Yesterday, as I was bombarded by videos and quotes about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. both on line and television. I was experiencing a feeling that I couldn’t identify.
I watched @sonareneetaylor repost a video that @instagram had taken down about how if you are white you really can’t understand or know what white supremacy will do because you are in the water. And then afterward I watched Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last public speech. And it hit me what I was feeling. Rage.
It is that rage I felt when denied the opportunity to use my mother’s Henri Bendel credit card to buy this exquisite dress for the company Christmas party back in the ’90s for some obscure reason. I won’t go into detail about how I was followed throughout the store and how the people who came out of nowhere to tell me that the card being used could not be used were aggressive and disrespectful in ways I knew my white friends would never experience. I had seen them get through situations with smiles, phone calls to parents, and well wishes.
It is the rage I felt when my brother didn’t come home again because he had been picked up by the police for the third time for being a 6’ 4” Black man. And held without a phone call until just after he was due for work. No paper work processed, the cops just messing with a man’s life. My brother finally moved to Amsterdam to be done with the injustice he experiences in the country of his birth.
I feel rage when we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He was killed because he wanted whiteness held to account for its continued mistreatment of the American Negro. The government of the USA terrorized him and his family. White Americans terrorized him and his family. He was physically and emotionally hurt by the actions of his fellow humans, who could only see his Blackness. He suffered deep depression and feared for his life and the lives of his family. After his life was taken because he dared continue to speak truth to power, we celebrate and venerate him now as a hero who stood for love. The irony. The audacity. The caucasity.
I feel a deep rage that has to be controlled, adjusted, and continuously modified, so it doesn’t eat my soul. I have mastered this rage, this duality and I find no solace or peace because of it. I do find solace in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words,
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Victory in this fight against the violence of whiteness will be ours.
I found this quote on CNN’s website and I have to say that the title of the page is another way in which whiteness belittles Black lives. The title reads “Here is the speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave the night before he died.” He didn’t just die he was assassinated aka murdered. And he earned a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. He should be referred to as Dr. There is that rage again.