Tag Archives: dignity

Free At Last

mlk-club-flyer

A club flyer for a MLK weekend party

On this day, Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 88 years old. I wrote this piece a few years back, but decided to re-post it, as its relevance still stands. 

On this day (January 15th) in 1929, one of our country’s  (and the world’s) greatest leaders was born. In 1963 at the March on Washington, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most (if not, THE most) powerful, most eloquent speeches known to man. King went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful efforts against US racism in 1964.

Among his most notable achievements — the things we (hopefully) learn about in schooling and in other outlets — are the turmoil, the setbacks and the degradation King and his contemporaries faced in a nation where their influence, their ideas, their livelihoods and their color were viewed with pure hate. All in the name of equality.

And here we are today — we as black folk can vote, we can use whatever restroom we want, drink from whichever water fountain we want, we can now attend the universities that were built by the blood, sweat and tears of our own enslaved ancestors — the same universities we were institutionally excluded from for much of the 20th century…you get the point. Things aren’t perfect, but we as a people have come a long way — all because of the sacrifices of King and others before us.

And how do we pay them back? Oh, by editing their pictures into club flyers, of course.

You may be thinking — “Lighten up, its not that bad,” or perhaps, “It’s just a joke, its not that serious.” But when we make these flyers, when we share them and use them to promote events — it becomes a little more damaging than a paper and a laugh. “FREE AT LAST,” reads the top of the flyer posted above. But what I’d like to ask everyone reading this is — Who is really free?

During slavery, blacks were degraded to the utmost degree — slaves that were talented were mocked and made to feel less than; slaves that were disadvantaged in some way or couldn’t perform as well as others were humiliated by slave owners as well, often given names of powerful Greek gods and goddesses, as a sarcastic gesture to poke fun at their powerlessness. Slave women were raped on a daily basis, sexually exploited and denied any sexual freedom at the hands of this very nation. Black bodies were deemed worthless and were put on display in slave auctions and other “events,” stripping slaves of their clothes…and their dignities.

I ask you again, WHO is really free?

In this flyer here (and in many, many others), King is “adorned” with a crown, gold chains and gold rings. Are we celebrating an African-American hero? Or are we making a mockery of this civil rights pioneer for our own “gains,” just as the slave owners did back in the day? It would be just like the actions of the slave owners, but in this instance, our own gains (promoting said party while promoting degradation of our men and women) are also our own losses (promoting said party while promoting degradation of our men and women). Damn, at least the slave owners even had enough sense about them to better themselves in the process.

Excuse my language and excuse my disgust. But this is an all time low for us, ya’ll.

I like to party. I like to joke. But I love my dignity 10 fold more than the former. Can we put a crown and some gold rings on that?

Free at last? More like last to be free.

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Weekly Wisdom: Love Yourself Girl…Or Nobody Will

J. Cole may have said it in Crooked Smile…but everybody and their momma needs to not only be saying it…but living it as well.

 

People always say in a romantic sense that you can’t expect to have a significant other love you if you don’t have that same love for yourself. But this notion of self-love can’t be limited to romance.

Self-love means a lot of things, to me. It means caring about you, inside and out. Acknowledging your true feelings, indulging in things you’re truly passionate about and respecting your morals, no matter who or what tries to persuade you to go against them. On the outside, it means putting time (although not too much time) into your outward appearance and taking care of your body, among other things.

It’s not always easy and we all slip up from time to time. But with time and some self-reflection (time by ourselves), we can do it. We’re all capable of loving ourselves. If we don’t do it, if we don’t love and respect ourselves, those around us (not just significant others/ love interests) won’t do it, either.

And what does that look like? Being called out your name. Becoming objectified and minimized to a sexual object. People losing respect for your space and your personal time. Those you care about ignoring your opinions and belittling your views. Negativity and doubtfulness being spewed out of the mouths of the ones you thought loved you the most…or even from complete strangers. You may not treat those around you so callously, but the way you approach yourself gives them the okay to treat you in such a way.

 

Don’t want to be treated like that? Look upon yourself with worth and with dignity. Do yourself a favor before you do anything  for anyone else, and love. Not the person you’ve been seeing, not your friend, not your neighbor or your co-worker…but the person staring back at you in the mirror. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

 

 

Peace, Love & Consciousness

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Kiara