Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I walked out of the Civil Rights museum absolutely furious. I was mad because we kept being told that you can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream. But I think that’s basically bullshit. I look at America after the murder of MLK and I see barely any progress made fighting racial injustice. The conspiracy theorists say that King was murdered because he started talking about economic justice. Personally, I don’t buy that – I think he was killed by a random racist like everyone knew he would be sooner or later and it’s just coincidence that it happened when he was working on the garbage workers’ strike. But that doesn’t change the big picture, which is that economic oppression has always been the fundamental means of racist oppression in America, and the economic system survived slavery and integration completely intact. We think a lot about racism in terms of people calling people bad names. But the way racism manifests itself in America today is primarily through wealth. Wealth gives white people access to housing, access to education, and protection from imprisonment. And we aren’t even close to dreaming the dream about addressing the injustice of wealth. Further than we were when they killed the dreamer. Sure, the 50s were the height of McCarthyism. But there actually existed a real communist and socialist movement in the US. Today, the moderate left can’t even include a public option in health care.

The Reverend Kyles’ speech frustrated me. The message that we can dream whatever we want I find, frankly, American bullshit. It matters if our dreams enrich ourselves, or enrich those most harmed by society. It matters if our dreams are for technology and wealth or if our dreams are for humanity and the happiness of others. A bunch of privileged people exercising their privilege to follow their own individual vision of success doesn’t sound to me anything like the dream that King died for. I don’t want to disrespect the man, but his speech sounded to me like empty self-help jargon. Where was social justice in it all?

And there was George W. Bush and John McCain on the walls of the Civil Rights museum as “famous friends.” The modern Republican Party was born of the Civil Rights era, the Goldwater Conservative movement, enacted by the GOP hero Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a racist movement which preyed on white backlash to the gains of the Civil Rights. When Republicans talk about “States’ Rights” they’re dog whistling those people who visit the State Capitol in Montgomery and think of the Golden Age of the Antebellum South. And their policies are fundamentally and inescapably designed to reinforce the racist system of wealth distribution. And yet they claim the Civil Rights legacy. And we’re not supposed to call it like we see it, and it’s all so complicated and nuanced now and we have to be bipartisan and work together and certainly the other party isn’t worth a damn either really. But as long as the face of racism in America is “Bull” Connor then the head racist, former President of the most racist party leading this racist nation can visit that sacred place where we lost Martin Luther King and get his photo on the wall as a “friend” of the movement.
I don’t want to end this post by being all reasonable and backing down to some reconciled position. Right now, I’m just angry at those assholes that pay lip service to the civil rights movement while they work day and night to ensure the system of economic injustice is strengthened to their advantage.

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