Thursday, April 30, 2015
Understanding Dr. King's Perspective on Civil Unrest
Civil unrests like the one in Baltimore sparked by the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray while police custody sends the camera activists and monarchs of exploitation running for Dr. Martin Luther King's vision on the situation at hand. During the week I heard countless references to King saying "a riot is the language of the unheard". Full stop. (Jamal Bryant I see you).
To be sure, Dr. King elaborated more in-depth on rioting and civil unrest. The flim flam artists of sound bytes (Don Lemmon I see you) and self-centered "expert analysts" do King a disservice by using snippets of his perspectives in an attempt to validate their shallow points of view. They also undermine the understanding of uprisings such as the recent ones in Baltimore by carelessly attaching Dr. King to them.
Here is one of Dr. King's uncut observations on riots.
"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention." - Dr. Martin Luther King
In that brief reflection, Dr. King gave us the formula to exterminate future civil unrests. He lays out very clearly why every time we have a Freddie Gray, or Michael Brown, we will have civil backlash.
The media and its cherry picked analysts won't deliver the whole of King's perspective because they would have to admit that the causes of civil unrest lies outside the neighborhoods they physically take place in. Word to the unwise. Dr. King's radical politics, deep vision, and stirring words were born out of a man and a movement that served and succeeded at making life better for people. It's reckless and disrespectful to the man and his movement to reduce his teachings to ad generated biased reporting and ideologies.