Today I’m off work for the MLK Holiday, and I’m thankful for that. I can use the rest. I’m also dismayed by the day.
Rev. King was killed in Memphis while he was there supporting the sanitation workers who were striking. I walked out my front door today to see the rows of emptied trash bins, evidence that while I was sleeping in, the sanitation workers in my town were up long before dawn, working. People are at work right now, making nowhere near a living wage at WalMart, Burger King, gas stations, coffee shops, hotels, janitorial services and nearly every retail or service industry job, while a handful of us rest. Or worse, shop.
The president is being sworn in today with his hands on Dr. King’s Bible. Dr. Cornel West expresses everything that is wrong with that, and does it far better than I can.
So we celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by letting a privileged few off work while those who labor and still make poverty wages are ignored. We celebrate King’s agitation for peace by having the leader of the world’s largest killing force, a man who murders by order and by robot, falsely associate himself with King’s vision and King’s faith by placing his hands on the Rev. King’s Bible.
We do nothing to stop war. We do nothing to end poverty. We ignore the basic humanity of people near and far. Yet we can feel good about ourselves, because there’s a day on the calendar to honor a man who did all the work that we refuse to.
God bless Martin Luther King, Jr. May his legacy never die and his words never fall silent. God damn the empty holiday that bears his name.