Friday, November 03, 2006

Uh hello...who do you think you're talking to?

I know that a lot of white people don't think Martin Luther King did anything special. Okay, that's their own opinion. I mean, I guess they think that our freedom was inevitable. Hmmm.

Whatever. This isn't a political blog post or anything. But I had to relate what happened at work yesterday. [white] co-worker starts asking if I knew anything about the company we work for recently declaring the MLK holiday in January a new company holiday. As in, paid day off. MLK day was never recognized by the company before. By the way, I think it has something to do with a new black woman big-wig. Sweet.

So anyway, Coworker chick starts telling ME, how ridiculous it was that we close the office for Martin Luther King day. 'I mean, I'm not saying he wasn't a great person or anything, but if it wasn't him fighting for civil rights, it would have been someone else. They [the company] doesn't need to close the office for it'.

Do I look white to her?

Why would she say that to ME? A black person? I mean, does that even make sense?


Heidi said...

It doesn't make sense, and this woman doesn't know her history if she thinks MLK only worked for civil rights for black people. Tell her that celebrating MLK celebrates non-violence and that celebrating MLK celebrates the right to critique our nation.

And then ask her why we should celebrate George Washington's birthday on Feb. 21, when if he hadn't been the first president, someone else would.

Troutdale Councilor Canfield said...

What was your response to your co-worker?

silver said...

For an interesting view on HBCUs, see:

Chris Osborne said...

That Black Girl,

There's a high probability that your coworker may have committed what is called a "microaggression" against you. A microaggression is a situation in which a White person makes a brief and flippant remark to a Black person which figuratively "spills the beans" about a racial resentment which they ordinarily keep obscured within themselves. Another example of this is if a White person tells a Black person that the White community is suffering supposedly terrible economic losses because of affirmative action, despite A.A. being only a minimalist opportunity transfer program.
As I am a member of the White community myself, I can state that the way White people view the King Holiday has changed but continues to reflect the belief that he is not "our" hero and a general American hero. Back in 1986 when the King Holiday became general within the country, numerous Whites objected to the economic losses which would be incurred by businesses and the public sector for giving workers an additional day off. But by two years later the attitude within the White community had changed, with people saying "it's nice to have a holiday set aside just for 'them.'"
Thus the White community's new take on the King Holiday reflects racial paternalism. He is seen as "your" hero but not as "our" hero. This posture will probably worsen with the passage of time, because when Dr. King's political turn to the Left late in his life becomes more widely known, this will increase a sense of alienation from him as an historical figure within the White community--which remains basically conservative.

--Chris Osborne,
Pessimist/Cynic's History and Politics Blog.

Anonymous said...

MLK was a socialist and plagiarized his doctoral thesis. time to find a new role model.

Anonymous said...

Heidi: to be fair, most companies I've worked for don't give you Geo. Washington's birthday off either, even though it is a federal holiday. It's definitely considered one of the more minor federal holidays.

But, yeah, this co-worker is clearly all about some just-barely-hiding-under-the-surface racism.

Skeezix said...

Martin Luther King was a great man and if a private company wants to acknowledge that by closing shop for his birthday that's great!

I don't know where you work but it sounds like you have had a number of weird run-ins with the yahoo that made that remark.

By the way, I would have been offended by your co-workers remark. You don't have to be black to appreciate a man that fights for human rights. We are all human no matter what color our skin is.

It's just like saying, "Jesus is nothing special, if He didn't save our souls then someone else would have."

Not everyone has the courage like Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and MLK to stand against all odds and say enough, the line has been drawn in the sand.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with many of these blessed souls in the United States.

Anonymous said...

He was a really great guy, very courageous and all that, not a regular guy by any means, and then he got assasinated for what he was doing.

Tabulee said...

There is something wrong with that woman. I'm a white female. Fu*k anyone who discounts what MLK did for this country, his faults notwithstanding (I'd LOVE to know what skeletons live in the closets of his critics!) We NEED the day off, if only to remind rude white people that they're not the center of the universe.

D said...

MLK, Jr. is one of my biggest heroes.

He started with something that was wrong, took action, and made it better. He made the world a better place.

"Coworker chick" is clueless.

girlpower27 said...

As a white Jewish woman and mother I have tried to teach my kids about the Civil Rights movement and MLK as American hero who helped make the founding principle of the US - equality - more of a reality. A few years ago I took my girls to an MLK Day Parade and was one of the only white families in a large crowd. I think people like to "whitewash" the past and ignore the impact of the Civil Rights movement - would the women's been so strong in the 70's if not preceded by the struggles of the 60's?

I am up writing 'cause I can't sleep over some issues happening at my work. I would agree with the post about microaggression and googling that term got me to this blog. I also would question the connection between the comment and the new Black woman in a position of power. I think it must have felt threatening to the white co-worker, a minority in that position, thinking from a minority perspective. I am not saying that a comment like that couldn't occur in a social situation, but I would look at the comment in context.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. The lady wasn't being racist toward you or MLK. It seems like any remark made by a white person to a black person is viewed, somehow, as being racist. I'm so sick of it...