Author: Brennan E. Wells
Maybe somewhere down the line, we stopped dreaming. And along those same lines maybe we stopped believing in dreams as well. Black America has been waiting for the reincarnation of Martin Luther King Jr. or even Malcolm X for so long we have lost the message amongst the hype and promotion. The way Black America lives out the meaning of King’s principals may allow Black America to be awarded a grant, but not admittance into the beloved community. This leads us to a paramount question. Have we in fact rejected Martin Luther King Jr’s dream? Doesn’t the election of an African-American president realize King’s dream? I say yes, Black America has rejected King’s dream and no, the election of an African-American president did not realize King’s dream.
What is all too often lost to the many millions who remember the work of King is his assertions of the Triple Evils. Poverty, War, and Racism are the triple evils that King speaks of, that will keep a vicious cycle of violence healthy and strong, especially in a country such as the United States. These three d0miant sectors of violence are forgotten and disremembered when pitted against the March on Washington and the I Have a Dream Speech, but in fact, the forgetful nature of the most important aspects of King’s message and our tacit and overt acceptance of these evils rejects King’s dream.
For reconfirmation, King was against the war in Vietnam. Borders and skin tone did not box in his beliefs. Oppression no knows bounds and the struggles of the Global Majority(people of color) in Vietnam needed a voice and King provided that voice even at his own peril and sabotage of political relationships. And as much as we speak of the New Civil Rights movement (which I reject, for I believe the Civil Rights Movement did not take a break nor end), we must also speak on the New Vietnam. The War on Terrorism has taken hold of the 2001 Authorization for use of Military Force and been expanded past its legal and geographical limits to target, kill, and eliminate without end.
Shortly after President Obama took office, the CIA conducted a drone strike on a funeral in Pakistan under the impression that those who were in attendance posed a threat to America’s security. Instead, 41 civilians were killed and far too few in Black America spoke of a grave mistake in the genesis of the Obama Administration. But how can a people who believe and espouse their support for King on one hand, not follow his message on the other? If Black America adhered to King’s words Black Americans would have denounced such actions by President Obama. Is Black America more interested in the appearance of advancement and progress rather than taking actual steps that will lead to long-lasting progress?
To date, America’s War on Terror is the longest lasting war in American history. From Iraq and Afganistan to Yemen and Somalia Obama’s drone program has skirted accountability and transparency and far too few if any in Black America have spoken to the evils of War in the Obama Administration. Those in the Middle East may not bare a resemblance to Blacks in America, but we share in the struggle and our rejection of them in their time of need is a rejection of King’s dream.
In America, to use the word racism in defense or against another individual or person is akin to stopping the conversation and commencing in a mud slinging match. I challenge you, the reader to broaden your definition of the word. I assert, that under the umbrella of Racism is: prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, and discrimination. Black America is not guilty of ignoring or engaging in all of the previously mentioned versions of Racism, but where Black America falls short and is complicit is the willful ignorance of ethnic conflict and discrimination abroad.
No, Black America is not engaged in any ethnic cleansing here in America, however, Black America has slept as genocide has begun in South Sudan. The newest country recognized by the United Nations has a standing peace-keeping force of 13,700 persons from a coalition of various nations “committed” to preventing violence in South Sudan. Why are these troops here one may ask? Well, these thousands upon thousands of troops are there to prevent genocide from taking hold in Africa once again. How does Black America on one hand, espouse a reverence for King and his dream while taking a willful blind eye to the struggles in South Sudan? One will not allow the other, Black America has rejected King’s dream, which allows for the imminent genocide in South Sudan to take place.
There may be those who may ask, what can Black Americans do for a country so far away? I for one will not allow such assertions to take hold, for when South Africa was engaged in the willful destruction of Black South Africans through political, economic, physical and violent means, Black America took a stance. Why does Black America not take that stance now? Well because Black America has rejected King’s dream!
The vast amount of data and information on the poverty that Black America faces in America is enormous! The economy may be rebounding from the Great Recession, but as per usual, Black America is still worse off than mainstream America. Unemployment rates for African Americans are still double that of America as a whole. Black America faces more poverty than mainstream America at 25.6% and those numbers are far worse when we take into consideration female-headed households in Black America.
Black men in America are missing, gone and absent from households and daily life. For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million. Poverty comes in many shapes forms and fashions, and this form of poverty in Black America reaches across economic lines, family formation lines, social implication lines and educational lines.
So not only are Black men missing, behind bars, expected to die at an early age, Black America as a whole is not expected to compete on favorable economic lines.Based on the lack of employment, and the reinstitution of segregated classrooms from Alabama to Connecticut, Black America is impoverished to the point of no return.
Where is the outrage? Where are the marches on state capitols and town halls? There will be none, not as long as we reject King’s dream! King’s beloved community will remain an ideal in the passages of books that sit on shelves. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that he may not get there with us, but as a people, we will all make it to the promised land. Perhaps one day, when we accept the politics of a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders most akin to Martin Luther King Jr. in today’s politics we will make it. Maybe we will even accept the teaching of King and be wary of the Triple Evils thereby realizing we are the leaders we have been looking for. But until such a time and realization for Black America, we live a well-accepted lie.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new cover story for The Atlantic highlights, Coates highlights the history of the