Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr., like a painter whose work increased in value only after his demise, is now a respected historical figure. While he was alive, however, he was hated and vilified by many, if not most, of the white population of this nation. If he was not hated and vilified he was certainly seen as a “divisive” rabble-rouser figure that was instigating discontent in the nation.
Today, in his death, MLK Jr. is of greater value to the white community than he ever would have been alive. One of the many benefits of power is the ability to filter and define truths to ones benefit. Hence, whites demographic majority rule and their disproportionate economic and political control have allowed king to be redefined as a leader whose goal was a colorblind society, making him anti-Affirmative Action, anti-reparations and anti-color based remedies to Americas colored based oppression of blacks.
The redefining of MLK Jr. is a form of racial jujitsu that has been employed as a self-defense methodology to protect white privilege. For those who don’t know, jujitsu is a method developed in Japan of defending oneself by using the strength and weight of an adversary to disable him. White conservatives have thus taken the strength and weight of the civil rights movement, by parsing quotes, to protect the gains accrued from years of racial favoritism for whites.
Essentially, conservative whites and others have taken the mantra of the civil rights movement, the call for a colorblind society, and now use it to preserve white privilege. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. These are the most widely quoted words of MLK by white America. After uttering millions of words, Kings legacy and purpose has been encapsulated in that single quote and used by white America to promote the legacy effect of white privilege and advantage.
Of course, the idea or concept of the metaphoric “color-blind” society is noble, providing that one does not put the buggy before the horse. A society first must promote racial justice and reconciliation before one can promote a racially color-blind society. Since color consciousness has been used to create and accrue white privilege for centuries, going color-blinded, before racial reconciliation, is, I am afraid, simply a strategy to protect the benefits accrued to whites from years of white preferential treatment.
The quest for a color-blind society is rather akin to a request for a “cheating-free” society, by the historical beneficiaries of cheating. In order to maintain the proceeds from cheating, the historical beneficiary of cheating need only object to cheating henceforth by all parties. Thus, those historically cheated will not be allowed to cheat and eat away at the benefits accrued to the historical beneficiaries of cheating. Moreover, with no compensatory redistribution of cheated wealth, the cheated are left at a competitive disadvantage in a system predicated upon competition.
It is argued that two wrongs do not make a right. That maybe true in some respects but it’s not the rule of America. When we attacked Afghanistan after our nation was attacked on 911, did most white Americans see that as an example of two wrongs making a right? Yes! If violence is a wrong then the use of violence in response to violence is also wrong. What about the wrong of kidnapping people and holding them against their will? We can agree that such is a wrong, but when people commit crimes society captures them and holds them against their will and calls it “justice”. Yet, when the issue is race, two wrongs do not make right or justice in the eyes of whites.
The reason that there can be no real racial justice in America is simple. White America serves as the defendant, lawyer, judge, arbitrator and jury for claims against America by virtue of their power and control over America. Whites will hence not self incriminate or convict America of any crimes because its essentially a sentence that whites will have to serve. They will not hold America responsible or accountable for any of its wrongs because it’s a price that they would have to pay, which is only fair because they were the primary beneficiaries of America’s wrongs. This has been a nation of the white people, for the white people run by white peoples and hence the nation cannot be convicted without convicting whites.
If MLK were alive today he would not be as popular and accepted as in his death. Of course this is arguable, but the best indication of how he would be treated today is from how his contemporaries in the civil rights struggle are viewed today. There is not likely one black civil rights leader from his era who has not been gunned down or disrespected by white America today. Therefore, most intelligent people know that in all probability MLK would be just as despised today as Jesse Jackson is by most white Americans.
In conclusion, I would like to leave the reader with some quotes from MLK that get ignored in the white conservatives zeal to promote King as being anti Affirmative Action.
"It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."
"The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt."
“Whenever this issue is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree, but should ask for nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but is not realistic. For it is obvious that if a man enters the starting line of a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some incredible feat in order to catch up”.
“For two centuries the Negro was enslaved and robbed of any wages: potential accrued wealth, which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America's wealth could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation”.