Since today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I usually take a moment to reflect on his works and how they have benefited me. This time? I’m honestly wondering some things, so maybe you can help me out.
How did Martin Luther King, Jr. become the quintessential idea of “The Good Negro”?
You know what I’m talking about. The black person that keeps quiet with their opinion regarding race and how it affects life. The black person who, in today’s time frame, agrees with the Conservative mindset that racism does not exist (unless otherwise stated by a white counterpart). The black person who sees all protests as riots, and denounces them as such. The black person who believes in being colorblind. These are all traits of being a “good black person” in 2018. Any actions outside of this means said black man/woman is a social deviant. Considering MLK was the exact opposite of these traits, it amazes me how he’s become the champion of The Good Negro Movement.
Let me explain.
Americans have been duped into thinking racism is obsolete. Thus, black people have to be completely satisfied, and largely quiet, in their position. I.E. They have to be a good negro. Those black people who sound the alarm that racial injustice still occurs are a troublesome lot. Some would even venture to say these black people are ungrateful. Being black in America means we should all be eternally thankful slavery ended and we were given the right to use the same water fountain as whites. If a black person raises concern for any issue other than black on black crime, then we can kindly return to Africa. We should be grateful for basic human decency. Some would say I’m being facetious, but these are real conversations.
How does this relate to Dr. King? I’ll tell you.
Whenever a protest occurs, Dr. King’s method of non-violence is the measuring stick. If said protest turns into a riot (i.e. Ferguson and Baltimore), then I guarantee I will hear/read, “MLK would not be pleased with this. These people should be peaceful. That’s how MLK got things done.” These folks completely ignore that Dr. King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Detractors only exacerbate the problem by ignoring this statement and……….. not listening. Thus, it leads me to think they wouldn’t have listened to the cause regardless of the method of protest.
Black Lives Matter protests popped up around the time Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury which is par for the course in black America. Tired of being treated unjustly, people began to march to bring awareness to this racial issue. What did this do? It angered people. How dare black people say that are still treated unjustly! One response, among many, is “Why are they marching in the street? Dr. King would never march in the street holding up traffic. He was considerate.” Really?
Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the National Anthem to bring awareness towards racial injustice with policing, and Americans lost their collective minds. “MLK would have never knelt during the anthem. Disrespecting the flag is not peaceful!” Okay, so quietly kneeling doesn’t work either? So, tell me what Dr. King would have done because I’m confused.
I read all about what Dr. King would do present day from people who don’t have a basic understanding of the times he lived and how it relates to current day racism. Dr. King fought for change and this angered people. They didn’t pat him on the back for calling for civil rights law. He didn’t get a handshake for organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He didn’t get a hug for his I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington. No. He went to jail multiple times. He was followed and harassed by the CIA. He was assassinated for even dreaming African Americans should be treated as equals. This is the Dr. King we should come to know.
Today, I honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by setting his legacy straight. Yes, he preached non-violence. However, the idea that Dr. King was docile in the face of racial disparity is wrong. Dr. King fought injustices the likes many of my generation haven’t seen in real life. So, please, when we mention Dr. King as champion of civil rights remember he was also a social deviant. He was not the idea of the good Negro.
In fact, Dr. King was not your negro. Period.
8 Comments Add yours
This is really interesting. I’ve been wondering this a lot myself. People act like MLK Jr was so well liked and not controversial. When they try to compare the protests of today with the Civil Rights Movement (particularly MLK) I always remind people that in his day he was criticized by other preachers who told him this wasn’t the way or the time. He was being monitored by the CIA. And last, but certainly not least, he didn’t die at the ripe age of 80 in his sleep from natural causes. It’s interesting how people gloss over the facts to create an activist they can get behind. But then again, I suppose we do the same with God…
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It is really amazing. COINTELPRO was no joke. They watched plenty of people, and I believe they declared him to be one of, if not the most dangerous man in America. Correct me if I’m wrong.
People want this rosie view of MLK and fail to acknowledge the hardships.
I believe you’re right about that. It’s crazy how we rewrite history 😏
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Powerfully put, Jarrod. Thank you.
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Thanks Laura! Always good to hear from you!