Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#21 / Taking The Beating

I commend to you, if you haven't read it already, a wonderful essay by Hamden Rice," published online, "Most of you have no idea of what Martin Luther King actually did."

What did Martin Luther King do? He "ended the terror of living in the south." He "taught black people how to take a beating." 

That is what Dr. King did -- not march, not give good speeches. He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.

Once the beating was over, we were free.
Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on. But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears. So please don't tell me that Martin Luther King's dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today. If you did not go through that transition, you're not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.

Confronting our fears, and experiencing what we most fear, suffering what we have been trying to avoid: that is how freedom is achieved. And here is the secret; here is what lets us do it, whoever we are and whatever the fears are that have been terrorizing our existence. This is what Hamden Rice says, and this is what Martin Luther King demonstrated: 

If we do it all together, we'll be OK.

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