Martin Luther King Jr Day
Anyone who knows the unwhitened story of Martin Luther King Jr understands why whitesplaining “what MLK would have wanted” is a favorite pastime of politicians and performative sympathetic social media “allies”.
The average American might get the heebie-jeebies if they knew they were celebrating a radical who challenged systemic racism, supported reparations and advocated for a universal basic income.
For the entirety of the 39 years that King lived and breathed, there wasn’t a single day when the majority of white Americans approved of him.
Although, in death, he became one of the most revered figures in US history, for the entirety of the 39 years that King lived and breathed, there wasn’t a single day when the majority of white Americans approved of him. In 1966, Gallup measured his approval rating at 32% positive and 63% negative. That same year, a December Harris poll found that 50% of whites felt King was “hurting the negro cause of civil rights” while only 36% felt he was helping. By the time he died in 1968, three out of four white Americans disapproved of him. In the wake of his assassination, 31% of the country felt that he “brought it on himself”.
One does not have to reach back into the historical archives to explain why King was so despised. The sentiments that made him a villain are still prevalent in America today.
When he was alive, King was a walking, talking example of everything this country despises about the quest for Black liberation. He railed against police brutality. He reminded the country of its racist past. He scolded the powers that be for income inequality and systemic racism. Not only did he condemn the openly racist opponents of equality, he reminded the legions of whites who were willing to sit idly by while their fellow countrymen were oppressed that they were also oppressors. “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it,” King said. “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
To be fair, King readily admitted that it was his goal to make white people uncomfortable.
Just before he condemned white moderates in A Letter from Birmingham Jail, he revealed that his goal was to “create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism”.
He went on to explain that nonviolent direct action – King’s primary strategy to affect progress – was an attempt to induce the white community to a point where marginalized people’s desperate cries could no longer be ignored.
Yet, this new, more compassionate America is just as intolerant when Black Lives Matter demonstrators flood into the streets to protest police brutality. Of course, if teaching Black history wasn’t criminalized as critical race theory, more people might know that the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers’ original intent was to confront their governor about police brutality – namely the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson by an Alabama state trooper.
The people who believe the NFL should have kicked Colin Kaepernick out of football for his “un-American” protests would have really loathed Roberto Clemente, who convinced his teammates to protest King’s death by refusing to play on Major League Baseball’s opening day in 1968. They were furious when Clemente told his local paper: “If you have to ask Negro players, then we do not have a great country.”
King regularly judged white people to explain the insanity of white supremacy.
I wonder how Tim Scott and Mitch McConnell would’ve felt about that. After all, they both invoked King’s name while claiming that America is not a racist country. But I’m sure MLK would never go as far as painting his place of birth as a racist country. “The first thing I would like to mention is that there must be a recognition on the part of everybody in this nation that America is still a racist country,” said King days before a white supremacist put a bullet in his face. “Now however unpleasant that sounds, it is the truth. And we will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is.”
See how many times someone mentions that quote today. Oh, wait … King made that speech at Grosse Pointe High School, where Michigan’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently passed an anti-CRT bill making it illegal to teach that the “United States is a fundamentally racist country”. Never mind.
That’s why, despite what people who cherry-pick quotes from the I Have a Dream speech would have you believe, King has never suggested that white people should be judged “by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin”. In fact, he regularly judged white people to explain the insanity of white supremacy.
“In their relations with Negroes, white people discovered that they had rejected the very center of their own ethical professions,” King wrote in 1956. “They could not face the triumph of their lesser instincts and simultaneously have peace within. And so, to gain it, they rationalized – insisting that the unfortunate Negro, being less than human, deserved and even enjoyed second class status… White men soon came to forget that the Southern social culture and all its institutions had been organized to perpetuate this rationalization. They observed a caste system and quickly were conditioned to believe that its social results, which they had created, actually reflected the Negro’s innate and true nature.”
Even as a 17-year-old, King used Georgia’s largest newspaper to make the entire state uncomfortable when he reminded the Atlanta Constitution’s readers: “It is fair to remember that almost the total of race mixture in America has come, not at Negro initiative, but by the acts of those very white men who talk loudest of race purity.”
To white America, that Martin Luther King Jr was an America-hating, anti-white commie, just like today’s outspoken Black people who are criticized for “playing” all the things that white America hates: the “race card”, the “victim”, and – my favorite – “identity politics”.
Also be sure to read about the frightening truth of MLK Jr's assassination.