As we all gathered to celebrate the history of one of our most influential civil rights activist, I am posed with the controversial question: “If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive, what would he be like today?”
Quite frankly, I’d say he’d be quite disappointed. Our community and society as a whole is crumbling under the racist and oppressive Trump administration. King would be very distraught at the state of the African-American family – from the slayings of our people that steadily go unnoticed to the intolerance and segregation we face within our own community. You’re too educated to be black or you’re not allowed to be black if you’re queer or LQBTQ. The inner racism and hate among our own group is the reason we can’t elevate ourselves.
These are not safe times for anyone who does not fit the stereotypical ideas of “the American family” – being white and well off. If you are a queer person, especially one of color; an illegal immigrant seeking safety and a better life; or a black person trying to overcome generational curses, then you are not seen as one who matters.
It’s becoming steadily difficult for us to be truly equal. If Martin Luther King was here, he would be at the forefronts of the peaceful protests urging us to not let ourselves be crushed under the weight of white supremacy; instead, band together, support each other and create our own legacies. A wise man once said, “Don’t be concerned with being invited to a seat at the table. Create your own seat or your own table.”
We, as a community, need to stop being concerned about succeeding in the predominately white industries of beauty, media and business. Instead, we need to build our own companies and brands.
Martin Luther King was a firm believer of social justice. He believed that if you were not given the opportunity, you had to make your own opportunity. Only then can we truly escape slavery. Become the boss, not the worker. Become the payer, not the payee. Become the leaser, not the leasee. I believe he would also tell young people to go to school and seek higher education because your education in itself is a form of segregation. If our mental capacity does not match or exceed that of our white counterparts, it will be used to tear us down and separate us from “smart people”. Let’s stop stigmatizing being educated and show support to our HBCUs, which are integral parts of our community.
If Martin Luther King was alive today, I’m sure he would be weary that the battle plagues on for ages in a place of moderate to near stagnant advancement.
We are still fighting the same battle that he fought so long ago. Things have improved, but there is still much to do. Nothing is perfect and that’s why we must educate and continue to pass the torch on so that civil disobedience and the civil rights advocacy continues well into the future of our divided country.