"Free to run around all day/Free to do it all my way." - Jason Weaver/Rowan Atkinson/Laura Williams, Just Can't Wait to be King (The Lion King Soundtrack)
had me really thinking about everything I was reading and it's context in the state of things right now.
It started with Negrophile's State of the Dream 2004:
- For every dollar of white per-capita income, African Americans had 55 cents in 1968 – and only 57 cents in 2001. At this pace, it would take Blacks 581 years to get the remaining 43 cents.
- While white homeownership has jumped from 65% to 75% since 1970, Black homeownership has only risen from 42% to 48%. At this rate, it would take 1,664 years to close the homeownership gap – about 55 generations.
- If current rates of incarceration continue, one out of three African American males born today will be imprisoned at some point during their lifetimes.
- At the current pace, Blacks and whites will reach high school graduation parity in 2013, six decades after the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision. And college graduation parity wouldn’t be reached until 2075, more than 200 years after the end of slavery.
Really think about those numbers. As other communities make quantum leaps in their parity with the majority, black folks are still stuck in the tar. Still, essentially playing the role of Br'er Rabbit. Why?
A federal report on racial disparities in health care was revised at the behest of top administration officials -- and a comparison with an earlier draft shows that the version released in December played down the imbalances and was less critical of the lack of equality.
Government officials acknowledged and defended the changes yesterday, even as critics charged that the Department of Health and Human Services rewrote what was to be a scientific road map for change to put a positive spin on a public health crisis: Minorities receive less care, and less high-quality care, than whites, across a broad range of diseases.
So, statistically, we're broke, undereducated, and not getting proper medical care. The dream is alive!
But, you know, our President cares...
President Bush traveled to the South on Thursday to court black voters and to emphasize his conviction -- disputed by Congress -- that the government should devote more federal money to religious groups that deliver social services.
In visits to New Orleans in the morning and Atlanta in the afternoon, Bush portrayed himself as an heir to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., saying that he shared with the slain civil rights leader a belief in the transforming power of faith in American life. That self-depiction, however, was denounced by antiwar protesters in both cities.
Bush is striving during this election year to broaden support for the GOP among African American voters, just 9 percent of whom voted for him in 2000. He spoke at an inner-city black church here, before stopping in Atlanta to place a wreath at the grave of King, who would have turned 75 on Thursday.
He just loves the people. Oh, wait, what's this next paragraph?
Bush also headlined two fundraisers on the trip, generating $1 million at a luncheon here and $1.3 million at an Atlanta reception before returning to Washington.
Oh, and this one...
Sheriee Bowman, a spokeswoman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who attended the ceremony at King's grave, said she questioned the "integrity" and timing of Bush's visit, because of his opposition to affirmative action, which she called part of King's legacy.
Which brings me back to body and soul, who quotes Dr. King...
I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
But, you know, at least the president wants to send us to Mars. Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn't think anything was wrong with that. Space, the final frontier and all. Oh wait, let me, ahhh, yes, Democracy Now! quotes...
King said: "If our nation can spend $35 billion a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam and $20 billion to put a man on the moon it can spend billion of dollars to put God’s children on their two feet right here on earth."
You know, that's really true. But what's even more true is that this has already become a forgotten holiday for a man we presume everyone knows about and why he is important and yet, Bethany Allen remarks...
Now. Sadly, to many of us, Martin Luther King Day has taken its place alongside the parade of holidays that have lost their significance. It's hard to believe how that could have happened, given that MLK Day has only been an official holiday for less than 20 years, but it's true. Some of us don't even get the day off, so it can easily seem like any other day. I thought about skipping writing about it altogether this year, since I think I've already tried the ole man-in-the-mirror/ uplift-the-race guilt trip thing, and complaining about the commercialization of any given holiday is played out, no matter how wack it is that McDonald's could feasibly come out with a McMLKshake on this year's dollar menu. (Imagine Justin Timberlake crooning, "I'm lovin' it," here.)
We don't get the day off, officially, at my place of employ but I told my staff to go ahead and express their appreciation for him by not working for the man (ironically in this case, me) and maybe, just maybe, doing some social service or at least doing some good learning part of the day. I'll be doing the same.
And I'll be remembering the Martin Luther King, Jr. that I think we really need today. The Peace Activist.
It is...unlikely that King, who warned that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," would support the huge price tag of our war with Iraq, especially when Iraq's link to the events of Sept. 11 is nebulous at best, and when there are serious economic concerns at home.
In his time, such positions by King were called "demagogic slander" by Time magazine. The Washington Post editorialized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people." The FBI dubbed him the "most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country."
In light of current events, King would remind us that people everywhere - regardless of religion, nationality, or creed - are united in "a single garment of destiny" and that no nation should act unilaterally. He would assert (and, in turn, garner great criticism) that it is only through treating our enemies as children of God that we will ever create true global security.
And, even in the face of nuclear war, he would hold steadfast to his belief in the power of nonviolence.
More than ever this year, we ought to rediscover the life of Martin Luther King Jr. in its entirety - both the easy and the challenging parts. We may find that, once again, the man has a great deal to teach us.