It seems some folks need a history lesson. Or maybe a simple lesson on cultural dignity will do.
Images of fliers for events that are supposed to be honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, which falls on Jan. 15., and is celebrated on Monday, Jan. 20., are being circulated on social media.
That wouldn’t be a bad thing if those fliers included quotes from his speeches, and were adding a digital edge to the causes that King fought for before an assassin gunned him down 44 years ago.
It wouldn’t be a bad thing if those fliers were advertising seminars or parties with a purpose toward getting younger black people to believe in their own power to end rampant unemployment, mass incarceration, and other problems that disproportionately dog them.
What’s been spreading on social media like gangrene on a wound festering with ignorance and indifference are fliers that depict Dr. King in ways that glorify the shallowness that leads some black people to do things that fuel their own oppression and exploitation.
One supremely silly flier depicts King with a crown on his head and ropes of gold around his neck, accompanied by images of Nicki Minaj.
Apparently, whoever created that flier didn’t get the memo that one of the last efforts that King spearheaded was a Poor People’s Campaign. Or that King gave away most of his life’s earnings, including the $54,600 he won for the Nobel Peace Prize, to the movement.
That’s how much of a baller he was not.
Another flier shows King wearing a huge gold medallion and black T-shirt and pointing to an advertisement that says, “Freedom 2 Twerk… Martin Luther King Day Weekend Party.”
And yet another one says: “B.O.S.S. N.I.G.G.A.Z.’s presents…Bad Bitch Sundays…The Official I Have A Dream Bash.” It depicts King spreading a wad of cash in his fingers, with a stripper in the background.
Again, somebody didn’t get the memo. King liked women, but chances are he didn’t refer to them as bitches. And I’m almost certain he would have something to say about the N.I.G.G.A.Z. thing.
The cash he would have given away, not flaunted.
But while these folks obviously didn’t get the memo, chances are they wouldn’t have cared if they had.
Sadly, they probably believe it’s easier to make a buck by exploiting some black people’s immaturities than to come up with creative ways to educate and entertain them.
The net result is that by doing this, by wrongly depicting King as a baller whose life is defined by women and money, the people making these fliers and hosting these events feed into the mentality that tells young black people, and black men especially, to eschew education for the quick buck, or to rob or steal to buy expensive sneakers and jewelry, because materialism and foolishness is what should define them.
These depictions of King are also offensive in that they assume black people are so shallow that the only way they can relate to this civil rights icon is through events that are the polar opposite of what he stood for.
All I can say is that’s sad.
And that it’s a good thing that King had more confidence in the strength and intelligence of black people than the folks behind those fliers.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.