Monday, January 16, 2006

"The Promised Land" Why We're Still Waiting

Anthony Asadullah Samad in Black Commentator:

"As we approach a significant benchmark in the celebration of the King holiday, its 20th Anniversary, we should pay special attention to what King really stood for and how he's been "commercialized" in his afterlife. Signed into law in November of 1983, the first official "legal" holiday (off day) was Monday, January 20, 1986. King tried to bring America together via the politics of moral suasion - adherence to not only what is right, but what is just, justice being the standard for all that is right (not the other way around). What some think is right isn't always just, but what is just is always right. King understood that - America didn't, and 38 years after his death, 20 years of celebrating the message of America's Prince of Peace, leader of the non-violent social revolution whose life ended so violently, we are still grappling with issues of social injustice and economic inequality. And we're still waiting to get to "the promised land" that King prophesized we would reach without him ("I might not get there with you…"). [...]

By using "King-isms" to deflect the same arguments for racial and social equality King made in his last two books, Why We Can't Wait and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (two books I read during every King week to not get caught up in all the "dream talk"), America was able to stop King's revolution of conscience right in its tracks. They took our focus off achieving equality, or reaching a "promised land," and put it on celebrating a holiday - in rhetorical ways that suggest that they too believe in King's "dream" of a colorblind society. Yet, colorblindness has become a barrier to discussion about what made the King phenomenon: racial inequality and social injustice. The desire to be a "colorblind society" called a halt to the discourse on race in America. Without being able to talk about race, you can’t talk about racial disparities, thus you can’t address racial inequities. But, we all profess to believe in the doctrine of King. Not really." (more)


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