Daily Show on people claiming Martin Luther King, Jr. for their own

Last night, Larry Wilmore was on to talk with Jon Stewart about how various groups are trying to appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr., for their own.

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2 thoughts on “Daily Show on people claiming Martin Luther King, Jr. for their own

  1. K. Alexander

    “I may not reach the mountaintop but the wi-fi there will be free at last!”
    Gotta appreciate the Daily Show!
    But in all seriousness, this is a good representation on what it means to be “white”, and how it’s not a biological type. Because MLK is seen as ‘good’, his other features of radicalism is immediately erase in order for him to become an “honorary white” and be acceptable to other whites- he’s nice, he’s black, and he’s not going to call white folks out (he did in real life, of course), and I always think it’s HILARIOUS (and sad at the same time) that he’s always quoted by white folks in order to put DOWN people of color. Hence why John Brown or Malcolm X are not discussed and often deemed as crazy- unlike MLK, these guys are angry, they are a threat, and they will call out on white folk’s racism and privileged.
    Notice that MLK’s works or real advocacy (mainly, I’m talking about economic equality and justice) is ignored, and also the fact that nothing else of MLK’s is quoted when he wrote numerous of letters, speeches, etc. Still, dehumanizing King is a method of white supremacy to even acknowledge him- and this is dangerous and white privilege in itself. Basically, I think Wilmore has the most valuable point despite being hilarious- MLK has become a caricature, and in places especially like Arizona, he’s not being celebrated, he’s being mocked against his will. Poor MLK!

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  2. ZC

    I’m starting to notice a trend in many of the mainstream portrayals of people of color themselves or of things that people of color do and make– this is that they are taken out of their historical context. This is true for MLK, the Harlem Shake, dreadlocks, cultural appropriation in general, and so much more. Of course, this removal (by white imperial culture) from the historic context and meaning is absolutely necessary because, if we remembered MLK for his ideals of economic justice, it would be a threat to white supremacy. How is white supremacist culture SO good at taking the very things that are created in opposition or as an alternative to that culture and using them to farther the white supremacist agenda?
    In the case of MLK, I think what Kadeja says is crucial,
    “Because MLK is seen as good’, his other features of radicalism is immediately erase in order for him to become an “honorary white” and be acceptable to other whites- he’s nice, he’s black, and he’s not going to call white folks out (he did in real life, of course).”
    The only way that we can attribute this “good” image to MLK that utterly “whitewashes” his role in the civil rights movement, is by removing him from his historic context. If we look at Foucault’s theories of power-knowledge, we begin to complicate our analysis of the role of individuals in historic processes. I believe that by romanticizing MLK, we obliterate the legacy, the violence, and the radical practices that made his message of nonviolence (at least that’s how we interpret it…) possible. Indeed, MLK cannot exist without the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and the masses of African American people who risked their lives during the ’50s and ’60s.
    Because MLK is divorced from his context, he can then be used, Wilmored demonstrates, as an “imaginary black ‘yes man.'” Ironically, as Kedeja points out, “he’s always quoted by white folks in order to put DOWN people of color.” Now, I don’t know if I’m mistaken, but I’m pretty sure MLK didn’t support the white supremacist agenda when he was alive and we should probably stop manipulating his legacy to do just that when he’s dead…!!!!!!

    *Note: when I say we, the we that I refer to is the dominant white supremacist culture

    Reply

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