Monday, January 16, 2006

Just Another Day Off

Today is Martin Luther King Day. All the white people I work with are being extra nice. One of my coworkers asked me, “so Donna, what do you like to do on weekends?” “Besides fight for the rights of my people?” I responded. The traffic was really light this morning. I was watching the Today show, and the weatherman sitting in for Al Roker (who was obviously off today fighting for the rights of his people) went up to a black woman from Toledo and told her, “Happy Martin Luther King Day.”

Last night, all the clubs and hangouts stayed open late, because assumingly, everybody had the day off because of Martin Luther King Day. To remember a man who was imprisoned, stoned and ultimately killed fighting for the rights of his people, I don’t think it’s appropriate to spend the day for the ass because you were drunk the night before.

Every year, in every town in America, some preacher or mayor or city council person is speaking at some MLK breakfast, or lunch or march or parade saying something about how we can no longer live in MLK’s dream and what we are in now in a nightmare. All kind of statistics will be thrown about, rap music will be crucified several times today. Even though 106 & Park and Rap City will show Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne and P. Diddy will say something about MLK’s legacy and life.

I watched Boondocks last night, which speculated that if MLK were still alive today, he would be treated like a socialist outcast. The most disturbing aspect of the show for me, was the way the other black people treated him…like he was Jesse Jackson or something. Like any other older, full of shit “ex-Civil Rights leader.” The more I think about it, the more I think that’s the way we really think about MLK Day.

Martin Luther King’s legacy is really about responsibility. Especially at a time that is wasn’t popular to be about anything. Most of the people of the Civil Rights Movement were teenagers and 20 years olds. A lot of them were taking up causes that they’re parents really should have been on the front lines for, but they seen some sort of responsibility toward the future and the principle of freedom.

Because of those people, we have more freedom to be responsible. I now have a freedom of expression, and I hope that my words move people toward action, and are not just for entertainment. I know artists, writers, singers, musicians…typists, dental workers, carpet cleaners, lawyers, doctors, all kinds of black people in positions that couldn’t have been in 50-60 years ago. Everyone can’t be a great orator. But everyone can read an article and remember. Everyone can’t galvanize a march. But everyone can have a discussion with their peers and non-peers. Everyone can’t stand up for what’s best all the times. But everyone can strive to be the best in whatever they do.

I’m not going to diss this generation of people, only because there have been all kinds of influences present in the last 50 years to keep us ignorant of who we are. Hopefully, people won’t just treat today like another day off, and they will use their “some kinda,” whatever it is that they express themselves, to remember the sacrifice that King and other Civil Rights activists gave for us to be the people we are today.

Today is for you. Martin Luther King is dead. Take it personally. Do something for change because you have the freedom to do it. And whether you agree or disagree with all of King’s philosophies, respect the fact that he had the audacious will to stand up and die for what he believed in.

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**Also, check out this article in today's Columbus Dispatch written by my friend Sherri Williams and featuring another of my friends Shakeer.


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