Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just a dream?





I have been thinking about this post for awhile now. Unfortunately, knowing how sensitive some of you folks can get, I held back. But since tomorrow is the day we choose to recognize Dr. King's birthday, I think it is a good time to share it with you.



It has to do with Dr. King's speech. In that famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial on a hot day in August, he spoke of "having a dream." In his dream King envisioned a lot of great things happening in A-merry-ca when it comes to race relations and racial harmony. He dreamt of a country where "little black boys and little black girls could join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers..." He dreamt of a country where his four children would be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (White conservatives love that one, and they use it every chance they get. "Why should we give you affirmative action just because you are black? Shouldn't you be judged by the content of your character and not the color of your skin?")


In my humble opinion the brilliance of King's speech was that he never really expected his dream to be realized. He understood how truly fucked up the human condition was, and what he was dealing with in A-merry-ca. -"So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition."- All he could do was make A-merry-cans confront their unjust reality and at least try to implement laws to make things better. But King never really thought all the things he talked about in his speech would ever come to fruition. I mean let's face it, it was a dream. And the last time I checked, the odds of a dream becoming reality are very slim. Hell, if that wasn't the case, Lark Voorhies would have moved to Philly a long time ago.


If King really thought that the things he spoke about could become reality, he would have written his speech in a different way. He would have said something like; "one day in the not too distant future, my four little children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character". He would not have prefaced the words "one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.' with that now now famous phrase, "I have a dream". By saying it was a dream he was telling us that the possibility of all of this happening was more remote. "The state of Mississippi transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice"? I don't think so.


No one could argue that given the climate of the country at the time of his speech (1963) all he could have done was dream. No one could have envisioned how far we would have come in A-merry-ca. And this is where the cynical field Negro comes in. I don't think we have come that far in A-merry-ca at all. I think in terms of attitudes we might as well be in a time capsule which reads August 28, 1963. Sure laws have changed, but little else has. People are just more sophisticated about how they hide their ignorance now.

And don't even get me started about us black folks. I think if King were around today, seeing how we have self destructed as a race would be his biggest disappointment. He would know that white folks don't give a damn about us. But he would have expected that much. He was a preacher, I am sure he was quite aware of all the shortcomings that come with the human condition. But he would have been taken by surprise with all the shit he saw with us black folks. I am sure of it.

So I will be at an MLK breakfast tomorrow morning, and I will be volunteering my time to do some cleaning up at a local high school. I will be doing these things because I understand the significance of the King holiday and what it is suppose to represent. But sorry, I am not as optimistic about the future of race relations in this country. King's speech and the words in it were nice. But remember, he was dreaming.

43 comments:

thinkaboutit said...

Hello Field,
I second the stance you have taken with King's Dream. I think he would be appalled at black folks in this new century. I think he would also be angry still at the country at large for their refusal to move past so much of the bs that blacks confront on a continued basis. Hell I wish people would read the entire I Have A Dream speech. I also wish they would stop putting king in a 1963 time capsule and refusing to acknowledge how different he had became by 1968. I know I can sound cynical if you read my posts, but most of it derives from the fact that simplicity will not do in this time of crisis confronting my people. So, Field I find your approach refreshing in the midst of so much romance about the black condition here in America.

Miss Profe said...

My borther said recently that the thing about Dr. King is that he easily could have lived a charmed existence. He was well-educated, came from a comfortable middle class background, and could have settled into life as a Baptist minister in Atlanta. But, he lead a movement which created lasting change in American society. Yes, he had lots of help, but, he lead the movement. Mad props to him. And to you, Field.

Bob said...

Dr. King wasn't murdered until he began bringing together a coalition based on shared economic goals - recognizing class struggle. Since that's the key to undermining racism at the roots, it made him truly dangerous person in the long term, because he would've carried on that fight for years as a man who could go anywhere in the world & be accorded more honor & respect than any American president.

before the mayflower said...

Field, your blog post's hidden agenda to get us to read the "I Have A Dream" worked.

I have read in recently, and at your indirect urging, I have read it again.

Let me rebut your thesis

("In my humble opinion the brilliance of King's speech was that he never really expected his dream to be realized.")

this way:

When he wrote the I Have A Dream speech in 1963, he might have seen it as a "dream deferred," a dream that white America was not willing to embrace.

However in 1968, in his "Mountain Top" speech, he speaks of a God-inspired vision of America's future, clearly denoting a change in white attitude toward blacks (or, as he would say, an equal dispensing of justice and righteousness), and an eventual realization of The Dream.

I have included an excerpt of that portion of the speech:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

I agree that he would still be disappointed in whites and blacks for deferring the dream, for resting on our laurels, and allowing the civil rights efforts of the past to dry up like "raisins in the sun."

With affirmative action came some gains, and with those gains came a greater complacency.

But let me assure you, despite the complacency, a new day is just beyond the horizon.

We can see a glimmer of that in Obama's run for the presidency. That he's doing as well as he is would have been the stuff of dreams not too many years ago.

Field, continue the good fight. We're closer to King's dream than you know.

Dreams have become reality, and reality has become dreams.

On the ocean, it's hard at times to tell where the sky ends and the ocean begins.

So it is with dreams.

Luv said...

I'm stunned that people still use such gross generalities as "us" and "white folks". Trying to assign good and evil to race is exactly the kind of nonsense Dr. King was against.

Not all "white folks" are racist elitist out to destroy "us".

Not all of "us" are righteous fighters for justice. And not all of "us" are ignorant, self-destructive minstrels that abhorrent examples of our worst tendencies.

gwpriester said...

Nice observations Field. King, and the Kennedy's are gone, but the dream will never die.

Villager said...

Happy MLK Day Field. I agree with your assessment of the speech. I posted it today in full. It was a dream ... but, we operate best when we have a dream, target, goal or destination to move towards. Race relations should move towards its dream ... one person at a time.

Anyhow, I encourage you and others in the Field to read A Letter to MLK posted today by Mes Deux Cents. One of the most powerful posts that I've read in a long time.

peace, Villager

Christopher said...

To me, Dr. King's "I Had a Dream Speech" is a thing of beauty. It's brilliant meditation on the question posed in DuBois' "In The Souls of Black Folk,", where he asks whether it is "possible to be both a Negro and an American."

I think for all of Dr. King's powerful words, for all of his spiraling rhetoric, even he wasn't sure.

Perhaps, Dr. King, a veteran of the civil rights movement, understood that to be a "black American" exposes and lays bare the essential conflict between the category "American" to the racial category "black."

That the "isms" we've grown up with: racism, sexism, ageism, and classism, remain subjects to be avoided because for the most part, we have failed to erase them from our society. I agree Field, Dr. King would not be pleased. I think Dr. King, would even weep.

justice58 said...

Field

Happy MLK Day!

Keep up the good work in the fields!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

King gave his "Mountain Top" speech the day before he was assassinated. It was his last speech.

I agree with Field, King would be disappointed by what is going on in America now.

Anonymous said...

If Dr.King and Malcolm X and all the others who died who died for the cause would be both underwhelmned and overwhelmed at the same time. What a fucking mockery this generation has become. To be honest I can't fully grasp it. I'm a first generation American, my family's from the West Indies and I don't feel this burden that Black people seem have in this country. I never felt that there nothing I couldn't do because of my color or my circumstance. Maybe because I had a good role model, (after my Dad left to freedom fight or whatever it was he did-I haven't asked yet) she did what she had to do to maintain and better herself. So for people who were born here to just to squander what people from other countries will die for is just insane to me. I don't mean to sound as if I am seperating myself because I'm not. I just don't get it. Shit, I grew up in the South Bronx I saw all the craziness. I know what's out there. I know what I left. When I go home I see the insanity and what scraps people have settled for I just don't get it. I am both underwhelmed and overwhelmned at the same time. How do fix this? Okay I'm done with my rambling.

TLW said...

I'm sorry but I just don't feel all of the nostalgia for King like the rest of you do and your post has just solidified my position. Give me Malcolm X any day of the week. Why people are so quick to embrace King and his "dream" and not Malcolm X just boggles my mind. While King and his ilk were dreaming about one day White people liking us, Malcolm was fighting for Black empowerment first and foremost which is something that appears to be lost on Black people today in our quest to get Whites to like and respect us and integrate into their system. It just frustrates the hell out of me.

field negro said...

before the mayflower, you make some good points as usual, and your observation about my reason for posting was also spot on.

But I do somewhat disagree with you about King's optimism. I think his 1968 "Mountain Top speech:

"And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you..."

The fact that he said "I may not get there with you" is telling. Yes he saw the promised land, but that was a religious reference to the after life (IMHO) not a realistic view of what he thought A-merry-ca was or was at the time, or going to be in the future.

But I feel where you are coming from. In a way, that was part of the brilliance of King's sppech. The well meaning folks can have different interpretions and still be inspired by it.

Villager, I am going to check out that link to Mes Deaux Cents, she is a great blogger so I am sure I am in for a treat.

Happy MLK day justice58!

Of course King would be disappointed with us. I went to a fancy breakfast this morning and you should have seen all the black folks int heir suits and Sunday finests. And then I went to a school to do some volunteer work, real pull your shirt sleeve up manual labor shit, and I swear there were more white folks there than black folks. Now that's a shame.

"King, and the Kennedy's are gone, but the dream will never die."

I know gwpriester, but that's the problem, all we ever seem to do is dream.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Field.
I'm 8:15 pm., the Noose cover writer. I see it.

Brother Al is in Jena, LA "protesting a protest march" being assembled by some white supremist group (today, 1/21/08). Sharpton doesn't miss an opportunity for a photo op.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i second a lot of what you said. Radical dreams are necessary so that we can walk towards them...but we must always remember the limitations of the vehicles we take on the path. America is one such vehicle...it's never going to lead to where it's professed ideals claim it is headed...and it is important to recognize this. But this doesn't mean we should give up dreaming. I think we need to extricate dreams/ideals/vision from the particular things that will claim to attain them.

To me it's like an emotionally unavailable partner claiming to love you. You shouldn't give up on the possibility of receiving/deserving love...but despite your partner's claims to give it to you, you should figure out sooner or later that they aren't going to be the one to provide it.

My friend recently sent me an article he wrote on Obama and the crisis of the white intellectual...

and he posits, in part, that obama is like another drug/fix for the white intellectual who desperately wants to hold onto their illusion that america will make good on its promises...

here's the article -
http://www.counterpunch.org/walker01122008.html

again...i think the key is to dream, but be able to distinguish dreams from reality as we navigate always TOWARDS that horizon of liberation (though never mistakenly claiming to have arrived)...

just some thoughts...

-Elizabeth

MacDaddy said...

field, I agree that even a person as optimistic as King would be devastated if he came back and saw how we're killing each other and not doing very well in continuing the struggle that he wrought. But I disagree about the so-called "dream" speech. First of all, the main intention wasn't to focus on dreams but to communicate the feelings of millions of black people locke up in an apartheid-like situation in the South. His analogy was, I believe, about the bank of justice returning to black people a check entitled "insufficient funds." The dream stuff was focused on by the white press because they didn't want to deal with the first part of the speech that spoke to our oppression.

The idea of the dream was there for two reasons: To motivate people to continue to march and fight for justice and to hold a mirror to America's head, saying this is what a justice nation would look like, a just people would look like. Every struggle needs a vision.

I was no great fan of Dr. King, even though I grew up in Atlanta during the height of the civil rights movement. I grew up Muslim. But I remember living segregation. I remember black men coming back to my communty with shoulders hunkered down and their eyes mistry from yet another humiliating interaction with bigoted white people. Now, in Atlanta, a lot of blacks run businesses, banks, insurance companies. We've had black sheriffs and black mayors. And the weren't uncle toms either. We have better colleges (Morehouse, Spellman, examples) that are better than many of the white colleges.

When people say nothing has changed, I think they're looking at things outside the context of apartheid; and many of us don't even realize that that's what we had in the US.

The other problem is the dream speech. It wasn't his best speech. His best speech was called "Beyond Vietnam," done on April 4, 1967f at The Riverside Baptist Church. In the is speech, he gave a comprehensive anti-war speech, a scathing indictment of our invasion and occupation of Vietnam. This is also the speech where he was the first well known American to make the insightful connection betwee bloody war at home and crushing poverty at home and called for the restructuring of American society and the moral regeneration of the American people. The reason we don't hear about this speech because white corporate America doesn't want us to. Better to encapsulate Dr. King in time with him talking about dreams than talk about what a bloody and morally bankrupt country we have become.

Sorry for the long post.

Lola Gets said...

One interesting thing is that we are always reminded of the "I Have a Dream" speech and the "March on Washington", but are never reminded of just exactly who it was who was behind that march in the first place: Bayard Rustin, an unapologetic gay man (who also became a communist). Rustins role in the civil rights movement in America has been marginalized due to his sexual orientation, which is a damned shame, because his contributions were significant. I just might write a post about him one day!

L

Anonymous said...

yeheessss to macdaddy and lola.

i agree - king's best speech is beyond vietnam...but white america has to appropriate and rewrite the legacy of historical figures...that's why we have this false dichotomy between king the "reformist" and x the "revolutionary." ain't nothing reformist about that speech...

"Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am 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...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, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

(quick link to the full speech and audio:

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm)

also - james cone's book Malcolm and Martin debunks a lot of these mischaracterizations and reductions of both men's legacies...

he says:

"The most common misperception about Martin King is that he was nonviolent in the sense of being passive. That is incorrect and he would have rejected it absolutely. In fact, Martin King would say that if nonviolence means being passive, he would rather advocate violence. Nonviolence for him meant direct action, not passivity in the face of violence, so the world would understand how brutal the system is upon those who are poor and weak.

The most common misunderstanding of Malcolm X is that he advocated violence. Malcolm did not advocate violence but rather self-defense. He did not believe that oppressed people could gain their dignity as human beings by being passive in the face of violence. There was some tension between Malcolm and Martin largely because they tended to accept these perceptions of [each other]. But what is revealing is that Martin King came to realize that Malcolm did not really advocate violence in the same way as, [for example,] the Ku Klux Klan did. Even though he could not go along with self-defense as a form of social change, Martin King did advocate self-defense in terms of individuals who protect their home, their children, and their loved ones [from] people who would hurt them. Malcolm X came to see that Martin King’s idea of nonviolence was not passive. Actually, he wanted to join up with the civil rights movement and Martin King largely because [he saw] that nonviolent activists actually created more fear and more change than some of [the] people within the Muslim movement. So he came to see Martin King in a much more positive light than is generally understood."

...On Rustin - there's a great film that came out in the last couple years called Brother Outsider...i think it was actually developed by PBS but check it out...

-Elizabeth

Mac Walton said...

For anyone interested, here's an excerpt from the speech and where you can go to read the entire speech:

"Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor."

-excerpt from "Beyond Vietnam,"
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Delivered April 4, 1967 at The Riverside Baptist Church, New York City, New York.


http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mlkspeeches.html

MacDaddy said...

"Bayard Rustin, an unapologetic gay man (who also became a communist). Rustins role in the civil rights movement in America has been marginalized due to his sexual orientation, which is a damned shame, because his contributions were significant."
-Lola gets
----------
Bayard Rustin was a top advisor to King during the Montgomery bus boycott and the chief organizer of the March on Washington. The FBI knew he was valuable and tried to blackmail King and SCLC, Dr. King's organization, by revealing that Rustin was gay, something people in the movement knew anyway. Eventually, Rustin left so as not to cause any damage to the movement. But it says a lot about the homophobia of the black ministers of SCLC at that time that they would kick to the curb such a great asset to Dr. King and the movement. And they're still stupid on this issue today.

Dragon Horse said...

new Obama add:

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/
2008/01/21/obamas-national-ad/

This is nationwide.

Sounds like he is dreamin' like King.

janine said...

Macdaddy, macdaddy, macdaddy -- thank you. On point, on point. I can be as cynical as the next person (trust me) but it grows wearying after awhile, and it doesn't get us very far. All I have to do is ask my mother, who grew up in Mississippi to know the truth and to know how powerful that truth is: things have changed AND radical change, radical restructure of American society is still needed. To deny one can immobilize us, leave us stewing in our bitterness. To deny the other is simply wrong.

kellybelle said...

Interesting post. I think King's dreaming is like the difference between a glass ceiling (you can see the promised land,you just have trouble getting there) and a concrete ceiling (you can't see it and you couldn't get through the obstacles if you could). I think King thought it might happen. But I agree with you, his greatest disappointment would be what we as Black people have done to ourselves.
(ok, this is petty, but hilarious, watch Bill Clinton try not to fall asleep at an MLK day function: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2008/01/clinton_gets_sleepy_at_mlk_day.php)Guess Civil Rights isn't all that scintillating.

Hathor said...

In the early sixties people were a lot more optimistic than now. This was three months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Great strides were made, by boycotts, marches and negotiations. I do not think many younger people now understand the effort and loss put in the civil rights movement and some don't think what was gained was significant. There was hope, even among white people that America could be different. Unfortunately that all died three assassinations later and at the 1968 Democratic convention with the white protesters beaten and in 1964 the wrong Mississippi delegation seated. Many pushed on and since there was no coherent message, the malaise over came our people. For some Malcolm X message got lost in Islam, the Panthers brought the guns and some thought them hoodlums, the young preachers of the SCLC, began a revolutionary theology. The older organizers didn't fit in. I felt it was a mess. The programs that were suppose to help the poor, the black "pimps" ran and hardly any thing trickle down for housing and business. They were not welfare programs, that got more screw up with Nixon in his revenue sharing plan. That put great stress on the welfare system and thats when only women with children became the only ones eligible.

I've sort have gone off on a tangent. 40 some years later, I can see where the idea of the dream becoming the reality is hard to imagine, but in 1963 everyone had more hope. We were in space and would be on the moon. That is as much of jump as the end of racism.

before the mayflower said...

Thanks for your comments, Field, but one last attempt here.

"And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land." King

His vision, I maintain, was concrete and not idealistic, nor did it point to a "slave's freedom."

King's reference was to Moses leading his people out of Egypt (slavery). Moses, like King, did not see the "promised land."

It's my belief that his speech foreshadowed his death. He knew he would die soon, and was resolved to that fate.

"I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man." King

Just as the "promised land" was not a figment of Moses' imagination or a vision of an afterlife, I strongly believe that King was given a glimpse of this country's eventual transformation, a country where "justice and freedom" existed for all, not a privileged few.

I know that that sounds like a pipe dream, but I'll reiterate:

On the ocean, it's hard at times to tell where the sky ends and the ocean begins.

So it is with dreams.


Todays' dreams are tomorrow's realities. Without them, all we'll eat tomorrow is what we ate yesterday: if that was misery, then we will dine on misery today.

field negro said...

"His analogy was, I believe, about the bank of justice returning to black people a check entitled "insufficient funds." The dream stuff was focused on by the white press because they didn't want to deal with the first part of the speech that spoke to our oppression."

Wow! That is on point; and I must confess that I never really thought seriously about that angle.

And don't be sorry for the length of that comment, it wasn't long enough.

Lola, thanks for the history lesson on Rustin.

Elizabeth, thanks for the quotes. And you are right about Malcolm and Martin and the way that they eventually came to view each other.

before the mayflower, your one last attempt was a damn good one. I think you might have a convert:)

"Todays' dreams are tomorrow's realities. Without them, all we'll eat tomorrow is what we ate yesterday: if that was misery, then we will dine on misery today."

That line might have been the deal breaker.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. Bill Clinton falls asleep at MLK celebration

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2008/01/clinton_gets_sleepy_at_mlk_day.php

CLINTON SAYS WE HAVE THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT BECAUSE LYNDON JOHNSON SIGNED IT.

GOLDWATER RAN A CAMPAIGN AGAINST JOHNSON...
SO WHY WAS SHE CAMPAIGNING FOR BARRY GOLDWATER WHO WAS AGAINST THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT???

BY THE WAY CHECK OUT BILL CLINTON'S RACIST POSTCARD HE SENT TO HIS GRANDMA IN 1966 DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

http://serr8d.blogspot.com/2007/10/bill-clinton-racist-postcard-buy-it-now.html

Julie said...

I think these words from MLK are worthy of more attention:

"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."

--Strength to Love 1963

"God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

But God has a way of even putting nations in their place. The God that I worship has a way of saying, "Don't play with me." He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, "Don’t play with me, Israel. Don't play with me, Babylon. Be still and know that I'm God. And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power." And that can happen to America."

--Drum Major Instinct address, 1968

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Field, you recognize Dr. King as the ultimate Field Negro.

No more explanation required. At this point, if we don't dream, we're already dead...

TLW said...

I want to know how integration helped the movement. No oppressed people in history that I can think of have ever tried to integrate with their oppressor, so tell me how King and his movement helped anything.

Hathor said...

tlw,
It bought about laws that allowed blacks to exercise their rights as citizens. One must be ever vigilant to retain them. To go to school, live where you want, sit where you want and eat at any public establishment isn't really integration.

TLW said...

Thanks for responding Hathor. There are some things that I still have problems with concerning the methods and the goals of the Civil Rights Movement but I don't want to appear as if I am trying to start trouble here so I guess I will drop it for now.

before the mayflower said...

TLW said...
"I want to know how integration helped the movement. No oppressed people in history that I can think of have ever tried to integrate with their oppressor, so tell me how King and his movement helped anything."

I really would like to respond to your question, but to do so adequately, I would have to be sitting across from you, asking you questions, and allowing you to ask me questions.

This limited forum does not give us that opportunity.

I'd ask you, for example, what do you mean when you say, "helped the movement."

Do you mean acquire liberation and justice in this society?

Do you mean acquire social and economic parity with whites?

Do you mean create a nation state within the U.S.?

Do you mean leave this country behind and return to Africa?

Do you mean remain separate and apart from whites, yet live in their midst?

It's true, whites were our oppressors, and we can still see vestiges of it in this country.

You're well acquainted with them, so I won't enumerate them here.

In all honesty, I don't think we're going to return to Africa (We're too socialized as Americans/Westerners to do that.).

It would take us years, in certain African countries, to fit in in a way that we could call them home.

It's just a naked reality of our situation.

And I don't think Africans would be happy with us returning en masse. But that's just my take on it.

We could stay separate and apart, as some Native Americans do, but even they can't fully operate with total autonomy.

We could achieve social and economic parity with whites, but that, too, would require a great deal of mutual cooperation even if we were able to create a black economy separate and apart from theirs.

It's been attempted before without general success, although it's not an idea we should totally discard.

We could achieve a measure of liberty and justice through the legal system, a system established while we were still chattel.

Attacking racism, prejudice, discrimination, and white preferential institutions has afforded us our greatest gains.

Doing so gave us the right to vote and have a say-so in our lives and in our future.

Doing so gave us opportunities to attend some of the best educational institutions that this country has to offer, so that we may be better equipped to embed ourselves in jobs, positions, and offices, where we could make not only a difference for ourselves, but for others waiting to carve out a piece of the American pie.

I'd say this: It could be argued that blacks have the greatest claim to this country, since we sacrificed the most to build it.

With that in mind we integrate not because we wish to hold hands with those that have oppressed us, but to claim our rightful place in this society, and to partake of the bounty that we helped create.

Now we could turn it down, but I don't know that I'm that magnanimous: there's nothing noble about poverty. That's why so many are coming to our shores legally and illegally.

Now we could refuse to associate at all with whites (our ghetto existence has to a large degree assured us that outcome) but separation has not dissolved the pain, depression, hurt, misery, hopelessness, and malaise that I see on the faces of those trapped there.

Dr. King saw that hurt and hopelessness and sought to create a society where, at least, we blacks had as much a chance to grab the brass ring as any other people.

I don't believe that his primary goal was integration as much as it was a pursuit of liberty and justice for blacks.

He knew that if we could exact that from this society, everything else would fall in place, regardless of the direction blacks would ultimately take as a people.

I don't know if this long explanation offers any more an answer than the post before this one.

And it may be that you'll never read it.

Yet, it was certainly cathartic for me to write it on a day that I revere, because of the sacrifice of Dr. King, and the ensuing gains (some may see them as modest, but I don't) that blacks have made because of that sacrifice.

Dr. King got us off our knees. We're no longer supplicants. Thanks to him, we're demanding a better nation, and hopefully a better world to boot.

christopherlee said...

You allneed to check yourselves. Look at the way blacks live now by comparison to say 1963. The difference is staggering. The work is not over yet but the change is remarkable. This is America. The point is the INDIVIDUAL that means YOU can make a difference in building a better society. King did HIS part, what are YOU doing?

TLW said...

before the mayflower said... Do you mean remain separate and apart from whites, yet live in their midst?


Bingo. In my opinion when we integrated all those years ago it set in motion a domino effect that the Black community has yet to overcome. Integration caused mass unemployment in the Black community, and it killed the Black economy. Blacks who during the segregation years owned their own business and were protected from white competition under segregation lost their business and were forced to close down their business. Many of these Black business owners for example who before may have ran their own restraunt were relegated to being a waitor for a White business owner and that was if he was able to get a job in the first place. Under segregation Blacks didn't have to worry about institutional racism, they didn't have to worry about a glass ceiling, they didn't have to have Affirmative Action, they had their own destiny in their own hands and didn't have to rely on the goodwill of a White person.

Hathor said...

tlw,
There were not a lot of black communities that had all that you stated. Atlanta was the closest city I know that happened. I think urban renewal did more damage and the inability for black businesses to raise capital. Not every community had a black bank. I think you have exaggerated the black community self sufficiency. Quite often when this was achieved the communities were destroyed. I can not understand where you got the idea of mass unemployment. Mass unemployment came about when industry left and many skilled and unskilled jobs were automated. Detroit is one example of this. Birmingham and Chattanooga another, when steel plants were close down. Chattanooga had a lot of steel fabrication, foundries and sheet metal shops. These industries employed many more blacks than black business. I lived in Chattanooga through those times, the fifties and sixties.

You know, I think black history should include smaller histories of places where black people have lived. Perhaps an oral history recorded now, before all of that generation dies. I find that for the time that I grew up in the south, there are so many misconceptions about how black people lived. What I say is from my point of view and I know it is different if I had grown up in another city, for instance, in Memphis or Paris, TN.

before the mayflower said...

tlw said:

"Blacks who during the segregation years owned their own business and were protected from white competition under segregation lost their business and were forced to close down their business."

I hear you tlw and I also hear hator. I find that what you both are saying has resonance for me.

tlw, I don't know your timeline, but it seems that hator's line comes closer to mine than yours.

Yes, I grew up seeing black businesses thrive under segregation, and I saw the encroachment upon those businesses by a variety of white businesses that possessed items that black businesses didn't have, or blacks could buy cheaper there.

Nevertheless, I think the problem runs deeper than that.

Black businesses didn't disappear altogether as integration grew, but it certainly reduced the number of black businesses because of white competition for black dollars.

Where I live, non-white business are thriving, but they belong to Vietnamese, Mexicans, Chinese, and other ethnic groups.

The absence of black businesses is a stark reality. These are small businesses which I'm told are this nation's largest employer.

E. Franklin Frazier posited in one of his books, I think it was Black Bourgeoisie, published in 1957, that as integration increased, black institutions would decrease.

It seemed a logical premise, but I don't think it was/is an inevitable premise.

We have seen a sharp decline in certain black institutions because, for whatever reason, blacks have not found it necessary to cater to them.

The automobile, for one, has made it possible to seek outside the community what one needs.

And even in highly-black areas where I live, white-own grocery stores, banks, and service stations clutter the landscape.

Would blacks frequent these businesses if they were black own?

I think they would.

Yet all is not dismal. Black businesses still exist, but do so because they're niche-businesses, businesses that whites have difficulty competing with: beauty shops, barbershops, and the like.

Yet, some of the black-hair product businesses are own by other ethnic groups. A trend that I don't understand.

But to create a black business environment on the scale you suggest (although highly desirable), would require a cooperation among blacks that staggers my imagination.

Thanks for engaging the topic. It's good to see blacks offer their opinions/insights on those matters we all share in common.

christopherlee said...

Blacks in general don't have psychology or cultural disposition to organize economically around their own ethnicity. Jews did, Chinese did, and so on. Blacks don't on average.

elle said...

ah, what about the NAACP, Black Caucus,Black Panther Party for self-defense, and Nation of Islam.What proof do you have of Blacks "not being able to psychology or cultural disposition to organize economically around their own ethnicity"? Go the fuck back to your backwater blog that no one reads or gives a shit about dick sucker.

elle said...

wait your black?dam!

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