What this video reveals is that, by the time of his death, MLK had pivoted. The movement he stewarded was no longer about being treated equally among whites in polite society. It was about being treated equally in an economic setting. It had been revealed to King that black poverty in America wasn’t the consequence of laziness or ineptitude, but the natural outgrowth of set-up where whites were propped up with government funds while blacks were left to wither on the vine and die.
Sadly, nothing has changed. In this recession, corporations and other vested interests have all been bailed out, but not blacks. We’ve received nothing in exchange for our vote. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a tally.
- Folks like us borrow at market rates if we can borrow at all. Meanwhile, bankers at failed banks have been receiving trillions of dollars in bailouts from the Federal Reserve. These folks borrow money from the U.S. government, our tax dollars, at zero percent interest, and then loan it back to the government at two and three percent interest. That’s the government handing banks millions on top of millions of dollars with a business plan that can’t fail. Really, your five year old couldn’t mess up this con.
- Banks like Citigroup and Bank of America saw their fraud rewarded by receiving something called “credit amnesty’ from the government. This allows these banksters to get loans based on the government’s credit rating. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a loan based on the government’s credit rating once you’ve f*cked up your own credit?
- Banks and others in the top 1% pay less taxes than you and I. Last year, Bank of America paid absolutely no taxes. You’d be in jail before you could say ‘Wesley Snipes’ if you tried that.
Point being, what King began railing against shortly before he was murdered, gaming the system by subsidizing some groups while marginalizing, and effectively starving others, is still going on, only now, there is no one left to fight it. Surely not Barack Obama, since he’s overseen these bailouts and has deemed black people too toxic to even engage in any meaningful conversation.
And those folks we’ve depended on to pick up the mantle, like Al Sharpton, are too busy protecting their own proximity to power to actually be bothered with King’s legacy. (I mean, “The Rev” dines at a local Wall St. watering hole. God forbid he piss off his dinner buddies, right?)
Again, the question becomes: How do we uphold Martin Luther King’s real legacy (as opposed to the watered down one contrived for public consumption?) How do we fight to take back what was taken from us? How do we fight the cuts to programs that we care about that are most assuredly coming down the pike after Obama’s reelection?
Or is it enough just to protect Obama from shouldering the burden we all carry as African Americans? We should decide, here and now, whether our duty is to defend the principles espoused by MLK in this video, or whether our duty and allegiance is with one man – President Obama. We’ve tried for three years to bend and contort our values so that we could have it both ways, but that’s never been a feasible solution.
You should ask yourself, “what would MLK do?” I can’t say I know for sure what he’d do, but I can say that the answer to that question has resulted in a chasm of moral distance between me and Obama. It has pushed me further away from embracing Obama’s policies.
I can’t decide for you, but it’s high time you stopped pretending, and at least did the emotional work involved in asking the question. The whole world is waiting on us to decide who we are and what we believe in, if anything.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Yourblackworld.