Early morning, April 4; Shot rings out in the Memphis sky – Gary Young MySpace Blog

Early morning, April 4; Shot rings out in the Memphis sky

If you ever want to see someone’s eyes glaze over mid-conversation, talk to them about walking.  10,000+ steps today.  Not bad.  Hey, remember when I said that you need the right shoes (which I still don’t have) and underwear and stuff if you’re going to be purposefully racking up steps?I didn’t realize that you also have to be mindful of those accessories.  It’s all about friction.  I wore holes in the back lining of my Timberland boots.  Doubling up on socks would have been smart.  My jeans are about to wear through where chunky people’s jeans wear out.  And after a torturous amount of awkward, painful chafing I went out and spent a chunk of change on a few pairs of compression shorts.  They are … magical.

This is the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.  John McCain spoke in front of the balcony where King was shot and killed.  I walked to the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial today.  Past the Holocaust Museum.  I think there should be memorials to eras and times of peace and technological or cultural advancement.  In addition to the plethora of war memorials.  But then again … maybe that’s what all of those museums are that line the National Mall and proliferate in DC.  They’re monuments to knowledge, technology, history, art, culture.  Hm.  I see.

So why, nearly 20 years ago, did John McCain vote against the Federal and state holidays for Martin Luther King Jr.?  At one point he said that they didn’t like outsiders coming in to their state telling them what to do or how to do it.  And since no individual has a Federal holiday … I don’t really understand that because I thought there was a George Washington Day and a Lincoln Day but they’ve been combined into President’s Day.  Oh good grief.  I just read that Lincoln Day (he was the founding President of the GOP) is often renamed to or celebrated as Reagan Day in some circles.  But don’t get me started on that.

If you read the comments to any articles about the Martin Luther King holiday you’ll see people say things like:
“King gets a lot more adulation than he deserves.”
“King doesn’t deserve a holiday.”
“The holiday is just pandering to black people.”
“No other individual has a holiday.  Why should he?””What are we going to have next?  A Montezuma Day?”
Paraphrases of what I just read.  I don’t want to be reactionary.  I don’t want my initial twinge of annoyance to turn into anger that dampens my ability to be rational.  Anger is reason’s kryptonite.  I do not want to assume that you have to be racist to deny even one historical, society changing Black man a national holiday.  I don’t want to assume that you have to be racist to speak the quotes above.  Ignorant, maybe, but not racist.NOT JUST A BLACK THING
I say “ignorant” because to assume that what he and the Civil Rights Movement accomplished was only for black people is just … whoa.  And I mean aside from the fact that he worked for economic justice and not just racial justice.  He was saying, “Poor white people it’s time to stand up for yourselves and join hands with us.  We’ve got problems in common.  We’re being trampled on and it’s time to stand up with each other and for each other.”

That’s my interpretation anyway.  But aside from that.  To say that the end of Jim Crow laws and integrated public facilities was “for black people” reveals a belief that the gains of black people, the quest for dignity and equality in society was at the expense of white people.  It reveals a lack of identification with Dr. King’s message, goals, and works.

And that just weirds me out.

I mean, I’m supposed to identify with the founding fathers, right?  Jefferson, Washington and the lot.  Even Columbus and the explorer/invader/slavers.  I, as a black man, am still supposed to acknowledge Columbus Day, for example.  Put away ancestral anger and pride and see the brilliance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America and courage to literally — not metaphorically but literally — sail into the unknown.

And I do.  We do.  It’s dichotomous.  It’s ironic.  But we do it.

And yet when a black man, born and raised in an era of brutal segregation, stands up and speaks for and fights for and dies for not just the concept but the implementation of justice for all, you get some jackasses saying, “He’s not worthy.  He was a philandering trouble maker.”

And then you get politicians who either are racist or pandering to racists.  That’s just not cool.  Okay.  Wait.  I’m sorry.  That was the anger talking.  Not necessarily racist, but maybe in the world in which the politicians live, which is just as segregated as ever (and the holiday was proposed in the mid 1980’s) … why would a holiday for Dr. King be meaningful or important?  When they grew up it was normal to have a water fountain just for your kind.  And the dirty Negros had their fountains, bathrooms and entrances.  When they grew up they’d hang out at or take their dates to the local diner or soda/malt shop that didn’t serve my kind.  To white folk who knew only that, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

You have to be carefully taught.*

You know, I’m beginning to believe that McCain will say anything to become President.  He said the other day that the economy is strong.  The war in Iraq is going well.  Straight talk, my eye.

Here’s one of my favorite songs.  From the musical “South Pacific” in 1949 (I was in the pit band for my high school’s production of the musical).  Please read this wikipedia entry about the song:  Wikipedia entry

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be carefully taught

2:32 PM – 1 Comments – 2 Kudos – Add CommentEditRemove


You know, Gary, this is really resonating with me (especially after the week I had, but I’ll write a separate message to you on that one).

On Friday, I posed the question to my colleagues, “are we any closer to the dream?” I’m not sure if it is because most were white that the responses were a resounding “Yes!” The reasoning behind that affirmative response was enough to make me turn and walk out of the room.

There’s a general naivete that exists in our country. While we are better off than we were in the 60’s, there is still a long way to go toward changing the attitudes that have existed since slave times. In this, the new millenium, it shouldn’t be a big deal that a black man is a strong contender for the office of President of the United States… but it is. It shouldn’t be a big deal when a black woman sets foot on a rocket bound to space… but it is. It shouldn’t be a big deal when a black woman is one of the most powerful media moguls our country has ever seen… but it is. It shouldn’t be a big deal when a black man sets his skates on the ice to play professional hockey…but it is.

In my mind, the fundamental problem is that folks who say they want progress are not ready for what the face of progress looks like. For so long, progress has come in the form of the white man who clawed and climbed his way to the top. Now, black folk, Asian folk, Latin folk… well, the ladder is getting crowded, and that climb is being met with people of different hues, and that frightens those who set the status quo.

Perhaps it’s time to formulate a new picture, one that’s all-inclusive. This whole idea of other races being inferior has got to end. If this country is the ‘great American melting pot’ that Schoolhouse Rock taught those of my generation, then when does everyone get a shot at the dream? I’m not refering to MLK’s dream, but that All-American dream that most white people hold as their ideal, and everyone else is striving toward. Maybe it’s time for us as individuals to come up with our own ideas of what the American dream looks like, rather than trying to fit into an antequated model.

I want to see everyone succeed. I don’t think anyone should be held down or back because their race predicates that. Rather, I think we need to come together to make this country great! We are still dealing with issues of the 60s to a lesser degree. It’s time to get our heads out of our asses, stop talking and start doing.

Are we closer to the dream? Maybe, but I believe there’s still a long way to go…

Posted by Shell on Apr 6, 2008 12:09 PM

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