It’s currently January 20th [Editor’s Note: WordPress apparently operates in a different time zone, as this article was published on the 21st according to their system], and as I work through my volunteer tax preparation training online, I think back to yesterday, the 29th observance of the US national holiday officially known as Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. President Ronald Reagan, considered by many conservatives to be one of the country’s best leaders and considered by many liberals to be one of the country’s worst, signed the bill recognizing the holiday into law after it made its way through our glorious Congress (22 senators voted against it, including Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who still hold their seats today). By 2000, all 50 states recognized it, and I haven’t been to school on the third Monday in January since.
What does Martin Luther King, Jr. Day stand for? A million third graders sharpen their pencils and furrow their brows. Who was this man from Atlanta, standing 169 cm. tall, holding two bachelor’s degrees and a PhD, sporting a thin but powerful mustache and gunned down eight months before his fortieth birthday? As plays, TV shows and movies about this fascinating individual continue to be released, the discussion of his legacy and the current state of affairs regarding civil rights in the United States remains a divisive topic.
Racist doctrines, ideologies, customs and ceremonies are still an issue. Ours is a country obsessed with race. The plurality of opinions regarding contemporary social practices range from the assertion that black success stories can prevent people from recognizing the “categorically unequal” treatment of blacks to the demand that descendants of slave holders pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. Highly publicized events, like the killing of Trayvon Martin, the killing of Michael Brown and the killing of Eric Garner, generate an overflow of contradictory sentiments that muddle the issue of black and white into a murky gray.
African Americans are not the only targets of racism, nor are all disagreements between people of different races attributed to those racial differences. Race exists only to categorize, compartmentalize and divide human beings. Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is biracial (his father is Kenyan and his mother Kansan), but that hasn’t stopped him from being decisively labeled as black. This is an obvious and accessible example, but the terminology of race provides insight into how just one drop can spill out of the melting pot.
Fifteen years ago, the South Park episode “Cartman’s Silly Hate Crime 2000” made a statement about how misguided attempts to mitigate, reverse or penalize racist behavior can undermine the intended efforts altogether. The sticky and complex history of social justice in the United States has seen progress and regress, and divided opinion on how to proceed dates back to the founding of the country (more recently, but still in the past, Booker T. Washington and WEB DuBois set forth opposing viewpoints that are debated to this day).
Trinidad Jame$ has released his new mixtape, No One Is Safe, on the same day that fellow “$” rapper Joey Bada$$’s debut album, B4.Da.$$, hits physical and digital shelves. No One Is Safe features 10 songs, with diverse production and varied guest spots (EG: Peewee Longway, Problem, OG Maco and ILoveMakonnen). Read more and download it here.