Strip away the pomp and circumstance. Peel back the layers of tradition and forget that today you have a day off. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man, a father, a husband, a son, and a dreamer.
His vision had a far reach and extends to the Dreamers caught up in the never-ending DACA saga by a flip-flopping #45. It extends to all creeds and colors residing in all countries, even ones considered excrement by those on gilded American faux power perches.
More than ever, a life which culminated in the ultimate sacrifice today has its annual rotation around the sun and will be celebrated globally for the selflessness exhibited by its martyr. For me, January 15th has always been poignant as it is also my birthday, and to share it with a man as large as Dr. King is truly an unexpected and unintended honor.
I have always felt the pressure of not only attempting to have the class and eloquence of the late great Dr. King, but also living with the duality of having the name of a fictional antebellum Caucasian character from a book and film so ingrained into the American dynamic as ‘Gone With The Wind.’
This contradiction is truly American. A man from Diasporadic roots, born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx on the same day Martin Luther King was born and named Rhett Butler by a mother who feared he might not be successful unless she cloaked his namesake in whiteness. Coupled with the fact that my mother is more Malcolm X than Martin Luther King and you have a full conflagration of Americana here.
From: King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis parts 7 and 8
Still, I am blessed to have a lived in contradiction and witnessed firsthand Dr. King’s dream realized incrementally. I know that what started as a civil rights movement based on racial equality evolved to also include classism and economic equality. You see, that’s when he had to die as far as the powers that be were concerned. Although King was profiled by nefarious FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover and sabotaged at every turn by his birth country, the race issue was also a convenient distraction for the money and power brokers.
Men like Donald Trump, Sr., who became millionaires by enacting slumlord principles into their real estate holdings and creating the disparities in living conditions we still see to this day. Sins attempted to be whitewashed by their progeny, who with the simple move from from Queens to Manhattan built ornate palaces and skyscrapers to bathe themselves in pride yielded from a foundation of suffering. Men like Trump would rather have you distracted by the divisiveness of race-baiting all the while they are enriching their financial bottom line and making others suffer in the process.
In February, 1968, Harry Belafonte hosted “The Tonight Show” and brought politics and activism into America’s living rooms. In this clip, Martin Luther King Jr. talks to Belafonte about what is needed to achieve true civil rights. Read the full story at TheNation.com/belafontetonight
More than ever, with privilege being emboldened by a man who literally uses white angst as a cloak to strike his dagger at the center of commerce and industry for he and his croniesto sole benefit, we must understand King’s dying wish. Economic equality and an end to imperialism is what he sought at the end after understanding the way his speeches were pawned for public distraction and consumption. It is why the world is forced to only focus on his early speeches and not the latter ones, and why people today must continue to wake up to the realities of the world that has changed only incrementally in part due to King’s influence.
In February, 1968, Harry Belafonte hosted “The Tonight Show” and brought politics and activism into America’s living rooms. In this clip, Robert F. Kennedy diagnoses the hypocrisy of America’s persistent inequality. Read the full story at TheNation.com/belafontetonight
I preach ownership, entrepreneurship, collectivization and community building often and whether it falls on deaf ears or not, I am full. This is how you celebrate the sacrifice of this man and his family daily with commitment to the real work of nation-building, not demagoguery. The world will elevate men into symbols only to water down their message and focus on the immediate benefits before them. Days off from work, day parties and nightclub specials aren’t worth the time if you haven’t earned them throughout the previous year by truly living in your truth through his vision.
Today, as we reflect on the global unrest and poverty still afflicting this world, lets us use King’s legacy as a unifying flag to continue to focus on what really divides us beyond the aesthetics. Take Colin Kaepernick and all who have decided to sacrifice into account this day, and find the strength and the bravery to do as King did, risk it all for the betterment of the world.