Friday, April 4, 2008

40 years later


Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To be honest, I'm pissed.

How far have we come, as a nation? As a community? I'm trying not to give in to my inner pessimist, but I generally feel like, although we've made tremendous strides, been walking around in circles. The problems of race-based class division, sexual exploitation, and the denial of even the most basic human rights (gay marriage, healthcare, the right not to get killed for wearing a dress) still exist, only there's more room for Black and Brown folks to oppress along with people who've traditionally gained from white privilege.

For instance, right now I'm in Baldwin Hills. It's a middle class Black suburb in Los Angeles. It's filled with doctors, lawyers, manicured lawns and a general attitude of superiority that conflates the false glamor of Los Angeles with the condescension of uppity Negroes. The general vibe I get from this place is "here, we've made it. Now we can sit atop the hill and sport our newfound whiteness like it was the latest offer from Opera's book club." Is this the dream that King talked about? The ability of a minute few to gain access to the most prestigious schools, professions and neighborhoods while large segments of our community continue to struggle to no avail? Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against getting an education or moving into an aesthetically pleasing neighborhood, but it's the attitude of some of these folks that gets me, the utter disrespect they seem to have for people who don't drive, vacation and talk like them.

Of course, today's anniversary brings to mind the infamous Boondocks cartoon:

3 comments:

Colin Ehara said...

I appreciate this post. I could literally write a book about why I adore Martin Luther King and want to weep daily for what Amerika did to him and continues to do to everyone who isnt a W.A.S.P. male, but I think instead I'll respond to your thoughtful words.

While our lenses differ due to our race/gender backgrounds/identities, I find that I share this anger at my own Japanese/Asian Amerikan community in terms of the complacency that I view when my people reach a certain socioeconomic status.

My grandparents & most JA people in many ways, choose to never speak about the "relocation" and internement of Japanese-Amerikans during WWII. It is as if the reperations and apology from Ronald Reagan (only to SURVIVING people who were incarcerated), made all the internalized and externalized racism go away.

It my full belief that Reagan and his cohorts paid ONLY those who were still alive at the time, because to pay the family members of the dead who suffered from the JA concentration camps, would fuel the fire of Amerikans of African heritage who were seeking reperations and an official apology for slavery. Divide and conquer...aint that sh-- a b----?

It makes me feel sick to my stomach and deeply hopeless when I see my yellow brothers and sisters sit by passively as the poor and/or other people of color are destroyed. The "Model Minority," myth is responsible for a myriad of Asian Pacific Amerikans ignorance and sanguine behavior in a country that emasculates our men, exotifies our women and doesn't accept us as "true" Amerikans. Thank you for this post.

R.I.P. to the KING of love.
Colin

p.s. Aaron McGruder GOES. =)

Evan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan said...

*sigh* Uppity Negroes.
40 years later and we are still a people divided by our diversity instead of empowered by it. I assure you that the majority of the people living in Baldwin Hills are more obsessed with making their mortgage payments and living their version of Dr. King's dream than snubbing those who don't drive, vacation and speak like them. As a people, our 'have's' are demeaned about achievements or being more educated and are railed about having higher expectations for our 'have not's'. Applaud me for pronouncing the t's at the end of my words; don't break me down for it. Who's discriminating whom?