Carving Black Defiance in Stone

| Wed May 21, 2008 10:27 AM EDT

How ironic that just as the Jeremiah Wright flap is dying down, we find yet another instance of America insisting that its black folk be happy. Or, failing that, demonized and rejected.

The long awaited, hotly fought for Mall memorial to Dr. King has encountered a hitch: the Chinese sculptor commissioned for the project (and didn't that piss Negroes off!) has submitted plans for a statue which is "too confrontational" and makes King look more like "the head of a socialist state than a civil rights leader". King's not smiling (weird, since that's how we all remember him.) so King is Stalin. Please.

You see, folks, as planned, King looks like a judge, intense and determined, when he 'should' be looking all delighted, like most of those who were assassinated for being a harsh critic of a country which abused him and his people. That's why all our renderings of Washington and Jefferson show them playing hopscotch and break dancing to harpsichord music, right?

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It's not like they were up to anything serious. The Root has the lowdown.

Though few will pick up on this tidbit, it goes a long way in showing, post-Wright, what America demands of its minorities—forget the past, shut up about the present, or find your patriotism in question. Sorry, but we reject that playing "don't worry, be happy" in our minds all day is the price of mainstream inclusion. What's going on here isn't even Psychology 101: the statue reflects "a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries."? Saddam Hussein, Lenin and King?! White folks, please.

I'm tempted to just snicker and enjoy your discomfort at finding your wonderful selves, however implicitly, criticized but given what the white reaction to Wright has revealed, I think blacks find themselves reminded anew how tenuous our rights are to too many. Check out The New Republic's deconstruction of the racist anti-Obama email chains sullying the internet as well as the racism all too evident in West Virginia.

We remain determined to speak and petition for redress of our grievances but I have to say—y'all are scaring us right now. Which we know is exactly the point.

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