The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers
From Community to Chaos
It’s that time of year where one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speeches will permeate the air. “I Have a Dream” is often quoted — even by the
perpetrators of greed, racism and injustice. If half of us were truly carrying out the principles of Dr. King, the world wouldn’t be such a ball of confusion. Ruptured
communities. Massive chaos.
The brilliance and complexity of Dr. King’s work is his enduring analysis of this country’s three evils: racism, war and poverty. Over five decades since his death,
these three evils are alive and well and continually stoked by the likes of trump. Dreaming won’t rid us of them either.
Billions of tax dollars are spent each year in military aggression, both home and abroad. One in six Americans now lives below the poverty line. The unemployment
rate for Black people has been doubled that of whites since 1972. Poverty and economic injustice are twins that still dominate. The big tax cut by trump in no way
eased the deep suffering of poor and working people.
The King had many profound insights about life in the U.S. that can still inform our quest for racial and economic justice. Because the mainstream media has us
stuck on dreaming, it has taken years to uncover the nuggets of wisdom in King’s many speeches and writings that expose the barriers to peace and prosperity for
all American citizens.
Regarding the attack on the public schools, Dr. King believed that “the function of
education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” Many of our
children going to public schools are being robbed of a true education and ultimately,
The growing economic gap between the rich and poor is becoming an acceptable
fact. Dr. King would have found it unconscionable believing “the curse of poverty has
no justification in our age” and that the “the time has come for us to civilize ourselves
by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” To know that a CEO makes
270 times more than the average worker would sicken the King.
On police brutality and the criminal courts, Dr. King said that “law and order exist for
the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose; they become
the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” He would
be critical of any police department that persists in racial profiling and a prosecutor’s
office which has difficulty figuring out who are the real criminals.
On war and US imperialism, Dr. King was on point when he predicted that “a nation
that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on
programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
Dr. King reminded us that “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the
most shocking and inhumane.” He would be appalled to see that the richest country
in the world had 45 million uninsured citizens despite the efforts of the first Black
president to provide health care for all.
Dr. King has told us that the privileges of white people in an inherently racist society
must be scrutinized in the quest for racial equity. White people marching arm-in-arm
with Blacks shouting “Black Lives Matter” is a picnic compared to what it takes to
deconstruct an economic system built on racial and sexual exploitation.
As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday, let justice-seeking people learn lessons from
the past and declare a renewed commitment to the struggle ahead to save humanity
and the planet. That’s what it really means to fully embrace Dr. King’s legacy.
Communities must be built upon principles of trust and equity. Trust and believe Dr.
King when he said full civil and human rights will not come at “bargain rates.”