Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Interesting day today. On the day we celebrate King's life and death, I had a mini-brush with death today. I wasn't the target, but I could have easily been a victim of a drive-by shooting today.
I park the car at the restaurant where I am about to have a meeting for a radio-hosting job. As I park, I hear 10-15 gun shots ring out behind me. I look in the rearview mirror and can't see what's going on. A car comes racing by me and stops a few cars in front of me. Two young men then run up to the car and start shooting at it. I duck down in the driver's seat and just wait for the exchange to end. If I didn't wait an extra minute or 2 in the car, I could have been the victim of a stray bullet.
On any occasion, this would have been a heart-wrenching ordeal, but this happened on Dr. King's holiday. I got out of the car and carried on to my meeting, not knowing if someone else was going to turn the corner and start firing again or even if one of the shooters saw me and thought I would recognize them or their car (I couldn't). I just told myself that I couldn't be moved and that I had to press on. We're too often forced to live in fear and I just decided that wasn't going to be my moment of fear.
During the meeting, I thought long and hard about how my life could have ended and how I didn't say goodbye to my wife the way I wanted to when I left the house. On the way home, Michael Baisden was airing his Dr. King show and Baba Dick Gregrory just finished his comments about how the 3 things that we do to kill ourselves quickly are not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, and not exercising. I get home and turn on the radio to listen to the rest of the show but the dial stops on WPFW (the radio station I just met with) and it is Dr. King's final speech. He speaks about not making it to the end goal with us. It was a day of symbolism all around.
On this day, I thank Dr. King and all civil rights activists for their work and I am saddened that the biggest threat to my livelihood is black on black crime from the same people I write to help uplift. I write, perform, and live for all of humanity, but I this work started from a long burning passion to see black people love themselves. It pains me to see this not happening in 2006 on a large scale. King day is seen by too many as a day off, a day to get a car deal, and a day to shake your butt because you can sleep in late. How many parties did you here advertised on the radio in horror (yes, horror) of Dr. King?
Humankind is on a serious path for destruction. You and I owe it to all who came before us to not lose focus. We are soldiers in this war and there will be casualties that won't always be physical. We must press on. If we kept the legacy of King alive everyday, we wouldn't need a holiday. My wife and I had an interesting debate about King's legacy which spun into a discussion of media images and black TV shows. I told her I was frustrated because in the 80s and 90s, we had a good balance of black programming with shows and now everything I see is comedy or promotes more black stereotypes. This is
the subject for a future blog so stay tuned.
I am proud that we have this holiday and with today's events, I am more inspired to press on with my work than ever before. We as soldiers in humanity's war against ignorance need to reflect 365 days a year on how to live peacefully. King's holiday should not be the equivalent of sinning 6 days a week and going to church on Sunday for purification. Let us live life to the fullest and if we learn anything from King this day (I learn something new every year), let us learn that life is fleeting so say what's on your mind and only apologize for being too stubborn to listen to anyone who may offer you a differing opinion. Think before you speak. Write before you fight and remember ”we are only as humane as our most inhumane soul." Peace be unto you.