It's MLK day, which means an excuse to do nothing and watch loads of daytime basketball on TV right? I made a delicious batch of challah French toast and sat down in front of the tube, but since the Nets are so hard to watch and the Knicks can't defend their way out of a paper bag, I had a lot of time to think.
Sometimes the civil rights movement feels like two hundred years ago. I was born in the 80's and I'm from the North and the struggles I heard about in school never felt current and applicable. In reality, my parents were in their early twenties when the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) were passed into legislation. That was the apex of the movement and it was only 15 years before I was born!
I try to remember that timeline when I get frustrated with the state of race relations in this country and need a positive outlook. The movement is still far away from its ultimate goal, for sure. But at least it's getting better, at least some people learned, and at least things that were commonplace not more than 50 years ago are now taboo and widely considered over the line. As they should be. For fucks sake, there were separate water fountains in the south when my folks were getting married...that's super scary.
Fairly recently I read something that said the mainstream media has it in their best interest to tout the King agenda and his peaceful form of resistance. Their point was that the counter movements, particularly the Black Panther Party, played a large role in the formation of change but don't make contemporary history as often due to their progressive, and often violent policies. The whole COINTELPRO fiasco was proof positive of that, in a way. The government was so terrified about these movements organizing together and having a unified voice that the FBI intervened with dangerous, and almost childish policies to try and incite anger between the groups.
This isn't meant to degrade what Dr. King did in any way, because his perspective and ability to lead were absolutely necessary. But it's possible that completely pacifist movements often fail to cause the reaction they need to. Sometimes the mix of ideas and action might really be the only way.
I want to believe in pacifism, but I'm not certain if the entire concept is naive....what do you guys think??