IF IT WASN’T FOR HIS COMPASSION AND LOVE FOR PEACE, I think it’s fair to say that our society would have been less moral and spiritually sensitive than they were when he was still alive. If it wasn’t for his selflessness; his courage to tell us to look beyond our many indifferences, and, his fearlessness to do the right thing, the change that came in 2008 would probably never have happened. I am aware that it might be a stretch to assume the latter, but I ask; wouldn’t it be a stretch, in the other direction, to not assume so? When we look at the aspirations of Martin Luther King; moral integrity, justice, equality all across the board, and the belief that we should learn to “…accept finite disappointmnet, but never lose hope,” it would be hard to not think that our first black president, Barack Obama, did not benefit from, what I like to call, the trickle-down-homologies of Martin Luther King.
If it wasn’t for his commitments to equality, my family and many other families like mine, would probably not be living amongst white people right now. Although I am not romanticizing nor am I trying to glamorize proximity to white people as something akin to true progression, still, I think that Martin Luther King would agree that we have come a very long way. If it wasn’t for his resolve and staunch determinism for justice, the many times that I’ve spoken truth to power would have been null and void—or would have landed me in jail.
You know what, though, trying to imitate Martin Luther King by speaking truth to power actually did land me in jail. It wasn’t that long ago that I was arrested by two white police officers for simply riding my bicycle at night with no head lights. I was doing a midnight-bike-ride event with a bunch of my white friends, and the police did not harass us until I decided to leave the pack. When I refused to comply with their false arrest and atypical machoisms, they said they would arrest me and confiscate my bicycle. After going back and forth with them for a while, and with my white friends long gone, I finally agreed to their arrest. That night in that cold cell, with one itchy blanket and a brown-colored lightbulb that never went off, was one of the longest nights of my life. When I got out the following day, I felt humiliated, disrespected, and less of a man. I felt like my blackness was exposed only to be viciously trampled upon—and, I also felt like I could never be as equal as the two white men who arrested me that night. Looking back, I wonder; if my skin color had resembled the skin color of my friends that just got swallowed by the darkness of the night, and who were now safely pedaling home with half empty beer cans in the hands and contraband in their tight, jeans pockets, would all of that might have still happened to me?
What does it say about our society, long after Martin Luther King sacrificed himself for us, by preaching justice and encouraging the few of us that are dissatisfied with hate and intolerance, to speak truth to power—-but yet, when we do, we still get arrested for it? Perhaps I should rephrase; has change come, for those who need less of it, but for those like myself and for others who aren’t on top of the racial-foodchain? The emotional answer would be, yes! of course, it has! But, the intellectual response would not say, no nor would it say, yes, but would encourage us to not be satisfied with the battles against indifference that have been won so far—-especially when the war for absolute humility is still raging on.
Happy MLK Day
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” — MLK JR. —-