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Whitey McWhiterson, Sam, And Their Pal Darko Black, Who Is, Ironically, White

By Jesse Taylor
Monday, August 30, 2010 16:17 EDT
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Below is a photo from TaniaGail, taken at the 8/28 “I Don’t Have A Dream” Rally.

Jim Treacher, on behalf of all tolerant conservatives everywhere, posts a list of news articles talking about the startling whiteness of the rally, followed by the single most predictable line in the history of writing:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH! He GOT them reporters! Fuck those people, they ain’t got shit, because they mentioned race! And Glenn Beck purposefully forgot he was invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. (but still invited MLK’s niece) because he believes in the same colorblindness that Martin Luther King, Jr….er, didn’t.

Notice (if you click through to the list) that Treacher doesn’t link to the text of the speech. That’s because it says stuff like this:

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

As much as it’s comforting to believe that the I Have A Dream speech began 80% of the way in with King’s sonorous voice ringing out parallel exhortations over the Mall, there exists one small problem. He said a bunch of other things that really, really mattered.

The point of King’s work wasn’t that one day two dour white dudes would find the rarest black man of all – the one with a fanny pack – and take a picture with him in order to show other black people that they were angry and terrible. The point was that black people had legitimate and substantial grievances, and that they should be willing to take drastic steps to rectify them. The “content of their character” line was not a call for colorblindness, it was a call for progress with full cognizance of America’s sordid history and relationship with race.

There’s a reason none of the conservative “heirs” to King’s legacy can ever be bothered to read any but the last few lines of that speech. It’s because if they did, they would legitimize every person they’ve called a race hustler and poverty pimp since the march on Selma.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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