Ever wished you can be a fly on the wall for certain conversations? Sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you wish for. I found myself as one of very few brothers in a room full of other folks, and because of my attire, I was a fly on the wall. When you’re in a situation like that, it’s best to just play the wall, and that was where I felt most comfortable. Observation and listening was my motive, but I knew by the way the conversation was flowing that the floor would soon be mine. Showtime!
The subject of regression and progress in America was in the air. Low-key disses were directed at Obamacare and unemployment numbers were bantered about, and then the conversation shifted to the impending holiday in observation of the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The consensus was that he was a great man, especially because of how he died for his beliefs.
I wondered aloud about his beliefs. Justice and equality were a few of his beliefs, but were they the only ones he harbored? What if he believed that he was going to see his children graduate or he was believed that he and his wife were gonna celebrate their 50th anniversary in grand fashion? True, he was an icon, but was he not also a man? The others were quick to avoid that conversation, so a smooth transition to the next topic occurred.
“Did you hear about the biopic movie on Dr. King that was planned?” someone asked. “That should be good and timely, especially with the success of films like ‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘The Butler,’ ‘The Help,’ and ‘Django [Unchained].’”
Well, the breaking news was that acclaimed Oscar Award-winning director Oliver Stone had stepped down from the director’s seat for the forthcoming project, and he took to social media to explain. In a series of tweets, Stone said, “Sad news. My MLK project involvement has ended. I did an extensive rewrite of the script, but the producers won’t go with it. The script dealt with issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement and King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being. I’m told the estate and the ‘respectable’ Black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man and the truth. I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.
“Martin, I grieve for you. You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans—but, thank God, not a saint.”
With Jamie Foxx and Steven Spielberg’s names attached to the project, everyone has labeled it a “can’t miss” film. Here I go again, though: I reminded one of the gentlemen who was in agreement with Stone that while King wasn’t scared to die, as he once said, “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important,” he didn’t necessarily want to die at 40. Unfortunately, he was murdered. Let’s not forget that. A young Black male was physically taken from the earth by way of murder. Why do we need to besmirch or even assassinate his character as well? We can’t or shouldn’t run that risk. To avoid bias, it should be by us, ya dig
To punctuate the point, I even threw in a King quote: “White America has an uncanny way of making the victim the victimizer. Excuse me, master, for putting my head in the way of your club. Not that your club is brutalizing my head. My head got in the way of your free swing and broke your shiny stick, and I want to apologize for that.”
Granted, it was Don King who said that, but it was a King nonetheless.
Over and out, y’all. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.