Martin Luther King Day and California African American Museum Virtual TALK
This past Monday was Martin Luther King Day, As a child some of my early memories from school was learning about Martin Luther King, Civil rights, and having to write essays about the importance of equality. Of course being a child my mind did not have a full grasp of the concepts. Though living in California, I have met people who may appreciate what my child mind thought of as important. I wanted to give SEALS civil rights and make it unlawful for humans to kill them for their fur. I was not a vegan at the time. I was just against animal cruelty. Part of me thinks I did not get it, but at the same time I kind of did. Animals do deserve to not be abused. I wonder how Martin Luther King would feel today about Climate change and if he would be a vegan if he lived today?
As an adult I have typically tried to volunteer on MLK day. The pandemic has made volunteering dangerous for me. So I decided to join an online virtual talk hosted by the CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN museum. I have actually never been to the museum. I had planned on going right before the pandemic started. I do not go to the area where the Museum is located often. It is near USC in California. Before the new metro in Los Angeles it was a bit more difficult to get to. Now it is not far from a Metro stop so I hope to make it to the museum in the future. Perhaps this summer when hopefully Covid will be in check.
The online event consisted of listening to Martin Luther Kind give his 1967 speech “A Christmas Sermon on Peace” and a discussion. The chat room was disabled so the discussion consisted of participants raising their hand and commenting. I raised my had but they ran out of time so I think I will make my comments here. Also after the speech there was a performance of the “Inner CIty Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles” (ICYOLA).
I have had a stalker who says I talk about me and only me. But art is subjective. Opinions are biased and I feel like sharing part of myself with the world is HONEST. Plus should I talk about others and be their voice. I have worked as a journalist for Examiner.com and various other art publications. I am listed in MUCKRACK. But because of online abuse and because of social isolation I decided to make it clear that ARTISTIC HOPE is me. It is another projection of my person. I wanted to keep it 3rd person but with people attacking me as an ARTIST I decided to come out into the light as the VOICE of this blog. I am giving my opinion. Every choice I make as a writer is influenced by my own inner perspective. I can not talk about MLK’s speech from the perspective of an African American. It would be dishonest of me to even try. But if I had been given the chance to speak I would have said that blacks are not the only people who experience slavery. It is still in existence today. In fact according to the International Labor Organization, agency of the United Nations, one in four slaves today are children and 71% of modern slaves are women or girls. We have not moved past slavery. I want us to move past racism and to see that there are other evils in the world today. We have replaced slavery of the black man with slavery of 50 percent of the population. We women are objects and not people. Yet we are intelligent, educated, capable and worthy of autonomy and self respect. The Patriarchy needs to be destroyed for freedom to really exist in the world.
I did not think about slavery while listening to the speech. My first thought was that if MLK was alive today he would probably give a speech on the dangers of Fascism. Much to my surprise MLK did talk about Germany and Hitler. MLK lived through WW2. He was born in 1929. Much of his speech was about history and he pointed to powerful leaders how used horrible means to take power. The over all message was that ends never justify the means. I did not hear MLK mention one bible verse though he did talk about how a God created all of us. I wonder how he would feel about secularists and people who do not believe there is a GOD or at least not one in our image? He also talked about how we should all get along. He pointed out that Chinese, Russians, all of us should live in peace. Many Chinese are not believers of the God of Abraham.
I woke up late on Monday. I did my laundry and while listening to the speech I did my makeup, put away my clothes and made pancakes. I wonder if while doing these virtual events people can see you. I was paying attention but I needed to get things done to start my day. Someone on the post talk said they took notes. I did not. I just wanted to live the experience. I did not want to treat it like a class and overanalyze it. I wanted to live and feel the speech as if I had been there when it was first given. After the speech I did sit down and listen to the discussion. I was encouraged by the speech. MLK did not talk race. He talked about humanity. He talked about how we all need to get along. I think he understood that to end racism we all need to see each other as HUMAN. But listening to the discussion after I felt as if I was an outsider. The very first person was a member of the AGAPE church, which MLK did use that word. MLK was using the word AGAPE from the GREEK and it means UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Today there is a religion called AGAPE and well from my perspective it is a cult and cults and organized religion are adding to the division and hate in the world, and not creating peace. Part of the growing Fascism in America is rooted in Christian Judeo nationalism.
If I had been given the chance to speak I would have said that MLK would have been upset with the growing FASCISM today. I have felt hatred for being white, but I have also felt hatred for being white and not wealthy but educated. Back east where I am from I would be given trust and respect as an educated woman. But in Los Angeles I have felt as if I am not being given respect for the last decade. People have been expecting me to work in the ARTS without even caring that my art is not DRAWING OR VISUAL but active. I am an actor. I was a PERFORMING ARTS management student, not a museum studies student. My own parents want everyone to think I am not educated or important and they are GOP. But every person has the right to feel significant. It is when one person wants to humble another that we have toxic behavior. Someone wanting to bring me down is not making me feel like I am less than they are. They are showing me they are not empathetic or understanding but wanting to hurt me to feel better. THAT IS THE DEFINITION of being NARCISSIST. A need to cut others down to raise one self up.
I think that the most important messsage from MLK is that human dignity is important. The problems today are cloaked in old biases but the real problems are of class. It is not color that is really dividing people, but class and wealth. I would add that according to my DNA I am 1% Nigerian, 1% Congolese and 1% Senegalese. I had ancestors who were slaves. I do not think we can ignore that ownership of people is wrong but we also need to realize that it exists today still. There is a growing climate of narcissism in the world and a twisted view on bullying. Many of the victims of abuse are being silenced. I have experienced this toxic form of online behavior where people of an opposing view or group intentionally follow and troll you to push you into a state of antagonism. If I have it out in the world I am a democrat it does not matter what my parents are, I am a democrat and I will never be bullied into taking the red pill.
I do not judge my friends on the color of skin or place of birth. I chose my friends based on whether they respect my intelligence and my person. Respect is not interfering in goals or dreams. For me art and the first amendment and my ability to have a voice and to choose who I connect to is incredibly important. Anyone interfering with my ability to reach out and share to the world my existence and opinions is not a friend. We cannot have peace when we mistake standing up to a bully as bullying. We cannot have peace when the means used do not create a just end. For me to have justice for wrongs committed to me I need to be able to be my best self. I do not have an existence without my art and my imagination. Life has taught me that to have peace how we each feel about ourselves is just as important as how we feel about others. For me to want to build a peaceful world, I need to love the person I am. The declaration of the UNITED STATES says we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think to have peace we need to have hope we can achieve happiness. We need to know that there is a door in our future we will enter that will give us the joy we need to want to connect and love each other. I am an introvert. I like being alone. I find I live peacefully in solitude when I have hope I can find ways to be an actor and artist. I want to do little things to make the world better when I have peace and joy in my life. We cannot achieve peace by force feeding the world a uniform lifestyle. We have to find a way to respect individuals as individuals.
Finally MLK gave a sermon on peace, but he did not sermonize. He did not berate humanity as evil. Rather he seemed to deliver the message that we have the power to be good if we chose the right actions in life. I have felt like I have been at war for a decade and yet I have not raised a weapon against my fellow. Violence is pointless. My weapon has been the old tested and true “pen” or well in this day and age it is the key board I use to type these words. For me peace is achieved by understanding that each person is different and yet we all are lives of value. We all have artistic gifts. It is violent to impose ones will on the life of another. Peace must be nurtured with healthy love. I have my voice and I raise it up to be heard. It is not an act of violence. It is not necessary for everyone to hear me or agree. But I will write and if you read me I hope you see my intentions are noble. we need noble acts that add up to a peaceful future. We need to see that the categories we use to classify each other are less important than the fact we are all HUMAN and deserving of LOVE. Love is not possession or control. The means of being loved are just as important as the feeling of love. My parents say they love me but I do not feel it. Instead I feel TRAPPED and terrified by their presence in my life. You cannot gain real healthy love through abuse or violent means. May we manage to stay healthy and find inspiration for creative endeavors in 2022 that brings the world together and allow each of us to be our best selves.