Monday, January 24, 2011

I Remember a King - do You?

The African American community has changed significantly since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and not for the better.

Segregation has ended, and we can live in predominantly white communities if we choose to and our children can attend integrated schools, but systemically our situation is worse.

There are more single head of household families now than in King's era, and education, which used to be observed as a revolutionary act, is no longer sacred or seen as essential or momentous. Our self-centered worlds are what we are concerned about, and consequently, we perceived them as being of more value than community. We talk about community responsibility as having axiological pre-eminence, but do not walk the walk.

Currently, what we own, who we know, where we live and other aspects of materialism are more paramount than what we know or how we treat others. We even roll up and compact into our little shells as turtles do when others we know as our intellectual superiors inform or take us to task on how we live our lives or our behavior. Lewdness and shallowness are exalted while education and illumination are frowned upon.

Yes, times have changed. Celebrity and fame are held in high regard and young people tend to be rappers, actors and athletes when once they were Martin Luther King Jr., H. Rap Brown, Malcolm X or the Black Panthers. Now, fewer African American men are completing high school than during the time of MLK or segregation. There were even more black-owned businesses then than there are now.

But who am I to speak? I remember the day MLK was murdered in my hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and the night before meeting him as a child at my friend’s father’s church. I also recall seeing National Guard jeeps on my street in front of my home and being told I couldn’t play outside. I remember my mom calling home saying Dr, King was dead and that he had been driven to her hospital in a Colonial Bread truck to protect his body from angry white folks. I remember; the problem is that most who will read this do not. This is the problem and why we do more harm in our selfish ways than good, and will continue to do so.


Devona said...

It does appear as if we have lost our sense of community. People do not know what the word community means anymore. I was just thinking a few weeks ago about how we could not pull off something in the scale of the Montgomery Bus Boycott today. People were gracious enough to offer others transportation to and from where they needed to go. Today, I can't imagine people doing that now without feeling put-upon, peevish, and resentful.

Tera said...

Yes Torrance, we have come a very long way, but not very far at all. It is sad. It is true.

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