In June 2015, my alter ego caught wind of the Charleston Massacre through a Facebook message. One of my friends said how there were police cars surrounding the old Emanuel A.M.E. Church that evening. I immediately knew something horrible happened, most likely a shooting – a fatal shooting.
Part of me hoped that it wasn’t another case of black folks acting gun crazy. I was relieved to later found it that the suspect was a white guy. But my heart plunged to discover that the victims were all black. I would’ve felt just as bad if the victims were of any other color. But hearing how it was a mass shooting of black churchgoers by one white guy opened up historic wounds.
I won’t go into much detail over the details. I’m confident you all know what went down that tragic night. So, I’ll fast forward to the present day when the court ruled that the man responsible is to be sentenced to death.
And so, here’s where I start contemplating the whole issue of Dylann Roof’s crime, his penalty and all things inside and out.
Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day where that one line from all of Dr. King’s numerous speeches is recited, broadcast, misinterpreted and misused ad nauseum where we’re told that he wished for a more or less colorblind society. But anyone who has read or heard more than just that ‘color of skin, content of character’ line learned that he was about way more. King was a revolutionary. A freedom fighter. He knew racism was a major problem in America at that time, and I’m sure he would feel no different if he were alive today.
Dr. King would observe the tragedy in Charleston and attest it as the extremism that racism brings. Uncontrolled white racial hatred is a lethal weapon whether it’s in the hands of people in white sheets, Confederate flag wavers suits with briefcases. It’s everywhere. It’s a matrix of oppression which kept unchecked will destroy lives year after year.
The Charleston Massacre took and ruined lives, but the violent racist mindset behind it has seriously messed up the man responsible. No, I’m not asking for sympathy, forgiveness or even mercy for Dylann Roof. After all, why should we go easy on him when he has taken nine lives without remorse? But I still have mixed feelings toward him getting the death penalty.
On one hand, he more than deserves it. An eye for an eye. But then again, how can a society teach that death is wrong when it kills people as punishment? Sending Roof to die seems too easy, if not costly.
I prefer that he suffers for the rest of his life somehow. I want him to wish he was dead. I desire him to be broken to the point where he’s the one pleading for forgiveness from the families he hurt.
Life or death, Roof is screwed either way. And at this point, hearing about his death sentence is poetic justice. He killed black folks, and the system that protects white folks will kill him, if it still plans on going through with it. Is it a step in the right direction towards healing? Maybe. Maybe not. But the shooting certainly didn’t quell the beast of white racial hatred. Be prepared for more victims to be devoured.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. He sought for racial justice and equality for blacks and poor people through virtually nonviolent means up until his death in 1968. That’s the basic and simple image of who Dr. King was. However, decades after his death, his legacy has been easily misrepresented, misinterpreted and misused to advance political and social agendas usually against the people Dr. King fought for.
Many folks of today seem to only remember Dr. King for one thing, his “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963. More specifically, they remember that one sentence where he mentioned about judging one’s content of their character, not the color of their skin. Many people seem to have misinterpreted that as a call for colorblindness. What’s worse is that some, mostly conservative, use it not in it’s intended context but instead to avoid any kind of racial responsibility.
Conservatives are notorious for using their version of MLK whenever the subject of discrimination against black folks and general racial inequality is mentioned or exposed. They use their disfigured knowledge of King’s vision, that he was supposedly a conservative Republican, against anyone who suggest that America must take responsibility for their role in creating, sustaining and benefiting from racism and reorganize itself into a system where all people have equal chances and rewards. So, things like affirmative action would be looked down upon by someone like their Dr. King.
But alas, the right is not known to be reality or truth-driven in their pursuits to maintain the status quo. If they were, the status quo would’ve crumbled, something they won’t allow. Dr. King wrote in Why We Can’t Wait the following passage:
“Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic. A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.
Few people reflect that for two centuries the Negro was enslaved, and robbed of any wages–potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth today could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation. It is an economic fact that a program such as I propose would certainly cost far less than any computation of two centuries of unpaid wages plus accumulated interest.”
Most conservatives prefer to ignore the past or not consider it having any significant impact on today. Nor do they believe that blacks are being or have been racially oppressed in any way. They rather believe that today’s black person have equal opportunities, and the only thing holding them down are themselves. Some believe they have more handed to them in the form of welfare and affirmative action. And some hard right wingers believe they don’t deserve any “special treatment” regardless of how they were or are treated.
But most of all, they appear to not know or not care to know that in the past, Dr. King was widely hated among white Americans. Maybe that’s why his legacy has been heavily malformed, to ease the guilt of white Americans, to tell them that racism is not their problem or a problem in general. And no doubt, if Dr. King were alive today maintaining his same views on racism, conservatives would target him as a leftist, a communist and(or) racist, an enemy against innocent white people. There would be no attempt to whitewash him. Instead, he would be blacklisted among the right, negatively painted as a dangerous leftist by conservative pundits. He would be placed on the list of the most despised black leaders alongside Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. And if he wasn’t assassinated then, someone would try, thanks to the influences of white supremacist hate sites and Fox News.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s image of being a radical fighter for economic and racial justice has been watered down by the mainstream as a nonthreatening leader who spoke about a post-racial society. The white-owned corporate media and even many school text books would not dare to discuss the Dr. King that spoke out against the Vietnam War, wanted to eradicate poverty and demanded economic equality, reparations for black people and that white supremacy was one big fat lie used to keep black folks down. That was the real Dr. King, the one that conservatives and many white folks would hate with a passion.
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2015 will be upon us, unless you’ve read this post after New Year’s. But looking back in the year 2014, it was definitely a wild ride with more loops to go through.
We lost several famous people along the way. We lost James Avery and Juanita Moore when the year started on a ridiculously cold note due to that thing known as the polar vortex. You know, the time when everything was much colder than usual and conservatives considered it proof that there’s no such thing as global warming.
Then, there was the whole Chris Christie scandal and that situation with the Washington Bridge. It was on the news for a while, but I guess it’s no longer an issue, at least for the New Jersey mayor.
I guess people were more hyped about the Seattle Seahawks going to the Super Bowl with Richard Sherman leading the charge in the most scary-to-most-white-people way when he trashed talked like a WWE wrester on national TV. People, mostly racists, considered that “thug” behavior. We all know why that is. But even if he was “respectable” like Forrest Whitiker’s role in the movie The Butler, racist fuckers would still find a reason to hate on Sherman. A black man, especially a father doing the damn thing like combing his daughter’s hair can never win in this shithole of a society. If assholes like Ted Nugent can take a shit on the legacy of Dr. King, they can screw over any black person. Or they would prefer to find the less reputable of us like that video of a toddler cursing up a storm while adults got their chuckles on and consider that as “black culture”.
That gave rise to the media sensation of the so-called “knockout games” where a few black youth would literally knock down random people in the street. Media reporting got so bad that you have people like Ashley Depew “creating” nonexistent black suspects to cover up those who actually fucked them up.
The hatred of black men is evident among America’s “finest” as it seems like we’ve seen a spike of cop killings this year alone. We’ve lost Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Eric Garner, John Crawford and Yvette Smith, Tanesha Anderson and God knows who else. And those responsible such as the pigs that murdered Aiyana Standley-Jones, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice were able to walk away thanks to a racist injustice system.
Cops like Darren Wilson, Jeffery Follmer and apparently, hundreds of cops nationwide have that police privilege that immunes them from any responsibility when they abuse or kill anyone, including unarmed black folks. They think that they’re just doing their job and everything would be cool if people would just cooperate. And if they get their asses beat, that’s all on them.
Out of that chaos sprang a movement that demands that black lives be given the respect and dignity that is only afforded to white people. One man by the name of Ismaaiyl Brinsley took it to fatal extremes executing two cops after shooting his girl and before taking his own life. And the media saw fit to link him to the movement.
Speaking of the media and its shenanigans, have you noticed how black victims are treated poorly as compared to white suspects? If not, lots of people did. It seems white people are basically good folks, but a few – according to the same media – have glitches that cause them to go haywire in the most violent way possible. Such was the case of Elliot Rodger, the misogynistic, racist, overprivileged fool who shot up Isla Vista in California or Bradley William Stone, the guy who shot six people in Pennsylvania before killing himself. And let’s not forget the pumpkin madness caused by young whites over something stupid or the usual Halloween racists who still haven’t gotten the moment that people of color are not costumes. All while showing the world they didn’t care too much for the numerous African women kidnapped earlier this year.
White people, particularly those of the famous variety, continued to show off their privileges and racism this year. Iggy Azalea, Ridley Scott (Well, Hollywood in general for producting such tripe like Blended, Noah and Exodus), Donald Sterling, Tal Fortgang, Anthony Cumia (One-half of the former duo Opie and Anthony), the dudes who frequent on websites like 4chan, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, the fools who went to poor black neighborhoods pranking poor blacks and almost getting their asses whooped on and, of course, xPrae continue to deny white privilege while actively perpetuating, participating, producing and promoting it.
We also saw black shame from the media. Ray Rice (and a few other black athletes that caught the attention of TMZ which caught the attention of other news outlets), Solange and yes, Bill Cosby have made the news for all the wrong reasons that threaten negative stereotypes. Ray Rice beat his wife. Solange beat Jay-Z. And Cosby’s accused of beating up the pu…well, I won’t go there, but you know what I mean. He’s accused of being a serial rapist. Then there’s the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Love and Hip Hop and the scourge known as Sorority Sisters. Does Mona Scott hate black people?
We lost a lot of notable people this year. We lost James Avery, Robin Williams, The Ultimate Warrior, Marion Berry, Big Bank Hank of the Sugar Hill Gang, Buster Jones, Joan Rivers, Meshach Taylor, Bobby Womack, Casey Kasem, Ruby Dee, Chester Nez, Yuri Kochiyama, Dr. Maya Angelou, Bob Hoskins, DJ E-Z Rock, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Karyn Washington, Frankie Knuckles and Chokwe Lumumba,
However, we’ve seen a lot of great things this year. Shonda Rhimes wows audiences with her new show How to Get Away with Murder starring Viola Davis. We saw the release of Blackish starring Anthony Anderson and Tracey Ellis Ross. We see Michael Sam showing the world that being gay is a beautiful thing. We saw young black women and men being overachievers, geniuses, entrepreneurs, activists, defying stereotypes and doing the damn thing. And we will, without a doubt, see more of that in 2015.
What do you remember most about 2014? What do you remember that I’ve missed in this article? What do you hope to see in 2015? Sound off below and I’ll see you next year.
P.S. I may create my own website.
Veteran’s Day is a holiday in November, on the 11th the be precise, that we honor and remember men and women in the armed forces who have served or are serving this nation. Though some means of communication, we express our gratitude for those who go out defending this nation, usually through some kind of media outlet.
There are some folks who are, for lack of a better phrase, into war. They see it as a necessary cause to maintain, ironically, peace and civility. “We must fight for our country to protect our freedoms” is the usual mantra echoed mostly by politicians, some who have – at one time – served in the military. They see joining it as honorable and they see fighting in any war as commendable.
But then, you also have those who object becoming a soldier. They don’t think it’s any different than being a murderer, only you are required by your government to kill. Not only do they not wish to join the armed forces, but they are against any and all military action, particularly war itself, for their own personal and individual reasons. They are often looked down by those who have served or is a strong supporter.
Personally, I’m not crazy about joining the military and I see war as a billion, perhaps trillion dollar business. Yet, I still got nothing but love for our troops. I don’t support war, but I do support those of us with family and friends fighting half a world away to come home safely. Sadly, I keep hearing stories how veterans are underserved by the same government that praises them. Some of them return crippled and disabled, but are still screwed by this nation’s political system that bends over backwards for the rich who likely are sheltered from the harsh realities of war or the harsh realities of…reality for that matter.
If we are to honor our veterans, how about, instead of just medals, how about giving them the help they need to readjust to society? How about providing health care, job service proper housing and the like? Sadly, many people think that waving our flags and singing “God Bless America” is enough.
Yet, no matter how many times they’ve been used, many soldiers still love this country enough to risk their lives for it. They are still devoted to “protecting this nation”, and while it brings up other topics for discussion, for now, let’s remember them and how they are not just fighting, or have fought, overseas, but also here in these United States.