Riot Season

I welcome the dog days of Summer even though for the past weekend I've felt imprisoned in my neighborhood by the Beyonce/Jay-Z concert at the Rose Bowl. Not so suddenly there were no restaurant reservations available and tons of traffic and a ton of bass and boom on the thoroughfares. As a kid growing up in Washington, D.C., August marked what was known in urban areas around the country as "riot season." When people are hot, agitated and angry, all it takes is one incendiary event to set an entire City on fire. In all honesty, the White sections of D.C., Detroit, Newark, Chicago and Los Angeles were NEVER on fire, only the Black sections. Too many reasons to go into for my little blog. I'm working on a "King" project. King's last days were as much a fight against "paternal racism" as they were a fight against traditional racism. King had love and support as long as he was content to fight the atrocities down South. It's when King began to fight against the atrocities up North that his popularity began to wane dramatically. He had the best of liberal supporters until he asked them to correct the wrongs in their own back yards. This is when they bailed on King. This failing of commitment and support got him killed as much as anything else. And guess what? There are still those today who refuse to remember King as anything but the man who led the marches on Birmingham and Selma and who delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C. in 1963. How sweet and sentimental. King was so, so much more than that. He was even greater than that. He did not get killed because of his "I Have A Dream" speech, although romantics would love to believe so. He was killed because he had become radical. I speak to individuals today and I remember tanks rolling down my street in 1968. These (okay, White) individuals say to me "I don't remember that." Guess what? They were not living on my N.E. Washington, D.C. street nor was Martin Luther King, Jr. the same man to them. When I speak of the radicalism of King in the year before he was killed, this is a revelation to them and they resist this even today.

Paternal racism -- "we support and believe in you as long as you don't extend beyond our borders of comfort."  (my own definition)

In many ways, that's Hollywood. Much of what they call "diversity" is, in actuality, paternal racism. We will support "diversity" as long as we are "comfortable." This diversity machinery, this beast is so powerful, we all essentially have to fall in step if we want to keep the lights on in our homes. Hollywood's "diversity" allows White writers (yes, in 2014) to write most of the major Black film releases, but very, very few Black writers are allowed to write anything other than, well, almost nothing. John Ridley wrote "12 Years A Slave" and is writing the pilot for an ABC Drama about modern day racism and violence (naturally -- ugly, but comfortable). I believe this is because we see the same story differently, and this extends beyond the comfort zone, even though 

© Kevin Arkadie