This is an email from Black on Both Sides, a newsletter by Established in 1865.

The Pastor’s Prophecies

Hal H. Harris
Oct 12, 2020 · 3 min read

I wrote earlier about how I’ve been watching Little Baby Bum with my son. He enjoys the songs and animation. In our quest to find children’s programming that showcases Black joy, we stumbled upon Netflix’s Motown Magic.

The premise is that of a young Black boy named Ben who lives in the city of Motown. He is artistic, and possess a magic paintbrush that transports him to a fantasy world. Motown Records opened up its catalog to provide the soundtrack.

I definitely have a post later about the show’s portrayal of Black personhood. The town Ben lives in certainly seems like a ghetto, and they also have an episode centered around gentrification!

What I’m Writing

My Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. and Black Lives Matter: A Meditation. I have been sleep deprived this past month as baby goes through his fourth-month regression and my wife works the night shift. This piece, inspired by some recent readings I’ve been doing on Martin Luther King Jr., took me to a vulnerable place in my childhood:

On Sundays, we’d put on our best and go to my grandma’s church. When I stayed awake, I had a hard time reconciling the pastor’s prophecies regarding earthly justice against the clashing environments where I learned and rested from the travails of learning. It did not make sense to my child’s mind. I began to think that we were in those hallowed walls praying to air. No all-loving God could allow the contradictions I saw every day. It would not allow my loneliness.

White Allies Must Confront Their Heritage of Sabotaging Black Movements. My first piece published for GEN!

What I’m Reading

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve made it to the fifth chapter, “Loving Your Enemies,” and I admit I am struggling with it a bit.

King argues that forgiveness must be at the center of any politics that promotes equality. This is not for the sake of the hater, but to ensure that the hated does not become warped by negative emotions. “Modern psychology,” he writes, “recognizes what Jesus taught centuries ago: hate divides the personality, and love in an amazing and inexorable way unites it.” I believe King gets down to a deep essence of Black personhood with this suggestion-that, on the aggregate, we emerged from slavery not wanting to be like white people. We observed how their hatred of our survival twisted the way they politically interact with the world and wanted nothing to do with it.

Another quote of his, however, did not age well for me:

“Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

I struggle with this being the narrative that won the Civil Rights Movement, and whether or not it should be the narrative for Black Lives Matter. Yes, King’s non-violent movement was pivotal in getting the civil rights legislation of the 1960s passed. But politically, it resulted in the realignment of the Republican Party to accommodate the guardian angels of segregation. We are living through that political outcome today. We did not, as King prophecized, win their hearts.

See y’all next week!

Established in 1865

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