Dreaming with a Broken Heart – For Dr. King

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ” Martin Luther King Jr.

Top 10 Black Americans Net Worth Education vs.

                                                        Top 10 White Americans Net Worth Education

#1 Oprah   2.7 Bil   BA TN State  Bill Gates  59 Bil Harvard Dropout

#2 Robert Johnson  500 Mil MA Princetion Warren Buffet 39 Bil  Multiple Ivy Degrees

#3 P Diddy 500 Mil None Larry Ellison 33 Bil Urbana and UC dropout

#4 Tiger Woods  500 Mil  Standford Dropout  Charles Koch   25 Bil  MIT (BA, MA)

#5 Michael Jordan 500 Mil UNC  David Koch  25 Bil  MIT (BA,MA)

# 6 Magic Johnson 500 Mil Michigan Dropout Christy Walton 24.5 Bil U of Arkansas

#7 Jay Z 450 Mil Did not finish HS George Soros 22 Bil London School of Econ

#8 Bill Cosby 450 Mil PhD Education Sheldon Adelson 21.5 Bil City College NY

#9 Shelia Johnson (ex #2) 400 Mil  BA U of Illinois Jim Walton 21.1 Bil University of Arkansas

#10 Tyler Perry 350 Mil GED Alice Walton 20.9 Bil Trinity University

How’s that for equality?

On America’s list of wealthiest people – Oprah our wealthiest black person shows up for the first time at number 139.

I would like to add that other than my horror at how many times the University of Arkansas appears on the far right hand column (and in my own home – WPS) when using the ever trustworthy WIKI to find black america’s education history, rarely was there even the alma mater reference that there was on EVERY SINGLE white american’s biography. Infuriating.

Now I can understand if a discrepancy in millionaires and billionaires doesn’t infuriate you. But does it infuriate you that what this message sends to children of color is that to make money in this world if you are of color you need to make it on BET or play sports and to make it in white america you can be anything? It enrages me.

Sheila Johnson (#9) said, “It’s [success in black america] not about education, it’s about entertainment and it’s destroying hope for real progress.” (2008 Interview for her Charity CARE) We tell kids that they can have the American dream, but the truth is that they can’t. We continue to live in segregated societies where we are more interested in peace that equality and if you don’t believe me, take a look at these statistics from the most recent numbers released by Bureau of Labor Statistics:

10.8% of white american families live in poverty

24.7% of black american families live in poverty

the average income of a white american family? $53,356    

What the average black american family makes – $33,255

More disturbingly the BLS reports that during an economic downturn the black underclass is disproportionately hit, they are “the last hired and the first fired.”

Now, most of my readers are white america. Before you go getting all worked up about the unfairness of it all and decide to go “move into the neighborhood” and “make a difference” and “integrate” and things like that… I am not telling you not to. I am not telling you to do anything. I have no business to tell you anything. I am simply offering you some numbers. I can tell you, that after participating in the Exploring Transfer Program this summer at Vassar, I would encourage you to read this article by Marilyn Frye: On Being White BEFORE you do take any action – or maybe even speak – Lord knows I wish I had… It’s not easy reading, but it offers a perspective on Intersectionality that white women don’t often have exposed to them outside of classes like the one I was in. I often thought back to that part of Letters from a Birmingham Jail when Dr. King says,

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

If you’ve never read the full text, though filled with DEEPLY RELIGIOUS themes, I LOVE King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, it is the origin of his famous line, which Robert Kennedy often quoted, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I think another compelling statement about the true state of our culture and the reality of where we are is Bill Cosby’s speech at the 50th Anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education.

You may be asking yourself – is she really saying that we haven’t really seen progress? I believe we have seen some steps in the right direction. But I believe what we have seen is appeasement. Again, before everyone starts posting long diatribes to my facebook wall about a class you were in in grad school OR runs out and starts advocating and protesting – please read Marilyn Frye’s article. I do not personally believe it is the white man’s job to offer ‘benevolent and kind change to all we have oppressed’ (a la Uncle Tom’s Cabin), it is our job to look hard at ourselves and ask ourselves hard questions about the way we see the world, the way we define “equality”, if we really want equality, and to start with our own lives. (If you’re doing great – then awesome, don’t rant against me, pat yourself on the back and move on.) In case I am not being blunt, people of color have plenty of strength and capacity to fight and solve and form solutions without us running in and offering planning sessions and strategy meetings. I promise. If you don’t believe me, email me and I will send you the link to a recent 172 post chain on the JP community board regarding a ‘racial reconciliation meeting’… It should clear it all up for you.

Lastly I want to address a little paragraph in King’s letter –

“If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

Now the Tea Party (not the Boston Tea Party – that was different and I am almost sure that one involved nudity) would love to contend that King meant this as a return to family values. I would like to remind all of you that are touting Kings name around today like you did our beloved Tim Tebow’s this weekend, that MLK Jr was no Tim Tebow. He was an adulterous lying, terror of a husband. We have tapes of his sexcapades and undeniable proof of his horrific adulterous affairs. Tim Tebow, on the other hand, is one hell of a man. This is unquestionable, he is changing the world he lives in, and lives that he interacts with on a daily basis and he is public about his love for Jesus and he seeks to live a morally pure life. MLK Jr changed the WORLD, he continues to change lives, leave a legacy, impact people for Jesus, and preach from the grave, even to the church, and he lived a morally impure life – even as he wrote this letter and delivered his famous I have a Dream speech.

I am not advocating adultery or immorality, but kindness and graciousness. We love to idolize people we see as perfect and scandalize and burn at the stake people who make mistakes. Get over it, we’re all human. I’ve read Gandhi’s biography, the guy was a total ass to his wife. The point is not that he was perfect, it is that he was an advocate for change, and effective. The lesson? Spend less time asking for perfection from ourselves and others and more time working for change.

OK? Great. Let’s to it.

There’s plenty of work to be done.

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