Over the last three years (and the hundreds prior) we’ve witnessed crime after crime of police brutality and ending in loss of life without repercussion for those who chose to take liberties.
We’ve witnessed shootings, trials, protests, riots, and more.
It’s almost too much to bear. It is too much to bear.
I think that must have been the thought going through San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s mind when he refused to stand for the national anthem. He just didn’t have the strength to bear the devastation anymore and couldn’t pull himself to his feet and sing about our land of the free when he knew “free” is what we are not.
Then came the inevitable circus of outcries, backlash, and accusations about why this was so wrong. It’s unpatriotic, it’s treasonous, the national anthem has nothing to do with what’s wrong in this country. And then I heard it:
“I think Dr. King, if he were alive today, he wouldn’t disrespect the flag or the anthem, he would use his words and his voice to send a message for positive change,” said Kimberly Guilfoyle of FOX’s Five Today.
It seems that almost every time there is any form of protest on racial equality, specifically pertaining to African-American injustices, the memory of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is invoked.
This isn’t how Dr King would have done it…this isn’t how he would have wanted it…Dr King preached peacefulness throughout, he would not agree with this…
Well I guess we will never know will we? Why?
First, because he’s dead. Because a white man with brown hair and blue eyes, just like mine, couldn’t understand that uplifting those that are oppressed doesn’t mean you are lowering yourself. Because in the mind of Mr. James Earl Ray, if we are all equal then how will we know who’s better? A valid question, except that it’s not. Just like the point people keep trying to make by saying what Dr. King, Jr. would or would not have wanted.
Secondly, the only thing we can say for sure, is that the late great Dr. King, Jr. believed in peaceful protests and that problems could be eradicated through non-violence. So if someone could explain how the act of sitting down and shutting up is the antithesis of this, feel free to provide enlightenment.
And lastly, Colin Kaepernick is not and will not ever be Dr. King, Jr., to attempt to put him on the same pedestal would probably be an insult to MLK, Jr. More importantly, Mr Kaepernick has never claimed to be his reincarnation. Why would he? Why would he or any other person, black or white or any other color, dismiss their own value of person, mind and voice by trying to be someone else? To do so is, again, an insult to both parties.
This white privileged consensus of, “If you are black and want to protest then you must do so in a way that emulates Dr. King.” is detrimental to the movement of progress and unity. While Dr King was in fact a great and prophetic leader, one who brought about so much change in a time desperately needing it, he was not the only one.
- W.E.B. Du Bois
- Malcolm X
- Huey Newton
- Rosa Parks
- Edgar Nixon
- Ida B Wells
- Willa Brown
And each with their own attitudes and practices toward bringing about change. In fact, when Nina Simone met Dr. King, Jr. for the first time she was already politically charged and involved with the Black Panthers. She walked up and introduced herself and said, “I’m NOT nonviolent.” MLK, Jr. looked at her and said, “That’s alright, sister. You don’t have to be.”
The truth is we can’t do it just one way. Dr. King, Jr. understood this. It’s the uniqueness in each of us on the individual level that when combined brings about the greater value and progress. Just like we each have different physical features genetically handed down to us, we each have tools and gifts within us that only we know how to operate. It is up to us to use our inherent gifts and bestow them on the world. Be it through artwork, protests, organization, music, or by bringing awareness simply by being silent.
Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” However, it is up to each of us to contribute our part in whatever way speaks to us for the greater good. But no matter your part, age, gift or talents, remember the words of our Dr. King, Jr. that no matter what, “The time is always right to do what is right.”