By ANTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
Earlier this week we celebrated the great Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK holiday season even yielded four day sales at some major retailers.
Major speeches (including the obligatory issue from the White House), annual school recitals, essay contests, and other forms of demonstrations to honor Dr. King took place.
Each year since the passage of the law declaring MLK’s birthday as a national day of observation, I have tried to honor the assassinated civil rights icon with a personal day of reflection/meditation, and to participate in some kind of ecumenical, spiritual public program.
The environment and atmosphere has changed this year.
Already the programs are building into tension-charged harsh rhetoric, demonstrations, and marches that are less celebratory; more caustic.
In fact, a law enforcement friend of mine in the nation’s capital warned me to avoid public gatherings, especially parades because of a heightened threat of violence and counter demonstrations from un-hooded racist terrorists.
I am saddened by the explosion of angry outbursts from every quarter, and the media is awash in debates about the sitting President’s degree(s) of racism. Just what does being the “least” racist mean? Is that like being a little bit pregnant?
Everybody seems to be angry, about everything!
And I am angry that I feel so much anger- towards people and politics, and I feel totally wrung out.
What is causing this?
I have tried not to focus too much on the tumultuous utterances coming out of Washington which has poisoned the very air I breathe; it is inescapable.
Sometimes I look at those folk walking around wearing face masks, presumably to avoid air pollution, and when I think that I might put one on to protect myself, I pause to realize they simply don’t give enough coverage.
Not enough coverage to protect me from the latest spew from #45.
He has further poisoned my air with the stench from his smear against my heritage (I am of African, Haitian/Bahamian descent). I have to gear up energy to defend against the charge of being a descendant of ‘shithole’ countries.
When can I have peace? Seemingly, not as long as there are legions of supporters of #45- and there are too many- who continue to not only give him a pass for his qualified racist country back utterings, but who, The Base, have performed a perverse call and response rallying cry to keep him in play.
He can count- and his base of supporters have voted and pledged their votes to him in the future (2020).
The better angels amongst us has begged for decency, but there is no decency left, and I am tired of listening to their defenders.
In fact, this country-filled with descendants of voluntary immigrants, indentured servants, and former enslaved people- has lost most of its appeal to foreigners.
Our melting pot is a burnt stew: charred lands scavenged from the Natives; deferred dreams turned into festering hostility; black men’s bodies ‘lynched’ by a police state; a collective, shrunken mind-set that has besieged too many white women in the voting booths; and an epidemic of young, angry white men with access to semi-automatic assault weapons!
Enter the fray: Donald J. Trump, a clever man who has been foretelling this day for decades. The records will show that he didn’t just happen on the scene of this great American implosion. He did not create it. But he has been masterful: his timing has been near-perfect and he has strapped on to ride the wave of growing mistrust of our neighbors, vitriolic antiimmigrant, racialized and racist sentiments, and the deep void in leadership on both sides of the aisles in Congress.
I cannot understand any black person who is anti-immigrant. I’ve never bought the argument that ‘they’ are lowering our wages and taking ‘our’ jobs. Who wants some of those jobs, anyway?
But I do understand why some white people are anti-immigrant: self-hate. To begin with, it took many generations for certain groups (all who were not already WASPs) to become ‘white’ on the census and in society. They can’t stand the threat of any loss to their standing as white people in America.
Read the nation’s history.
I wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have to say about all this talk about anti-immigration and racism in his vision of America.
Here’s one thing he said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his positons, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.”
We need to stand up as real men and women and take this country back. It is ours.