On this holiday devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr., I hope that we do not forget his full legacy in the proper context. In Meeting yesterday, a Friend’s message rather bluntly noted that she is growing tired of the way that King’s life has been increasingly presented. Starry-eyed optimists have reduced the man to some sort of inoffensive Santa Claus figure. Gone is the edginess, the reformer threatening the status quo, and the leader who spoke out not just for Civil Rights, but also against the Vietnam War. And, like the Friend, for these reasons, I am beginning to dislike certain aspects of this day. King would want us to continue to press forward, not pass out rose colored glasses while we romanticize past struggles. It is true that winners write history, but be it known that I disagree strongly with the translation.
Jan 17 2011
Jun 05 2010
This morning, as an observer rather than a participant, I witnessed the annual Race for the Cure event here in DC. It is, for those who may be unaware, a charity run/walk that has served as an effective means of raising funds to combat breast cancer. It also memorializes those who have tragically perished from the disease and celebrates those who have survived. Before I begin, I certainly do appreciate the sentiment and the work that goes into it putting it on, but there’s a certain sort of commercialized, jocular, self-congratulatory aspect to the gathering that frequently makes me uncomfortable. At times this morning I felt as though I was in some sort of motivational seminar, the kind that businesses often mandate that their employees must attend. What I experienced firsthand today was a kind of glossy artifice when nothing could be more devastatingly real or raw than any person who finds herself or himself with a diagnosis of malignancy.