In Memoriam, Martin Luther King: 45 years later, Blacks still enslaved

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love.”


Martin Luther King, Nobel Prize Acceptance speech, 1964

This week we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday.  He would have been 84.  There are tributes and speeches.  After all, we have a (sort of) African-American President.

1968 and beyond

King was murdered in 1968 – what an incredible, tumultuous year.  Anti-war hysteria and conflict.  The disastrous Democratic convention in Chicago.  And TWO political assassinations (Bobby Kennedy, remember?).

First there was JFK in 1963.  It seems that one assassination establishes, at least in the minds of other psychotics, that taking out a major political figure is a way of making a statement, redeeming a useless life, impressing Jodie Foster, or whatever.  Political murder became legitimate, if only briefly.

I’m glad it’s gone out of style in America.  We have enough external enemies to deal with.  Bush found a way to make himself assassination-proof: Cheney.  I always thought of Cheney as Bush’s assassination insurance.  Who wants a President who’s worse than the jerk you killed?

The progress that Blacks have made since 1968 is truly impressive.  Much of the reason why they endured 100 years of Jim Crow after slavery was government – the racist politicians who pandered to racist voters, allowed segregation to stay in place, and refused to lead bigoted whites out of it by proposing the kind of bold changes that the civil rights movement had to initiate.

It was the federal government that reversed the situation, but only after the brave and sustained protests of Dr. King and his contemporaries.  Politicians are followers, not leaders. 

And can you imagine, some elements of American society were so enraged at the thought of Black equality that they murdered Dr. King, as if that would end it?  Such murder is vile – and futile.  You can “decapitate” a movement, but it still lives.

How America used to be

I CAN imagine that kind of hatred.  I grew up in an America where Blacks and Jews knew their place.  My father had two Black pharmacists working for him.  He was the only druggist in town who would give them jobs.

Outrageous truth

But in college, I really found out the truth.  I read the works of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and others, as research for my Honors Thesis, a study of African-American dialect in literature. 

The books were an eye-opener.  Up to then, I really did not know what was going on: the terror, the violence, the lynchings, the countless everyday insults and humiliations big and small. Separate drinking fountains and movie seats. No Blacks in the major sports leagues.  How the fuck could these things happen in America?

As a jazz musician, I was and am particularly outraged at the treatment of Black artists, restricted from countless performance venues, abused by the police (because of drug prohibition), and generally denied the recognition due them (eventually, that changed). 

The mind and career of Bud Powell, an early jazz piano genius, were ruined by a police beating.  Just one more victim of the race hatred that poisoned America for so long.

So the persistence of Blacks and the indignation of whites at the suffering of their fellow Americans eventually brought the government into it, to FINALLY grant Black Americans the privilege of “liberty and justice for all.”

Still enslaved

Yet Blacks remain enslaved.  As Jesse Jackson might say, the freedom process is not yet complete.

They remain enslaved to the double standard and racial preferences promoted by the government.  The smiley faces of “diversity” and “affirmative action” are everywhere the rule in corporate and academic America.  After 30 years of it, after a whole generation has grown up with it, shouldn’t things be about equal by now?  When is enough enough?

Diversity is a HUGE business, with many consultants and publications.  I received an e-version of Diversity Business, which caused in me the same disgust and revulsion as would a similar communication from the Aryan Nation or the KKK (with chirpy articles like “Ten More Reasons Why It’s Right to be White”). 

But at least you can ignore these groups.  No one is forced to pay attention to them, whereas MANY employees (some, I promise you, inwardly sullen) do have to go through communist-style “Diversity Awareness” training.

In many large corporations, "Diversity" is one of a manager's performance goals, right up there with profit and loss and other actual business objectives.  Companies brag about their numbers of Blacks, Hispanics and women, as dog breeders would boast of prize hounds in their kennel.  Sharp Black or Hispanic women can practically write their own ticket.  In the diversity tally, they count double!

In addition, governments and companies have “minority supplier programs” or “supplier diversity programs” that discriminate against white male enterprises, small businesses, and consultants.  A large company can have hundreds or thousands of such suppliers.  That’s a lot of discrimination and a lot of fatuous self-congratulation.

Race hatred

It is inhumane and reprehensible to make white males pay for the past sins of other white males.  It is the same kind of race hatred we Jews have experienced for centuries.  It is the kind of self-righteous vengeance that Dr. King abhorred.

Blacks continue to be enslaved to their second-class status and the notion that they need special treatments and standards.  How are they ever going to get the respect they need and deserve if they can never shake the suspicion that their race was a factor in their success? 

Double standard continued indefinitely?

So…now that a (sort of) Black man occupies the Oval Office, how long can we expect the double standard to continue?  As long as it benefits the politicians who play to Blacks’ sense of helplessness and entitlement to government rescue?  Well, that’s forever.  As long as there’s a racist thought or perceived racial slight in America?  That too will be forever.

I’m with Milton Friedman.  Companies should obey the law, create jobs, and make money.  That’s quite enough.  They are not social-engineering organizations.

American companies waste tons of time and money on diversity activities and on recruiting minorities; all of this useless expenditure (including “diversity conferences” and much else) takes resources and energy away from the actual business and makes companies LESS competitive in a global marketplace that doesn’t give a damn about “proportional representation.”

Blacks should stop pretending they can’t do it without special benefits.  Black intellectual achievement and entrepreneurship go back to the 19th century, at least.  Read up on John Johnson, one of the greatest Black businessmen ever. Or Bessie Coleman, the aviatrix. There were many others.  (Fact check: Many Black “firsts” and accomplishments are open to question and dispute.  But many are undisputably real.)

Blacks already have tremendous successes everywhere in American life, AND, very importantly, because of that success, there’s now a huge number of professional organizations that educate, sponsor, network, mentor, and promote ONLY BLACKS.  There are associations of Black lawyers, doctors, accountants/finance people — groups for practically every profession.  Can you imagine if white people did the same?  If Hispanics can combine dozens of nationalities under one label for political purposes, why can’t we?

Enough already.  The mechanism for even more Black success is in place.  But as long as Black people continue to depend on government and white guilt, much of that success is and will be tainted.


Elimination of all special preferences is the key to what Blacks seek: success WITH RESPECT (as in merit-based pursuits like sports and the arts).  People should be judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin – remember Dr. King saying that?

The other chain that drags Black people down is their religion.  Unfortunately, there’s even less hope of change here than in politics and the workplace. 

People whose situation is desperate, who lose faith that there is an end to suffering and indignity in this world, take refuge in fantasy.  Jews have done it too.  They give up on reality and people – which is most unfortunate, since that is the only way Black salvation has ever taken place.

Black salvation

If brave civil rights workers had not stood up to the fire hoses in Selma, Alabama…Jesus or Mary would not have done it for them.  Martin Luther King put himself in the line of fire, but Jesus didn’t take the bullet for him.  God did not deliver Blacks from slavery – or Jews from Hitler.

Not that Black churches don’t do good things.  The impulse for civil rights came from the churches, among other places – and it’s really a shame that people couldn’t figure out for themselves that we’re all created equal, but had to rely on ancient authorities and the accompanying myths.  Plus, all that time spent singing and talking to Jesus could be devoted to improving society and the world.

Morality and myth

But now Blacks are wedded to the morality AND the myths.  For most Blacks, they’re inseparable. 

You go to church to learn to be good AND to talk to and sing about God and Jesus.  The overpoweringly emotional music and hypnotic cadences of the preacher (which King used so well) help make sure of that.

There are a few Black freethinkers who know that Blacks’ salvation lies in themselves and their fellow human beings – not imaginary deities and hypocritical politicians. 

When they realize this, they will achieve the freedom that Dr. King dreamed of.  Until then, the government and the Black clergy, in exchange for all the false reassurances and paternalistic benefits, will keep them subordinate and dependent.  

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Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 15, 2013 at 1:32pm

Alan, I was being sarcastic, but you're right, at least African-Americans get affirmative action. No such luck for the poor white class.

Comment by Alan Perlman on January 15, 2013 at 1:00pm

To Jedi...There's affirmative action for whites?  Unless you mean special advantages for poor whites, that's a new one on me.


To Loren...You and I know that God/Jesus has nothing to do with Black achievement or liberation, but what's important is that THEY think he does.  Time and again I've watched them credit the deity for what they as people have done.  Maybe they actually believe it, or maybe the connection is so reinforced culturally that they think they have to say it.

To Nap...Thanks for the visual reminder.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on January 15, 2013 at 12:22pm

White people and people of all ethnicities now receive all the benefits of slavery too. Thank you massah!

Comment by Loren Miller on January 15, 2013 at 12:09pm

I heard on the news the other day that a new president of the local chapter of the NAACP was just sworn into office ... at a church, complete with church choir singing praises during the ceremony.

Granted, I'm not black, but from my external perspective, it seems as though black culture and black religion are all but welded together, next to inseparable.  The above example is typical (to me, anyway) of how closely related the two are.  It was that association which was originally used to justify the enslavement of African-Americans back then and now in some cases it holds them servile to a non-existent god who is supposed to deliver them from their second-class status.  Certainly there are plenty of black people who have soared to great accomplishments in the US and elsewhere.  I would wonder at how many can truthfully credit their religion as a primary factor in their achievements and how many gained their success DESPITE those beliefs or in complete disregard of them.

You can accuse me of not having a full grasp on the whole cultural thing, and you may well be right.  Still, from where I sit, until black culture can establish itself independent from ANY church, the issue of black freedom or lack thereof will just keep on keepin' on...

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