Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Martin Luther King Jnr.

Sharing a birthday with the Rev.d Luther King has always made me feel a vague connection with the man. Today is the anniversary of his murder - a murder than highlights the high cost paid by those who stand up against the status quo, who challenge entrenched powers on behalf of the downtrodden, and above all who have the temerity to stand up to satanic theories of race based on the ugly history of the transatlantic slave industry.

If my earlier posting gave the impression that I thought it was all down to us whites to sort out the problems faced by black people, then I apologise - Martin Luther King is one of many examples of how much of the emancipation from slavery and the subsequent social segregation was down to black people themselves taking hold of their lives, history and destiny and changing it for themselves - with or without the help of whites.

Of course, it then becomes easy to swing the other way, and lionise the likes of King and lo and behold we have the Hollywood "Wise Negro" archetype - you know the sort played usually by Morgan Freeman - who is noble and kind and spiritual and sorts out the white protagonist's inner demons and sets him/her on the path to enlightenment (think of Driving Miss Daisy and you get the picture - although you could also include the Morpheus in the Matrix under that rubric). It's just as much of a myth as the other stereotypes of black people that we white Europeans and Americans have.

Martin Luther King had his flaws (he was an adulterer for one), but he also had a grasp of something central - God's bias to the poor and downtrodden and the need for justice, not based on retribution and revenge, but on setting things right between people. He only partially succeeded, but that was still some success. There is a lot more to be done.

No profound insights there then, just an attempt at a corrective to what I posted earlier, and to remember not just the man on this anniversary, but the struggle for racial and social justice which is still ongoing, and those fighting in the front line.

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