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Friday, January 18, 2013

Hooray; It's Soup Kitchen Day

You're probably going to hate me after you read this one.


I'm not worried about how many Followers I have anymore (I'm pretty sure that 189 people don't actually actively "follow" this blog anymore anyway) and I don't care about pageviews or stats or ego-stoking comments.  So, hate me, chastise me, call my arguments "stupid" (my wife did-- several times, just to make sure I got the idea.  After all, I AM stupid!) and berate me as you will.

It's okay.

I'll get through it.

And, here we go:

I hate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I hate it.  I think it's not only ridiculous and insulting, but I think it's insensitive and defamatory and offensive.

(No, I'm not writing this while dressed in a white bed sheet.)

It used to be, as my wife reminded stupid me, just a day off, and people decided that it needed to mean more than a Monday without TPS reports, and so it became a "national day of service".  People paint over graffiti.  They volunteer at a soup kitchen.  They clean up a park in West Philly.  They shake hands with a homeless guy and give him a sandwich and a cup of coffee.  They plant victory gardens.  I don't know.

So-and-so annoying person that I don't like posted on Facebook that she's having a difficult time explaining to her 5-year-old daughter how their family celebrates Martin Luther King Day.

"So?" I asked my wife after that pronouncement earlier this evening, "who cares?  Why does it need to be celebrated at all?  I personally don't want anything to do with it."


Right.  I don't.  Why?  Because I think it's a sham, and I think it's a disingenuous opportunity for disingenuous well-to-do white liberal phonies to have someone take a picture of them holding up a paint brush in front of an inner city crackhouse and put it up on Facebook so their equally self-serving, narcissistic friends can Like it.

Give me a fucking break.  A day of service?  Is that what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have wanted?  His picture on a goddamn postage stamp and the Hallmarkization of his lifelong struggle, the struggle for which he was shot through the cheek on April 4th, 1968 by some racist fuck bastard who wanted nothing more than to diminish everything that man stood for.  And I feel like, with this dumb "holiday", we're diminishing his memory and betraying his struggle a little bit more every day.  By making it a talking point for politicians, a chance for a school project for teachers, an opportunity to serve not the greater public, but ourselves by performing an uncharacteristic, random "good deed" to lend a hand to those "less fortunate" to bend down.

How nice of us.

I think, if Dr. King had his choice, he'd get rid of Martin Luther King Day altogether and, I'd like to think, in its place, he'd ask for people to honor his memory by trying their best, every single day, to be a little nicer, a little kinder, a little better to one another than they did the day before.  To not talk down to anyone, to not subjugate anyone, to not treat anyone as beneath you regardless of how much money they have in the bank or their wallet or what level of pigment they have or what they use to comb their hair.  To have open discussions about what race means in America.  To have a dialogue, to really sit down and talk.  That would be my fantasy-- that on Monday, businesses wouldn't close, but employees would get together over coffee and doughnuts and actually talk frankly and honestly and openly about race, about prejudice, about what it all means to struggle with our own identity and the identity of others.  No Cultural Competency PowerPoint presentations, no awkward speeches by bosses.  No talking points and no bullshit-- just conversation.  Real people, looking at one another, and talking.  I think Martin Luther King would rather see that than some well-meaning though incompetent gawky white asshole fucking up the line at a soup kitchen because he wants to feel good about himself.

I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would want to see a black president, and high school plays written by staid and stodgy old dead white men featuring multi-racial cast members.  I think he'd want to see black police officers patrolling Harlem, Baltimore and St. Louis, riding around in radio cars side-by-side with white cops, who earn the exact same amount for each shift.  More than that, he'd like to see the black sergeants and lieutenants-- not to mention the captains and the commissioners.  I think he'd like to see us talking to each other.  Really talking.

I think he'd like to see us try our best to not treat each other like shit, or worse, as we move through the world trying to lessen our discomfort with uncomfortable issues, emotions and questions that we don't know what to do with-- answers that we're afraid to find.

You don't need a day to tell you to love your mother or your wife.  You don't need Patriot Day to tell you to be sad every September the fucking eleventh.  You don't need a day to tell you to call your dad or to tell you to be thankful for food and friends and family.  And you certainly don't need a day to tell you that all human beings on this earth should be treated equally; with liberty, justice, and fellowship.  I'm not saying "get rid of Martin Luther King Day".  If people want it and they think they need it: fine.  That's fine.  For me?  I think that all I want to do is try my hardest every day to be good and do good, and that is subjective and unmeasurable and I can't take a picture of it for you and hope you Like it, or me, but I think Dr. King, in the end, would be satisfied with my infinitely small, sometimes comical, always insufficient but nevertheless sincere effort.

In any event, I hope you have a nice Monday.  I love you.


  1. i celebrate every MLK day proudly and honorably by not getting my mail. now you know.

  2. "...and I can't take a picture of it for you and hope you Like it"

    That's because you don't have a cape. People would Like it if you had a cape.

    p.s. I love you too.


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