of your personal life not only on this post but throughout the many posts since this blog's inception.
=====
Aye Blood. Man. You know I am dumb paranoid, so that ish was hard...honestly, the words came easy, the hard part was pressing publish... Filthy stay on me about that truth...speaking of Filthy...I am looking at being NY bound memorial day weekend...lets get up...k.

M.Dot. said...

the crack era took a few of my family members (including one of my parents) away from me. None of them are dead,
===

You grabbed me, and still haven't let me go with that sentence ock.

M.Dot. said...

Props yo, I know its not easy to put your life out there in lines for us to read. It must have taken a lot out of you but I am all the more thankful considering to me your life is a testimony
=======

You been responding to every post...since I think puddle Friday...and It goes so hard for me...it is nice to see ya sh*t today...even tho I THINK YOU gonna have a major problem with the P*ssy is a commodity sh*t imma write tomorrow ***wink.

The Minority Reporter said...

WoW. Dope!

My friends and I always joke about the Giddy Multitude cause of the way we ALWAYS bring it up in racial/class discussions...but...it's a fact. MLK knew racial justice for Blacks could only come from the interconnections of class and race (no comment on gender). For some reason Jr. Mafia's Eff B*tches...Get Money is going hard in my head...anyways

With the Giddy Multitude the entire system of slavery changed to one based solely on race other than one with indentured servants and poor/ex cons from England. It also changed solidarity based on race higher than any other social class.

Model Minority said...

MLK knew racial justice for Blacks could only come from the interconnections of class and race
=====

That was the move he was making before his death.

Never thought about the gender piece, thank you for bringing it up.

Heavy D! said...

Powerful words, although I would never place Tupac in the same sphere as Gandhi, MLK, or Sojourner Truth.

M.Dot. said...

Anonymous Heavy D! said...

Powerful words, although I would never place Tupac in the same sphere as Gandhi, MLK, or Sojourner Truth.
=========

Been waiting for someone to say something about that.

So you saying Pac wasn't fearless?

AfroChic said...

I think many people come back to MLK's ideas after they move beyond feeling justifiable rage to wanting to channel it productively.Even Malcolm was moving towards an inclusive struggle.--Appreciate your vulnerability. struck a nerve cause my family carries my bros sins & does his time with from the other side of the bars...your blog is intriguing cause it's always addresses issues w/ good balance of personal/emotional/logic/fact and it leaves room for balanced resolutions.

Heavy D! said...

Honestly, there is nothing fearless at all about Tupac. I was never his biggest fan anyway, but even if could be considered fearless, it was nowhere near the level of fearlessness that MLK and others showed. The other people mentioned in your article put their lives on the line daily and deserve our utmost respect and praise. Tupac? Well, not so much.

M.Dot. said...

your blog is intriguing cause it's always addresses issues w/ good balance of personal/emotional/logic/fact and it leaves room for balanced resolutions.
==========

Well thank youuuuuuu.

That would because I am a libra...cheeba cheeba ya'll Imma Libra yall...Super LOL

M.Dot. said...

Delete
Anonymous Heavy D! said...

Honestly, there is nothing fearless at all about Tupac.
=========

Alright Diddley D.


Because you are not a fan you are biased.

I invite you to listen to me against the world.

Pac wfearlessness is worth noting because it is both apparent and documented and also BECAUSE it symbolizes the fearless evident in so many Black men both before during and after his era.

I am not saying that Pac is Sojourner. I am saying that the negro had heart. Courageous heart.
Did he do with it what HE COULD have?

NO. Does that mean he didn't have potential? No.

His shit was crazy misdirected like so many of our brothers/cousins/daddies/uncles.

Is this response helpful?

manaen said...

Your honesty and vulnerability draw in the reader -- your openness invites us to open our hearts and minds to your message. Thank you.
.
Society is composed of people who interact. You've given us an interesting pairing of similar problems -- crack and racism -- in which other peoples' value of selfish pleasures over love for others destroys their healthy interactions with the rest of us.
.
These wrong choices give us a choice in how to respond. The gut response is to return hurt for hurt however the only effective response is to absorb hurt in the hope of opening and healing the hearts at war of the maldoers. This is not fair but it is all that works in the long run. Dr. King lead us to understand and to practice this.
.
"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. ... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -- Dr. M. L. King, Jr.
.
"Evil multiplies by the response it seeks to provoke, and when I return evil for evil, I engender corruption myself. The chain of evil is broken for good when a pure and loving heart absorbs a hurt and forbears to hurt in return. Deep within every child of God the Light of Christ resides, guiding, comforting, purifying the heart that turns to him." -- Dennis Rasmussem, "The Lord's Question"
.
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." -- Dr. M. L. King, Jr.
.
"Movements born in hatred [e.g. revenge] very quickly take on the characterstics of the thing they oppose." -- J. S. Habgood
.
What am I doing?
I enjoy finding ways personally to bridge all gaps -- racial, economic, political. Since my own healing some 15 years ago, I found two truths that give me peace:
* God's superabundant love is available for me as I am, as I work out my faults with His help.
* Having security in this superabundance, I am not (sometimes) caught up in other's potentially hurtful actions. I now realize that I have enough love from God and my job is not to judge, just to help others as I'm able.
.
This means other's threatening actions can be viewed as symptoms of their hearts at war that I can help pacify, not as things that can deprive me of sufficent love. "Love casts out fear." I believe this is what Dr. King tried to teach us – healing offenders is the one effective way to end offences. Forced ends to offences, like incarceration or killing in return, do not heal warring hearts – the offenders’ or the victims’.
.
"One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others." -- David Bednar
.
Sorry for the threadjack -- if you want shorter responses, write less less personal and motivating posts!

Heavy D! said...

Because you are not a fan you are biased.
=====================================

Well, not so fast. I never said I wasn't a fan, I said I'm not his biggest fan. I probably should have used different words, but I consider my self a fan, and only a fan. He is far from my favorite rapper, and even though he's been dead for over a decade, I still don't think that he was the greatest rapper of all time.

Being a fan, I've listened to Me Against the World a few hundred times since it came out back when I was in high school. It's not just a hot record, it's a classic. But when it's all said and done, though, I still don't consider him fearless, not in the least. There's nothing fearless about anything that he said or did. He's only a rapper, and his influence will never be anything like the other people you mentioned.

Model Minority said...

Being a fan, I've listened to Me Against the World a few hundred times since it came out back when I was in high school. It's not just a hot record, it's a classic. But when it's all said and done, though, I still don't consider him fearless, not in the least.
====

You know what blood. then its differnt. If you rocked with him like that, and still came to that conclusion, then we gonna have to ATDA (agreee to ....).

Todo es bueno.

Thank you for the response.

I like when people notice little side hustles in the posts:)

adowell said...

Damn. I've been the same way over the past couple years. I still love Malcolm, but the more I read King's words, the greater he becomes. I can't help but weep when I think of when.

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker