In which I gently suggest something to white people

Take a look at these two pictures.

JESSE JACKSON EATONVILLE al-sharptonWhat do you think of these two guys?  Go ahead, jot down a few thoughts.


I hate to break it to you, but you just told yourself more or less exactly what you’d think of Martin Luther King Jr. if he were still alive, or (having just had his 86th birthday, after all) if he’d been allowed to live a normal human lifespan and was no longer with us.

Yes.  Really.

No, he wasn’t different.  Look at the things white people were saying about Martin Luther King Jr. when he was alive.  People say the exact same things about Jackson and Sharpton.  Word for goddamn word.

Publicity hound?  Outside agitator?  Stuck his nose in where it didn’t belong?  Communist?  White people said all that shit about King, and white people say all that shit about Jackson and Sharpton now.  (Okay, Al Sharpton to my knowledge has never been accused of Communism.  But Jackson has.)  Do you happen to know what King was doing in Memphis when he was killed?  Supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.  Hardly a national issue, right?  He’s just preening for the cameras.  Just likes the attention.

Same.  Exact.  Shit.

Oh, but <insert ethics thing here>?

King was a notorious womanizer who plagiarized much of his doctoral dissertation.  These assertions are facts; they aren’t even controversial.  Had he not been assassinated, there’s every chance that Coretta would have divorced him eventually.  And he’d have had an extra forty-some-odd years for either the press to dig up more dirt or to make more mistakes in his life, depending on how charitable you feel like being about it.

This is not to denigrate King’s legacy.  That is unassailable– and, in fact, part of the reason King’s legacy is unassailable is precisely because he was killed.  I am trying to point something out that should be obvious: Martin Luther King, Jr. was. a. PERSON.

He was not Jesus.

Hell, Jesus wasn’t even Jesus, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

He was a man, and white people hated him.  Murdered him, in fact.

You are not different by virtue of the fact that you’re alive nearly fifty years after he was shot.  If anything, King was more of a leftist than Jackson and Sharpton are now, and given where his rhetoric and politics were going at the time he was killed, maybe I should have included a third picture up there:


(Went ahead and gave y’all a caption, because I know you don’t know what Jeremiah Wright looks like.)

I’m not sure what in particular got on my last nerve about this year’s MLK Day, but… damn.  Learn something, y’all.  Read some of what this dude had to say– and not just the I Have a Dream speech.  Look at what he had to say about Vietnam; muse on the fact that he was calling America “a sick society” as early as 1963 if not before that.  King was alive in the sixties, and most white people hated him.  If King was still alive in the 2010s, most white people would still hate him.  I hate to break it to y’all, but it’s true.

This is Martin Luther King Jr, white people:

An extended quote:

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church. This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

What do you think this guy would have had to say about the Middle East?  About, really, any aspect of current American foreign policy?  In a country where people think Barack Obama is a socialist?

There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, “Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.”

Go ahead.  Replace “Vietnamese” with “Muslim.”  And think about how white America would be treating this man if he were still alive.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

14 thoughts on “In which I gently suggest something to white people

  1. yay, Luther. “Jesus wasn’t even Jesus” OMG! You are right about this but I am pretty sure someone will not like it.

    Also, he was killed in Memphis EXACTLY one year after he preached that sermon at Riverside Church. That is why I posted his birth and death dates in the headline, and linked to the speech in my own post. So people who are paying attention might notice he was killed exactly one year later.

    He connected the poverty and the race to the war culture in that speech. It is one of the best pieces of rhetoric ever delivered in American English. Inspired. And a very dangerous thing to be doing for a black preacher from Atlanta in 1967. That speech is what got him killed, and I do not just think that because the X-Files told me so.

    He’s serious about not being able to tell the ghetto to lay down its arms until he speaks to the government about that shit. And that is why he deserves to have his birthday celebrated.Though personally, I would prefer commemorate the assassination in April. That would do us a lot more good.

    He was a human fucking being. And yes. White people hated him. Still would. (Dare I say, many still do?)

    He could have just done the Civil Rights thing, and probably even with all the conflict involved in that, have lived a long life. He chose to mess with the government instead, and just how much courage does it take for a flawed human being who is subject to all the fear and insecurity that comes along with being human to do something like this?

    A LOT, is how much.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Please do! It’s so very very very very very true, and excellent (and I am probably too mild-mannered and conflict-avoidant to do so on my own page) so I want someone to get that ball rolling 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Luther is good at getting balls rolling, if I may talk about him on his own blog. And I was so happy when I got that comment like and saw that you were the blogger who found it!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. An excellent post. Stuff I didn’t know, and the Vietnam speech is great. In the last 15 years America has had so many opportunities to take the moral high ground and thrown every one away (with the UK trailing in its wake like a toddler).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In which I gently suggest not all white people watch Fox News 😉 Sorry, first thing I thought of when I read this last night and just had to come back to say it. If I wanted to be more serious I’d say something similar to Gene’O, though maybe not quite as informed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This. Yes. Gosh.

    There’s a HUGE tendency to de-contextualize quotes, and quotes by King have been some of the most de-contextualized that I’ve ever seen. It’s an attempt to sanitize everything, to cherry pick the parts that fit best with the larger narrative and smooth over those that don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Way to hold up a mirror to our Western culture. I’m sure this will piss a lot of people off. We tend to like to live in a state of willful denial about our history. I’ve been wanting to write a post called “The U.S. Is NOT the Best Country In the World.” Ever since watching “12 Years A Slave” I have been itching to write it. (Not that I didn’t know our history in regards to slavery, but that movie portrayed in such a raw and horrific way.) We couldn’t even finish watching it. And I was disgusted with myself for not finishing it. Anyways, I’m glad you’re willing to say the non-politically correct stuff, as I’m a tad bit chicken shit myself.


  6. “Alive 60 years after he was shot” though. Dude, I remember it and I’m not THAT old.

    I grew up in Detroit during the riots. I’m appalled we haven’t come any further from racism as a society.


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