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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The right time

It is now officially Jan. 16th, so I can say R.I.P. Martin Luther King Jr.

I hate formal holidays. I realize this one - Jan. 15th - was set to recognize his birthday. But this is like the Christmas observations by those folks who say they're all about the "real" reason for the season but after Dec. 25th you don't hear them talking about that reason again for another 364 days or so.

If the man's legacy means anything, we can celebrate it on any day we want. Today's my day. I appreciate the work he did in coaxing us all to at least try to get along. I'm not saying don't hate your neighbor this year. But if you do decide to hate him, make it because he's a numbnut, not 'cause of what he looks like.

That's all for me, folks. If anyone cares to join me I'll be celebrating Black History Month in June.

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  • As with most holidays, the mere declaration and day off doesn't get people to realize, celebrate or remember much of anything.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 1:27 AM  

  • too true, hammer, too true.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:35 AM  

  • I'll definitely join you in June James, and you and your wife can join my family in March when we decorate our Christmas tree.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 6:39 AM  

  • It's especially distasteful in VA where they used to combine MLK with Lee Jackson day. Now they give state workers two holidays, LJ on Friday and MLK on Monday. My ex husband was working at VA Union, a traditionally black university in Richmond, when the shot was fired. It was one of the most soul altering days of my life. I might just write that story and blog it in say...June.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 7:39 AM  

  • wait you get the day off???

    actually when i was just a really really little kid i used to think it was unfair how the black kids had someone to look up to and the mexicans didnt. cesar chavez just didn't jive with me.

    it took me a few to realize that it was the adults that had made it strictly a rememberance for the black kids. hell, i had to read about him on my own.

    f*cking LA county public school systems. geez.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 7:44 AM  

  • You should have been here to celebrate. The local white and black radio stations decided to have a Unity Night in honor of MLK because you know how the man liked to dance and get crunk in the club, right?

    Lots of stuff went wrong. Naturally.

    By Blogger mist1, at 8:37 AM  

  • I think my soon-to-be-seven-year-old is the only person who really pondered the reason for the holiday, and that's because he wanted to know why he wasn't going to school yesterday.

    I started to give him a 1st-grade account of MLK Jr., which led to more questions that I answered as best I could. But as everyone whose home is occupied by question-asking tax deductions knows, each "adult" answer will be met with 20 more questions.

    So as odd as it seems, I spent yesterday giving my son a history lesson.

    Y'all may want to weep for the upcoming generation now.

    By Blogger QofD, at 9:37 AM  

  • I so agree with you on this. It's exactly like people who only go to church on holidays.

    I think public service should be a way of life, not a whimsical task to complete on a specific day. That's how we make long-lasting change.

    By Blogger bc, at 9:59 AM  

  • I think it's a good reminder - especially since we're so besieged by so many days with labels on them (I think it's Religous Freedom day today). Of course, it's best to follow MLK's example every day, not just one day of the year.

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 10:45 AM  

  • I'm holding out for "Redhead History Month," or at the very least, a redhead-appreciation day.

    I have my gift list ready, just in case.


    (btw, the word verification today was 'fukbif.' I just want to know if that's the young, dumb Biff or the old, car washing Biff.)

    By Blogger SWF41, at 10:49 AM  

  • The internet is a great place., it allows you to hate people on their own merits, with no regard to their race.

    it also allows you to hate people all around the world, so you're not confined to hating the people in your neighborhood or workplace, you can hate people in Somalia you never met.

    Tongue thoroughly in cheek, of course.

    By Anonymous og, at 10:52 AM  

  • I always wondered why they chose the shortest month of the year to celebrate African American Month..

    By Blogger Winter, at 10:57 AM  

  • January 15th is supposed to be a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, not his death (he was gunned down by a shadow conspiracy on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN--go by and see it if you haven't)

    Part of that celebration is that he is a hero for ALL Americans, not just African Americans. The Civil Rights struggle that he led in this country is part of the wider worldwide struggle by poor people to throw off the yokes of tyranny and oppression. MLK, Jr. took up the fight begun by Gilgamesh, by Moses, then Christ, then citizens under Charlemange, Joan of Arc, Nat Turner, Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Mohandas Gandhi and Malcolm X.

    He taught ALL Americans and world citizens what Civil Rights really mean. It was the Civil Rights struggle which actually defined what rights are guaranteed the people by the US Constitution. That struggle seeks to break the tyranny that people impose upon their brethren when they act as their own sovereign. The Framers of the Constitution could recognize that tyranny in a monarchy, but not in themselves--that creating a sovereignty of the people does not evaporate the need for basic fairness from their representative government. That recognition of basic human rights in the US has formed the foundation for respect of those rights around the world. Do you really think there would be a UN Commission on Civil Rights today if there had been no Freedom Marches in the late 1950's and early 1960's?

    That is why people love America. Because your opportunity to succeed is an enforceable contract, instances of official unfairness equals a payday in court. No other country offers the opportunity to succeed (regardless of status or birth) like America. The idea of freedom and opportunity that is America is our main export to the world. This idea cannot be forcibly imposed from above using a phony war as cover. It originates from the ground up and must reflect the will of the people.

    So, people, MLK is not just a hero for Black people. He is a hero for EVERYONE.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 11:19 AM  

  • Well said, JB. I'm celebrating right along with you.

    By Blogger The Dude, at 11:21 AM  

  • It is interesting to think about how certain holidays come about and why they come about. Also, how some holidays lose meaning with time.

    For instance, Presidents' Day. The celebrations of George Washing and Abraham Lincoln. I am not saying I don't admire these men, but I have never been keen on a holiday set aside for their birthdays. I think all things patriotic can be lumped together for the 4th of July, which I'm sure is a time when Americans truly reflect what elements came together for the founding of the nation.

    So many holidays continue to fade as one generation passes the torch to the other. Columbus Day comes to mind, then there's Arbor Day.

    So what the future hold for MLK day? Will it become a celebration of civil rights? Or a day that loses luster with time?

    And as for you, James, I like the idea of not being held to one date to observe a person or a lifestyle.


    By Blogger Stewart Sternberg, at 1:08 PM  

  • Captain, you have a deal. My wife'll tell you how nutty I am about Dec. 25th. I'm all for a tree and presents in March.

    WoW I remember that from my youthful days in VA, the MLK-LJ Day. I didn't know they had separated it for state workers since then.

    Yas, I didn't get the day off. But leave it to a pub school system to either get it wrong or not even say who the guy was.

    Mist1, you are cold. That sounds like the Cartoon Network Boondocks episode in which Huey dreamed MLK had been in a coma all these years and woke up to find the country had gone bananas and all his work from back in the day had been in vain 'cause all anyone wanted to do was get crunk.

    Queen, that was cool of you to give a day-long history lesson. At least yours is one young'n we won't have to weap for down the line.

    BC, preach on!

    Dummy, you make my point. I had no idea today was yet another formal holiday. Religious Freedom Day? I confess I've never heard of that day. But I like the way it sounds.

    SWF41 I'm down for Redhead History Month. I'll even wear a commemorative t-shirt. And all I can say is watch out Biff.

    Og, I feel ya. I want to start Haters History Month, not to be confused with Hateful History Month. HHM would celebrate the right to despise all the annoying folks this earth has produced from politicians, to celebs, to the old guy down the block, to random strangers everywhere.

    Winter, that shortest month thing is a conspiracy.

    BD, all the people said Amen!

    Rock on dude, and don't forget you can also join me and Captain Corky for our March Christmas celebration.

    Stewart, you're gonna have to join BD as the resident philosopher on this blog.

    Peace and hair grease, everyone!

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:10 PM  

  • the coolest thing ever about MLK Jr day: my son coming home after school on the Friday before and telling me all about what a great man he was and that the person who killed him only did so because of hate. and then being mad at me Monday night becuase people were gathered at his gravesite and we weren't there. :-)
    p.s. you got your wish

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:11 PM  

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