Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. day. Today is his birthday, he would have been 88 years old.
I have such a complicated relationship with this man in my own head and I never met him. I hate the way his want of peace has been used to silence those of us who fight. And the way he has been tokenized by white America angers me. His words consumed but only to be spat back at us. Holidays and street signs with his name on it is supposed to smooth out the fact that he was killed for fighting for justice. All of these 'things' seem to just give us something pretty to look at. Similar to when we promote the Black Lives Matter movement we are told we have nothing to complain about because we have a Black president.
I've realized that many of the ways America paints itself as progressive, enlightened, or diverse, is really a silencing tactic.
I don't like the constant push for peace because to me, that is telling the oppressed that there is only one way to respond to their oppression. It is not the job or right of any of us to police people's reaction to threats of violence. To me, only preaching for peace, sends the message to the oppressor that they can do anything they want to us mentally, whatever they want to our bodies, and our loved ones, and yet we will still only respond with love. That we will only speak kindly, be docile, and educate sweetly to bend the ears of those who oppress us, even when they still will not listen to our pleas.
Likewise, the families of victims are always expected to publicly forgive after police brutality or terrorism in a church. They are demanded not to wish death or harm on the person that through death and harm ruined their lives. Black people are always expected to love back.
It angers me that Martin Luther Kings quotes on peace are so readily available yet so many of the other amazing things he said have to be dug for.
My favorite quote of his is this one: "The riot is the language of the unheard."
I believe there is room for peace AND radical action. Neither should be condemned. Some people can only do one and that's okay.
It takes many kinds of people to lead a revolution.
I believe people grow and change, and I think MLK did a lot of that in his lifetime. He would have changed even more and done even more had he been given the chance to live. Although I appreciate this mans activism more when he modified some of his stances I am still deeply grateful to him because I am here today able to fight because of him and others like him.