Monday Reflections on Martin Luther King

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Today’s the day we celebrate the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King and the inspiration of his life, sacrifice, and commitment to civil rights.

I woke up today thinking about the country and neighborhood that I was born into and grew up in.  My father was a Ford Dealer in small town Iowa and I spent my first nursery and grade school years there.  Eisenhower was president when I was born.  JFK was the first president I remember.  I was in second grade when he was assassinated. My second grade teacher came into our classroom with tears to announce it. The first election I remember was between LBJ and Goldwater.

I remember watching two things on the nightly news that was a ritual for our family. The struggle for civil rights unfolding in the south and the reports of the Vietnam war occupied much black and white air time.  Both were horrifying.  I ended my pre-college years in Omaha across the river spending the last years of high school watching the Watergate hearings. I graduated and shortly thereafter, the president resigned.  This is the time line of a baby-boomer born right in the middle times.

The most clear thing that stood out to me as I was growing up and into adulthood where I took my place in the women’s movement and then in the fight against AIDS and discrimination against GLBT was that at the very heart of everything was our creed that  all were ‘created  equal’ and endowed with ‘inalienable’ rights. No one’s life was lived with that creed more in mind than the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King.  I also remember the day he was assassinated and trying to get to my grandfather’s place in Kansas City the long way around the riots.  Some time it takes more sacrifice and anger than we should have to muster to realize those rights.  That was 50 years ago.

Looking back at the Obama presidency and the hope I had that Hillary would also be a first, I remember those days as a kid when the holiday we celebrated was President’s day.  We celebrated Lincoln who saved the Union and freed the slaves.  We celebrated George Washington who could not tell a lie.  Through all of this, my young heart got the message that Presidents could be flawed but the great ones did not lie.  They sought the freedom and dignity that all of us deserved.  They fought in the war against NAZIS and fascism to preserve and establish freedom and dignity for others. They sent Federal Troops to places in America where black men were murdered and black people were denied their basic rights as US citizens because that’s what moved the fight for freedom and dignity along in this country.

The Presidents we celebrated as children were honest and true to our values.  They were celebrated for their humble beginnings, their military service, and–in many cases–their great minds. They established national parks to protect our nation’s lands and created the EPA. Nixon went to China.  Reagan sought out the Soviets to decrease the threat of annihilation by nuclear weapons.  Barack Obama stands in many ways as a monument to the work of King but will most likely be seen as a bright and moral man who led us out of dark economic times with a level head while seeking the establishment of health care for all.

We most often associate Dr King with his “I have a dream” speech and his letters from the Birmingham jail.  But, this was also a man who fought for the dignity of garbage collectors to have a living wage for an honest day’s work.  Our patriotic days celebrate traits of Presidents and heroes fighting for and establishing our shared values. We celebrate their establishment and furtherance as much as we celebrate the men themselves. (This is also why we need a few more patriotic holidays that enfranchise our women heroes and our indigenous peoples. Hint: NO MORE COLUMBUS DAYS)

The deal is this, I always thought that when they told us those stories of “anyone can become” president that it didn’t mean that it was an anyone that “lied”, avoided military service, ruined relations with allies, praised fascists, and gave speeches vilifying those among us that couldn’t join the Klan and recognizing goods on sides for which good does not exist in the American framework.

My children are grown and I no longer have to pass along the country’s folklore. I’m glad because what we see in the placeholder in the oval office today is anathema to all those lessons I learned during the celebration of President’s day in my grade schools and that both my daughters learned in their grade school classrooms during the celebration of MLK day.  Kremlin KKKaligula chops down cherry trees every day and lies about it. Kremlin KKKaligula seeks to send our minorities back into servitude. His speeches are of Dreams of White Supremacy.  He is way beyond a flawed man.  He daily violates  our shared values and looks towards their destruction.

He has to go.  One way or another. Many people sacrificed so we could vote and this is the year that we show Martin Luther King that his fight to get voting rights and that his sacrifices were not in vain. I usually think of my grandmothers when I vote because I know they could not vote until well into their middle age.  This November, I will hold up the promise of Dr Martin Luther King’s Dream and vote for everything that he lived and died for.   Join me and get others to do so too.  We need not just a blue wave. We need a rainbow wave. We need a colors of the earth wave.

Here are some reads that you might like.

From Electric Literature:  “11 Incredible Books by Writers from ‘Shithole’ Countries. Let’s celebrate just a few of the amazing authors the president says he wouldn’t want in the U.S.”

But it’s a good reminder to celebrate the work of writers from Africa, and from Haiti, El Salvador, and other protected-status countries. As writers, readers, and human beings, we would all be intellectually impoverished by the lack of these voices. Here are some of our favorite novels, memoirs, and poetry by authors from the countries Trump disdains, many of whom celebrate their complicated homelands in their work.

And, from a patron of the Seattle Public Library: “Sh**hole Countries”: a Reading List.”

Our sh*t-for-brains 45th President doesn’t read, but you do! Explore some of the places and cultures he’s maligned, learn history he’s ignorant of, and see the world through the eyes of people whose lives he regards as worthless. Resist hate-mongering and race-baiting, and experience the world and your fellow human beings in ways that only someone not wholly devoid of curiosity, empathy, and functional literacy truly can! *Note: This list is not a publication of the Seattle Public Library, nor intended to be presented on its behalf. It was created on a patron account, outside the library, in the same manner that any library patron can do. (I encourage library patrons everywhere to create and share their own lists!) The Bibliocommons software tags all such lists with its creator’s home library. I apologize for any confusion: it was never my intention to present this list on the Library’s behalf.

From New York Magazine and the Jonathan Chait: “Why Republicans Love Dumb Presidents”.

Rather than segregate questions about Trump’s brain away from the broader partisan debate, they dissolve the former into the latter. They believe that Trump’s being called dumb by the intellectual elite is intimately connected to his political identity. This belief is largely correct. As it has moved farther and farther right, the Republican Party has grown increasingly anti-intellectual. Trump’s base adores him, not despite his obvious mental limitations, but because of them.

Two caveats are in order. First, many intelligent people have conservative values, and rationally support the Republican Party. Second, while Trump’s lack of mental aptitude may be similar to that of previous Republican leaders in kind, it is very different in degree. That said, Trump’s flamboyant ignorance and disdain for intellectual standards are very much in keeping with modern conservative politics.

From the SF Chronicle:   “Airbnb loses thousands of hosts in SF as registration rules kick in.”

Thousands of San Francisco hosts on Airbnb and rival home-stay sites have stopped renting their homes and rooms to tourists. Many others are scrambling to register their vacation rentals with the city as a Tuesday deadline looms for Airbnb and HomeAway to kick off unregistered hosts.

From the NYT:

Trump’s Racism, a definitive list. (

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Trump is a Racist, PERIOD.  (CHARLES M.BLOW)

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial   (IBRAM X. KENDI)

Mental health experts routinely say that denial is among the most common defense mechanisms. Denial is how the person defends his superior sense of self, her racially unequal society.

Denial is how America defends itself as superior to “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere, as President Trump reportedly described them in a White House meeting last week, although he has since, well, denied that. It’s also how America defends itself as superior to those “developing countries” in Africa, to quote how liberal opponents of Mr. Trump might often describe them.

Mr. Trump appears to be unifying America — unifying Americans in their denial. The more racist Mr. Trump sounds, the more Trump country denies his racism, and the more his opponents look away from their own racism to brand Trump country as racist. Through it all, America remains a unified country of denial.
The reckoning of Mr. Trump’s racism must become the reckoning of American racism. Because the American creed of denial — “I’m not a racist” — knows no political parties, no ideologies, no colors, no regions.

So, what do we tell our American children? What does the world tell theirs about US?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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20 Comments on “Monday Reflections on Martin Luther King”

  1. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      I didn’t realize the extent to which Citizen’s United would allow foreign money to flow in. What a travesty. We can only hope the influence of money will cease to be a determining factor in our elections. I think it is already starting to change a bit with young voters who don’t watch TV and get more info from the Internet.

    • NW Luna says:

      Sounds like they all should recuse themselves from anything having to do with Russia. Unfortunately they don’t have the ethics for that.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    What Trump really meant when he said “shithole countries was that those who come from
    them are “shithole worthless”. That was the underlying message. And one not need be a “genius” to conclude the obvious: Trump is a racist from the tips of his bone spurs to the top of his swirly frothed head.

    The people surrounding Trump are evildoers. From Bannon to Steven Miller, their attitudes seep through his acting out against established policy. Trump is much too stupid to have a fully formed opinion but these devils are not. They hate “the other” which has led to the Muslim ban and other hateful acts that have been carried out during the last year. Trump may share the same philosophy but he is much too dumb to properly articulate his beliefs but instead leaves it up to these monsters to spell it out on his behalf.

    What we have come to accept is that the GOP leadership is willing to put up with just about anything coming from the Oval Office no matter how detrimental or destructive. They simply do not care. They will lie on his behalf for fear of losing out on the Trump voter which is setting the course of this nation on a self destructive path. Integrity, and a call to their oath off office, has lost any meaning so far. He can do anything and they will approve, support, and defend. They must go as well.

    My ancestors came from 2 “shithole countries” that would have held them back from reaching their dreams. They came here with very little but worked hard to improve their lot, educating their children and opening the door to a middle class life. This is what America stands for and why there will always be those who strive for the same privileges.

    America does not need Trump and those who support this unhappy chapter in our lives.

    • dakinikat says:

      Every time I hear or see a Trump supporter I feel like I have met a demon set to surround us with hate and anger.

      • Enheduanna says:

        My brother’s support for tRump has ruined my relationship with him and my sister-in-law. She and I used to have lots of fun doing things together but she fully supports him so I dropped anything to do with either of them. We only get together for family gatherings because of my Mom who is 87. Once Mom passes I don’t expect to see them again.

        I’m sure there are lots of families torn like this now.

        • NW Luna says:

          I am much more calm since I broke off relations with my racist-wing relatives. Don’t miss them at all. Sometimes I feel sad that my sister is so under her husband’s thumb — she was (and probably still is) not happy much of the time but a wife must obey her husband — as their church says. *shudder*

        • RonStill4Hills says:

          I hate to hear this but I understand.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Great post, Dak. I love the children’s drawings.

  4. NW Luna says:

  5. quixote says:

    King was a great and brave man.

    “the very heart of everything was our creed that all were ‘created equal’ and endowed with ‘inalienable’ rights. No one’s life was lived with that creed more in mind than the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King.”

    That “no one” bothers me though. He was rather determined not to notice the advantages given him by patriarchy. There’s a bit of a round-up here. As that link says, ‘he saw women in general and black women specifically as “less than” in much the same way that white people see black people as “less than.”.’

    Shirley Chisholm comes to mind as fitting the description of living her life by the creed that all are created equal.

    He was great and brave, but it’s important to recognize that we still have to do better.

    • NW Luna says:

      How ML King Jr treated women does not make him a good role model. Yes he did great things for the civil rights movement and was an inspirational speaker. But when it came to women he certainly did not believe in “equality for all.”

      Shirley Chisholm, OTOH, had a life of public service also & was an inspirational speaker — and walked her talk. I remember her saying that she faced more discrimination as a woman than she did as a black.

  6. RonStill4Hills says:

    I have been avoiding the news…what is exactly is this debate between “house ” and “hole?”

    Who is saying what exactly?

    • NW Luna says:

      Apparently the Rs say he actually said shithouse which is all right! according to the Rs. Shithole would not be. Their “logic” hurts my head. Come on, we know he’s racist and both terms are racist never mind unpresidential.

    • dakinikat says:

      House must be the dumb white person’s business upgrade from coach.

  7. RonStill4Hills says:

    This will sound bad, but I totally do not mean it in a bad way.

    Some of those drawings of MLK, cute as they were, and as well intended as they were, looked more like Black Hitler than they did like MLK. Just the ones with the little toothbrush moustach.

    Can I get out of it by saying, “Bless their hearts?”

    🙂

    • NW Luna says:

      I understand what you mean. I know the kids meant well and their drawing skills are … um … still developing. King’s moustache definitely curves down a bit at either end to frame his mouth — and was a handsome addition to his face. Hitler had a toothbrush thick straight moustache, which is what the kids have drawn, except for the one which shows him speaking. The New Yorker cartoonist gets it better.