It’s sad how true this is.
i’m not really sure why these two are being compared? is it simply because they’re both black men who are really prominent in the political sphere, and known as ‘eloquent’? because the two of them operate[d] from really different places. mlk was organizing from a platform of fighting racism, class oppression, and war, and….. obama is the president of the united states. who was a senator and a professor. mlk drew his power was from the people he organized with and mass mobilizations, where obama gets his power is from the US government and corporations… imo they had really different lives and were operating in very different contexts.
the juxtaposition of these images/quotes implies [to me] that we’re supposed to see obama as a shame to the legacy of black progressive organizing, which is pretty weird imo because who does that about shitty white people? (answer: no one)
i think there are some important things to think through around obama’s rise to power and how his position as the president is connected to/relies on/erases/does violence to black organizing and black movements, but this doesn’t do it for me. i think there are better ways of critiquing obama and his warmongering, imperialist, militarized, neoliberal violence without relying on racial tropes.
^^^^on point commentary
Bang. There’s so many ways white media and shit like this works to demand perfect sainthood from Black folks before they can even get a voice.
You can have a white man who beats women, with severe impairment from drugs and alcoholism*, saying obviously factually incorrect statements, WHO’S NOT EVEN A POLITICIAN, and they’ll get all kinds of media coverage and legitimacy and put their uninformed opinions on the same place as any POC who is the straightest of straight edge who will be dismissed, and only, only, POC voices matter if they live up to some kind of perfection.
Why should Obama be compared to MLK? For sure, there’s a connection in that the Civil Rights Movement and the thousands of people who worked, sacrificed and pushed for changes in laws are what ALLOWED Obama to get into office, but by no means do we see white people holding their own to these exceptional high standards…
I mean, MLK had a dream and Reagan had Iran-Contra and crack cocaine. MLK had a dream and Bush Sr. had Panama and Desert Storm. MLK had a dream and Bill Clinton had deregulation and “fair trade” agreements that devastated multiple economies at profit for corporations. MLK had a dream and Bush Jr. got us Patriot Act, ICE, Homeland Security and two wars.
*Not that I really think these should be moral judgments, but rather, to highlight the double standard of legitimacy as far as society goes with white people vs. POC, etc.
Oh wait, so mehreenkasana posted this?? WOW O_O
I am truly taken aback. I really thought she was more intelligent than this. What the fuck was I thinking anyway??
Shit that will never surprise me:
- How non-black POC so fucking easily take part into anti-blackness without a fucking second thought. Anti-blackness come so fucking naturally to most non-black POC is is truly disturbing!! And yet we, black people, are expected to buy that POC solidarity bullshit from people who actively oppress us where they have power!!
- How easily non-black POC use anti-black rhetoric to fight the oppression they are facing. Us, black folks and our struggles are just mere parts of rhetoric tools at the disposal!
What Obama’s race has to do with anything you fucking dumbass??
I love how every single one of you thought this was an attack on African people. Something I would never do, something I have never done. It amazes me and confirms the fact that this is precisely why Obama has garnered such blind support for the policies he’s had. This post wasn’t uploaded to say: “Oh, look, two terrible black people.” It was to show how POC like myself had massive hope when Obama became president because we thought the entire idea of the Dream-coming-true happened. We thought marginalization wouldn’t happen. We also thought oppressed voices wouldn’t remain oppressed. When this went up, the purpose was to show how MLK’s dream didn’t exactly come true. I love MLK. I don’t love Obama. That doesn’t mean I “hate Black People” or I’m “anti-black.” Maybe you should read what MLK said:
Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular—but one must take it because it’s right.
Obama wouldn’t ever do that. That post was related to drones. If you lived in Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia or Philippines, you’d understand this post. You’d know that the Dream MLK spoke of, never came true. There’s no ‘anti-blackness’ in here. There’s disappointment coming from attacked POC who once had faith in Obama. Every single one of you completely went off point just like I expected of Obama supporters. I feel sorry for you. Continue drawing irrelevant arguments.
“This post wasn’t uploaded to say: “Oh, look, two terrible black people.”” Yeah we know that!! This juxtaposition makes it problematic because it condemn Obama’s action based on his BLACKNESS and like it was said before, no white person has to go through that! Black people should NEVER be held to a black code of conduct and shunned if they don’t follow it. This is how we fall in the dichotomy of the good and bad negro which ultimately reinforce oppressive structures. Obama is a black man but he is after all the president of the USA. A country where young black men like Trayvon Martin still get gunned down!! Whcih lead me to side-eye this: “We thought marginalization wouldn’t happen.” Really?
“That doesn’t mean I “hate Black People” or I’m “anti-black.”” I have seen you brilliantly argue with racists countless times which is why I do not understand why you would say this. You should know by now that oppression doesn’t have to be intentional. This is beyond your intention, oppression is not about loving or hating a group. You should know that. We are not saying that you hate black people. You don’t need to hate us to partake in a rhetoric that is oppressing us!! And the fact that many black people and non-black POC are telling you this, yet you want to disregard it, speaks volume!
This picture is based on the following narrative: Obama as a black man should not upheld white supremacy. This a fail for the obvious reason that Obama is the leader of the most white supremacist country on Earth, he is bound to it!!
In short: This post is essentializing a black person, their action and character, to their blackness. This is what makes it anti-black!
Why is the Martin Luther King Memorial White?
It’s funny. It’s ironic. It’s insulting. Yet so predictable. It’s been called terrible for an artistic basis and for economic reasons. And yet it confirms why our culture continues to struggle with the message of Dr. King.
The King memorial was dedicated two months ago, but I’m just getting around to writing about it. Not like anything has changed in two months, because if the memorial shows anything, it is how things stay the same. I just wanted to weigh in with some thoughts on it.
First the facts of this cultural artifact. The memorial took years to build and was made by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin. 120 million dollars were spent on the project, money raised from philanthropist and corporate donors. The four acre park, the 395th national park in the U.S. The rock edifice has a chunk taken out with a carving of Dr. King with a scroll emerging from the rock. Quotes from Dr. King dot the ridge of rock around the park. On the King representation, it reads, “From the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” taken from his most famous speech, the 1963 “I Have Dream” speech.
This is terrible art. King has this aura of authority, dignity, a kind of solemn gravitas that gathers around historical figures, framing them with a lens of tradition and guilt. It starts to become an ancestral guilt totem, looking down on us with shameful solemnity. It’s like the feel of the Lincoln Memorial. I don’t feel uplifted by this, just really small and disappointed about where civil rights is today.
Marcuse wrote in The Aesthetic Dimension that there is a difference between propaganda and art. Propaganda reassures the political narratives of the established power. Art arises from desire, and as such, carries revolutionary consequences against the forces of erotic suppression. Now compare this image of Dr. King with some of the images of Dr. King that emerge from local urban artists. Art on murals and walls in Atlanta, Memphis and Houston and elsewhere from Watts to Harlem. When I lived in Houston, there were public arts projects in the wards like Project Row Houses, that gave voice to the community and showed the cultural heroes of the African American community. This is art. It is encouraging, and located in a place that needs the heart of the gospel and radical loving transformation.
This is yet another attempt by the government to turn Dr. King into Santa Claus. Progressives have been asking the last few years if King would even be invited to MLK day celebrations. That the message is already watered down with ideology, misinformation and dogmatic ossification. The system that King fought against, the banalization by late capitalism, and a government that needs continual war to justify itself is a corrupt society. King is remembered as a fat jolly black man, like the genre typecasting of so-called “magical negroes” a la Bagger Vance. He comes bearing gifts and glad tidings, and we perceive that his dream is that gift, and we think that gift has something to do with racial equality. This is a version of King that even the right in this country, and the Dixiecrats who joined them, ostensibly agree with (if even on a very superficial level).
But King’s message is far deeper than racial equality. Racial equality is much easier to fake than the roots behind racism – the fundamental economic inequality in our society. The message is this; King was not killed for his stance on racial equality. He was killed for calling for a reckoning with the plutocrats, oligarchs, and the military industrial complex that really run this country from Wall Street and the Pentagon. (This is true today - you can say whatever you want to about race - but do not challenge the economic status quo - that is taboo!) King was killed in Memphis one year to the day after his much-neglected “Beyond Vietnam” Riverside Church speech in New York. There he called out the government on Vietnam, calling it “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” King was a social democrat ready to expand the dream to challenging the issues behind racism – the fundamental inequality of power. It was a move that alienated him from his closest supporters. He died quite unpopular in the eyes of the public - a fact conveniently forgotten.
In making the memorial white we have the definitive statement of the establishment – to whitewash difference and banalize opposition. It needs to take all opposition to itself and turn its message into a dogma that will completely cover the original intent. And it hopes no one will notice the changeover. It takes society’s threatening radical elements and claims them for itself. And if we accept this, and do not cry foul, we all lose.
What would the street artists do to the memorial? This is the question that nags at me and provokes my fantasy. To give the memorial as it is a real artistic quality, I would suggest writing an open letter to Banksy to invite him to do what he wants with it. In fact, it would begin to make it real art. Maybe he can paint it black. Really black. Like Onyx. A deep black that you get lost in. One that perplexes us. One that continues to shake us. A black like the blackness of the Vietnam memorial (which is the only real art the government has produced). I don’t think people come away from the King memorial shaken. You have to go to the Memphis Civil Rights Museum to feel that. You feel those dogs barking and the water hoses. (Or, here is an idea, maybe the Occupy movement can try to occupy the MLK memorial and start some collective graffiti.)
The idea is to celebrate the difference, not to boil everything down to the world of white bureaucratic males in grey suits. In its blackness resides the boiling potential for change in this country. I think there is hope in difference, not sameness. And this is the struggle - it is a fundamental struggle about power.
Frantz Fanon wrote in Black Skin, White Masks, “What does a man want? What does a black man want? At the risk of arousing the resentment of my colored brothers, I will say that the black is not a man. There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinary sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born” (8). What does this mean? That blackness needs to have its own power and its own way. And it does not mean being Sammy Sosa.
It is not trying to make everything white and male that is the revolutionary move. It is the celebration of difference, it is the creative, poetic, even mythic sensibility when one is able to discern his or her own identity, culture, and ontology, that is the radical move (Paget Henry, Caliban’s Reason). And it is a move that provides a real opposition. Is there any resistance left? How can we find a new form of upheaval? These are the questions that will stick in your throat and make you sick. But I think it’s a positive kind of sickness. A kind of nausea that King had, that Malcolm had. That Fanon had. Marcus Garvey. The Panthers.
So while President Obama was dedicating the King Memorial, Cornel West was marching on the Supreme Court across the mall to protest the Citizens United bill and other court corruptions, (like Clarence Thomas and Justice Scalia at Koch Brother-sponsored meetings – speaking of “activist judges”),to bring attention to the spirit of King. West, Tavis Smiley, and others are yet reminding us of the real message of Martin Luther King taking on corruption against poor and working people of this county. So there is some hope, some undercurrent of authentic feeling, some sort of prophetic measure that still protests with its every fiber.
"The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and noting to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’"
Martin Luther King Jr. (via darkjez)
"When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard."
Dr Martin Luther King (via zeitgeistmovement)
His crusade. The KING they wont show.