Welcome back to the Quillegible blog of happiness! It’s Friday and you know what that means…Book Review Friday!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you also know that today marks the end of the 8 year era of the Obama Presidency and the beginning of the Trump Presidency.
Regardless of whether you support Trump or not, a new President coming into office is a huge deal, and a bit nerve wracking for good reason. The President is not able to make laws under our American Constitution (that’s for Congress) but the President does have the power to sign laws into power, veto laws (meaning to NOT sign them into law), and create Executive Orders.
And this is just the beginning of the complicated trio system that is our American Government. But we’re not here to have an AP Government lesson, we’re here for books. And since today is President Trump’s inauguration, I decided to pick up a book by one of the most legendary political figures and activists of the 20th century: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King Jr was a busy man in his later life. Between touring, speaking publicly, and meeting with other prominent political figures, Dr. King wrote a total of four books all focused on racial equality and equity between Americans.
His final book, Where do We Go from Here? Chaos and Community is the fourth and final installment of Dr. King’s writing before his untimely assassination in 1968. In it, Dr. King addresses common problems that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 hasn’t addressed and/or can’t address. Now the statistics he presented may have more or less changed, however, I read this book to learn Dr. King’s mindset and to try to apply his ideals to our modern day problems. This doesn’t just deal with racism anymore: this deals with every political problem under the sun.
After reading through and deciphering the wordy and meticulous book, Dr. King’s message for us is not only to have hope but to also have courage. In this time where nonviolent protests are a myth and life-threatening riots happen almost every day (especially after Trump became President-Elect), we all want to fire our guns at each other first and ask questions later or move to higher ground to avoid the flood of anger, hate, and dissappointment from fellow Americans.
First of all, Dr. King would suggest, neither of those solutions would work and here’s why (quoted from Chapter 2 “Black Power”):
“Black Power is an implicit and often explicit belief in black separatism…behind Black Power’s legitimate and necessary concern for group unity and black identity lies the belief that there can be a separate black road to power and fulfillment. Few ideas are more unrealistic. There is no salvation for the Negro through isolation.”
Why did I pick this quote? Consider it this way: to make a chicken noodle soup, you need more than just chicken and noodles. You also need chicken stock, certain spices, and so on. In addition if you add too much of one ingredient, it will overpower the rest of the soup and you’ve effectively ruined your lunch (dang, I’m hungry now!).
Same principle here: in the Black Power movement, Dr. King warned that Black Power should not try to overpower Whites because it is an unrealistic goal and it is basically stooping to the level of the Negro oppressors. Nowadays, if we want to avoid fellow Americans, we’re basically getting rid of a vital soup ingredient. Or if we want to shoot first and ask questions later, that basically means we’re trying to change the recipe ourselves, but why would you want to change chicken noodle soup?! It’s chicken noodle soup!
We can’t solve our problems ourselves, it’s basically impossible. We need to have the courage and the hope to be able to gather in the kitchen and be able to create the best chicken noodle soup ever. That means all of the ingredients need to be included, regardless of which ingredient you are.
(Okay, time to get off the chicken noodle soup for the soul soap box…I’m starving now!)
So if we can’t shoot our problems away or hide in the shadows, then what can we do? For Dr. King, I’d imagine he would recommend two things: the first is a change of perspective.
No, I’m not asking for anti-Trump people to suddenly be Trump’s #1 fans, nor am I asking for Trump’s #1 fans to suddenly be anti-Trump people. That would be illegal, immoral, and illogical. What I’m saying comes from Chapter 5 of Dr. King’s book:
“None of us can pretend that he knows all the answers. It is enormously difficult for any oppressed people even to arrive at an awareness of their latent strengths. They are not only buffeted by defeats, but they have been schooled assiduously to believe in their lack of capacity.”
In other words, there’s no such thing as a right answer, and we are certainly not always right. Whether we are oppressed or not, Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter! In order to share ideas, we have to arrive at the conclusion that our ideas are not always right, and that we will still have defeats even if we believe we are capable. Capable of what? That’s for us to figure out together as the American people. If we want to progress, we can progress. We just need to remind ourselves that we are still capable. If we want to stay where we are, safe in our traditions and our values, we are capable of doing that too. It’s not dependent on him, her, or them: it’s dependent on all of us.
Coming from the same chapter, Chapter 5, comes the second recommendation:
“More white people learned more about the shame of America, and finally faced some aspects of it, during the years of nonviolent protest than during the century before. Nonviolent direct action will continue to be a significant source of power until it is made irrelevant by the presence of justice.”
In other words, if you’re a huge fan of riots and want to hurt people just to get your message across, then I hate to break it to you, but it’s not working. Never had, never will. Same with school shootings, police brutality, rape, robberies, and murder, to name a few. I digress by mentioning these other atrocious acts (though if you really think that rape and police brutality aren’t problems, you need to see a therapist pronto).
Why fight with fists when you can fight with words? Granted self-defense is a necessity and Dr. King does point that out, but again, by going beyond self-defense and looking to hurt someone that you stoop to the level of the opposition and, in the long run, you accomplish nothing.
If we do want to protest, let’s use the method that works: together or not at all.
Have any great books you’d like me to review? Hit me up on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or let me know on the Contacts page. I’d love to hear from you!