I want you to know that we are on the Ebony Jr. version of Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and you know I’m horrible at small talk. So in order for me to have a real conversation about MLK, I would have to tell you what he stood against.
And I’m from
. So I’d preach on this topic like I’m gonna collect an offering at the end.
But I can’t. Not yet. The images are too awful. The stories are too gut-wrenching. If you can’t watch pretend aliens, I can’t let you watch real dogs tear into real elderly women on the real streets of the country you pledge allegiance to.
See? I’m what? Three paragraphs in? And I’m mad.
Aaah, I digress. And the digressing is the problem. Because one can digress to a very dark place. A place of fear. A place of hatred. A place of anger and paralysis.
And that is the challenge of a conscious black parent. To raise our babies to be aware, but not exactly angry. I think we’d like to dial all of y'all up to about this level.
What is that? Like, a green, black and red threat level?
Anyhooo, you have to know your history. You need to know what sacrifices came so that you would not be snatched out of my arms to be sold to the highest bidder at birth. So that you can drink out of any water fountain you’d like to. So you don’t have to step off the sidewalk to allow a white person to pass. So that you could learn to read these words.
You may have noticed a certain facial tic I get when your grades are any less than stellar. That is the entire text of ‘Letter From A Birmingham Jail’ trying to ERUPT FROM MY FACE.
In the future, when you are ready, we are going to have a ROUSING screening of
, homey. I’m working on my post-viewing worksheets and discussion guide! Also, I plan to reenact the movie
using interpretive dance and sock puppets. But I’m saving that for your eighth birthday.
Still, who is ever old enough to see
? It scars you no matter how old you are when you see it. But I think you need those scars, those callouses that can help protect your tender insides. If you haven’t seen such awful things, then you might lie down and cry and never get up again.
Or get a D on your report card.
You know what I need for MLK Day 2015? I kind of need a Schoolhouse Rock version of the civil rights movement. Possibly rapped by Will smith.
In Birmingham, Alabama Bull Connor was straight clownin’
He’d turn dogs on children for usin’ a whites-only water fountain!
Hit me up, Will. We could make history.
I assume you’ll be making your way through this blog in a sorta chronological order. So I’m going to try to start you down this road with something that will neither scare you nor bore you.
“MLK WAS A GREAT MAN!!!!!!!!” No fucking shit. Sentences like that will make your english teacher hate you.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a tremendous force who, against all odds, swung the pendulum toward social justice for African Americans.
But he wasn’t perfect.
People think that in order to do good, you have to be perfect. He couldn’t possibly do anything at all that is wrong. He must be the perfect husband. He must be the perfect father. He mustn’t curse, drink, have sex, make mistakes, get angry, or jaywalk.
But there’s always someone who has proof of imperfection. Always. And they are eager to tear your hero to tiny, human, pooping, cursing, lusting, screaming, ugly little shreds. I’m not going to link to those places that want to “expose” MLK, because they are yucky little pits of hate on the Internet.
Now my advice for you? First, understand that a great person can have great failings as well. They are human. Don’t let every revelation send you into a tailspin. Examine the criticism carefully, and don’t automatically throw your hero into the bonfire.
Second, never believe that you can’t make history because you have made mistakes. If perfection were the criteria, then everyone would fail.
The founding fathers owned slaves and yet we give them a pass. But dude? Try not to repeat THAT particular mistake. That one really sucked.
So in conclusion, great men aren’t great in every single way and there’s always someone waiting to share this amazing revelation with the world.
But, son? Never take a picture of your genitals. Don’t make it easy for them hating motherfuckers.