Why I am not going to the MLK monument dedication: tired of symbolism, give me progress!

16 Oct

My husband told me this morning he is surprised, given my passion for social justice and my love of the District of Columbia, that I did not go to the MLK dedication this weekend. I told him I want to go to the monument one of these days, but I would not participate in the pretend honoring of MLK represented by a statue.

If this country wanted to honor Dr. King they would be making way more progress towards ending racism, discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia, ethnic intimidation, poverty and all forms of oppression. Instead they carve a rock.

Median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell by $1,860 from 2007 to 2008. But look under the hood and you’ll find great disparity among American families. White family income stands at a median of $55,530, while the African-American family median is at $34,218. Hispanic families are faring only a little better, at $37,913. ( NPR). If America wanted to honor Dr. King it would not abandon its quest to stop income disparities and wipe out poverty. Instead we have become a society that looks down on the poor rather than realizing that their situation is an indictment of our society. In a land of plenty, only a few have plenty.

In 2009 5.2% of whites dropped out of high school ( this is going to be heavily populated by poor, male, whites by the way), 9.3% of blacks dropped out ( ditto on poor and male),17.6% of Hispanics dropped out ( same demographic) and 13.2% American Indians dropped out ( male and poor mainly.) If America wanted to honor Dr King it would be working to see that almost twice as many blacks and three times as many Hispanics and Indians did not find it necessary to drop out of high school.

One third of the children born last year in America were born to women who were not married. I have said before, I do not care who you have sex with–not my husband please, but otherwise help yourself. I do not care if you try to bed everyone on the Eastern seaboard, but having babies you cannot afford is unfair to yourself, your child, your fellow citizens  ( or residents) and your country. If America wanted to honor Dr. King it would spend more time making sure young people understood the economics of early births to people who had not yet established themselves in virtually any way, economically, emotionally, psychologically , educationally or career wise.

In other words, honoring Dr. King with a statue is like building a church to Jesus or to God or to Allah or to Buddha or to whoever and then ignoring what the said deity was about.

You want to honor Dr. KIng? Wipe out racism and prejudice, wipe out poverty, wipe out injustice of all kinds, wipe out privilege based on undeserved categories, wipe out apathy, wipe out hatred, wipe out war.

Rocks are for climbing, they are not sentient, and over time even the strongest one will wear down to nothing, social change endures, people matter, not rocks.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


One response to “Why I am not going to the MLK monument dedication: tired of symbolism, give me progress!

  1. James Gilmer

    October 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the article and I offer another spiritual perspective based upon Joshua 4. Let’s call this, “WHY STONES?” Re-reading the narrative in Joshua 4 beginning in verse 1, the stones are symbols not for the present but for future generations (children of the movement)…..verse 4. This speaks of history within a movement, and whether one is of this faith or not, maintaining history is very important and critical to sustaining any movement.

    The African Sankofa process also reiterates this theme:

    Since the advent of Haile Gerima’s 1993 film Sankofa (, many now know that ‘Sankofa’ has generally been defined as a process that ask us to look back to recapture and reclaim our past, and thus allow ourselves to move forward as we understanding the dynamics of why and how we came to be who we are today.

    I understand the articles intent, yet much more “Sankofa,” is needed in our communities to effectively move ahead for our children and their children. In my opinion, long after I am gone from this earth, some young descendant of mine will ask the question, “ What does the MLK memorial mean for me , my family, and my community?” How we answer that question, may determine the next generation of leaders (now and the future).


    Jim Gilmer, M.A.

    “Nothing could be more tragic than for men to live in these revolutionary times and fail to achieve the new attitudes and the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands.” Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967

    “If a man can write a better book, or preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse trap than his neighbor…..the world will make a beaten path to his door.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “There is no greater power on earth than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo


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