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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Burning Truth in the South" question

Post your questions by 5pm on Monday, January 18. Remember to include some context to connect your question directly to the reading: "Burning Truth in the South," a speech by Martin Luther King.

29 comments:

  1. In the last paragraph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s paper, there is a sentence that stands and emphasizes a ideal that still applies today: "Tension and conflict are not alien nor abnormal to growth but are the natural results of the process of changes." There is still discord between minorities (more specifically, African Americans) and the police, whom were one of the main assailants during the Civil Rights movement. That is not to say that all-or even, most-cops are 'out to get' anyone, but there are obvious flaws that add to the struggle of being anything other than white in America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4CAfHdBK7Y this link talks about how black children are being taught to handle and be safe around police officers.

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  2. "The Negro has also become aware that token integration was not a start in good faith but a new form of discrimination covered up with certain niceties." Is this statement still relevant? How much of this do we see in our community? When we look at programs like the Night Market, how much of that is targeted at community integration? In this case, would it be beneficial, not just a nicety? Taking into account that the north side is a historically black neighborhood, What would it mean now if we started targeting the black community in the area through programs that were initially geared towards a white audience?

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    1. I am afraid "token integration" is still with us, all these decades after King wrote about it. I ask many of the questions you do.

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  3. "It was inevitable, therefore, that a more direct approach would be sought- one which would contain the promise of some immediate degree of success based upon the concrete acts of the Negro." Have the concrete acts of the modern day black communities in places like Ferguson and Baltimore furthered the ongoing cause of racial equality in the U.S.?

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  4. It is clear some things have changed little since the 1960 date of publication for King's Burning Truth in the South. Conferences (conversations) still most often result only in the clarification of problems rather than solutions for them. Reading this with an awareness of current events made me think about the different targets for political action between 1960 and today. Incredibly, the sit-ins in the 1960s targeted the federal government for its ability to pass legislation. By contrast, a well-publicized recent political action targeted the Board of Trustees at the University of Missouri for their ability to remove the University's President who had done little to address racial tensions on campus. I wonder if it is possible to impact as great a change by so visibly disrupting local structures (such as the economic viability of the sports program at one national university) as it was in the 1960s to commit to a national movement targeting the creation of federal legislation?

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    1. I really like your line of questioning. To believe that change can be accomplished by disrupting local structures is to more easily believe in one's own ability to bring about change.

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  5. Racism and hatred will never die. Much like terrorism, the faces of these evils constantly change, but they find a way to emerge somehow. The racial inequity we see in our modern society is one that is just as blatant as it was in the era of segregation, but it is much simpler for us to act like it isn't there. It is easy to consider racism as some antiquated societal constraint when every television commercial, or show , or movie includes a black actor or actress, but the fact remains that inequity is still just as rampant as ever. It has merely been swept under the rug via mass media, left to fester and mutate, while many of us pretend like it was never there in the first place.

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  6. "Time will reveal that the students are learning lessons not contained in their textbooks." This statement still rings true for African American students, especially in the south. From a young age, children learn what their appearance means in the world. As "subtle" as racism has become, young black people still feel the world's expectations; they are expressed in much quieter ways than what King describes, but they poison students' growing sense of self. How can move toward a place where minority students don't have to learn What It Means to look like they do, to a place where they can focus instead on who they are?

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  7. "He cannot understand
    why he is welcomed with open arms at most counters in the store, but is denied
    service at a certain counter because it happens to be selling food and drink. In a
    real sense the “sit-ins” represent more than a demand for service; they represent
    a demand for respect." Racism has get changed a lot, but there are still problems of racism in the society. Will people ever solve the problems of racism? How long will it take?

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  8. I was immediately struck by the use of the word "hoodlums" in the first sentence. I think that is incredibly important to acknowledge. That word carries so many prejudices with it and Dr. King is drawing attention to the fact that that word can be right next to the police and their tear gas and describe those who side with the police. That the police are not always opposing hoodlums. That "hoodlums" are not a certain skin color or social position. This makes me think about how peaceful black protestors are often described by the media as violent and rioting and unruly, while white kids on State Street are just celebrating and enjoying themselves-- by coating the street in glass and fire. Which lets me know not enough has changed.

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  9. Like Teddy, Kurt, and Trent, I was struck by the similarities between 1960, the year in which Dr. King wrote this speech, and 2016, the year in which we are responding to it. It is appalling that, except for the use of the word “Negro,” this statement is as relevant today as it was 56 years ago: “In the ‘affluent society,’ the Negro has remained the poor, the underprivileged, and the lowest class. Court actions are often surrounded by a special type of red tape that has made for long drawn-out of litigations and evasive schemes. The Negro has also become aware that token integration was not a start in good faith but a new form of discrimination covered up with certain niceties” (449). In fact, a recent article in Everyday Feminism brings up the following statistic: “More unarmed Black folk have been killed by police this year [2015] than were lynched in any year since 1923.” The rising violence and discrimination against Black Americans make a mockery of official celebrations of MLK Day. They challenge our national rhetoric and the principles on which our country was ostensibly founded. They are shameful. And they call us to action.

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    1. Talking about how Black Americans remain the poor and underprivileged, I am curious about the materialistic aspect of racism and how physical possessions of items layers on to idea of racism.

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  10. In the statement, "It is a final refutation of the time-honored theory that the negro prefers segregation." Does one feel this statement may still remain true in today's times?

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    1. This is such a good question!!!! I truly believe that it can be argued both ways, especially with all of the politics and health debates going on over the past few years. I think this is a fantastic question to ponder on, and truly reflect as to what is going on today. What can we learn from the past? How can we use the past to shape the future?

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  11. On page 449, the author states, “the Negro has suffered indignities and injustices that cannot be justified or explained.” Why is it that even in 2016, people still try to justify these "indignities and injustices?"

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    1. Excellent question, Leslie. I think it points straight at white society's continuing denial of white privilege.

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  12. The subscript under this quote: "It is absurd to think of this movement as being initiated by Communists or some other outside group" (449) says that former president Harry Truman had called sit-ins communist-inspired. This made me think about how hard it must have been to get a reputation that preached their actual message, instead of what affluent white people were calling it. I think it also draws an interesting parallel to today's "Black lives matter" movement. People say they don't want equality, they want everything handed to them, or even reverse-racism. I wonder how it was decided that MLK would be painted as a hero in textbooks, and which way our textbooks will point when they talk about our modern-day civil rights.

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    1. The idea of reverse-racism actually makes me pretty furious though (not mad at you! Just taking the opportunity to discuss the issue). Take this example...
      A white child has a bowl full of candy. A black child has a bowl with only one piece. If the white child takes the last piece from the black child, you're gonna tell them not to be selfish, right? But if the black child takes a piece from the enormous pile the white child was given, it seems more than fair that they should be allowed to do so. Because white people don't deserve more candy than black people just as a standard. That's why "giving back" to them is a process of evening the huge gap society has created between their privileges. It's not giving them better treatment. The baselines weren't the same to begin with.

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    2. Shelby, you were not at the conversation at the Wild Fig, so I have to tell you this. One of the people who participated pointed out that she doesn't use the term racism. Instead, she talks about "white supremacy" because you can't accuse black people of "reverse white supremacy." Smart, right?

      Also, i really like your questions.

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  13. Dr. King states that students will learn lessons from experience, which is not contained in textbooks. An example would be the sit ins or marches that the students participated in. With oppression being so visible in our world today, I wonder how many students would take the opportunity to participate in what is right and stand up for equality? I feel that each generation loses touch with what is going on in the world and this can be due to the increased use or obsession of technology/social media. Many young adults will post how they feel on social media, but not "practice what they preach?" However would they be able to take action and make a change like students did over 50 years ago?

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    1. I feel like too many people hide behind the computer or technology. I guess Brad Paisley's song "So Much Cooler Online" comes into mind with this. You can say what you want without having the consequences of being face to face with someone, and can easily change your name or remain anonymous (at least to the extent of public knowledge). Essentially, technology can make you a completely different person, and it has created problems of kids being a little 'too big for their britches' kind of deal. I think that there are benefits to technology, but it has aided in cowardice and too much drama of being noticed (that is if the intention is there for it.). This next generation is truly scary to see what they will do with the problems that society faces as well as how they plan to go about making these changes. I mean, labor and protesting is... work? hard?.... well, making a change is difficult, and it means more than pressing the "enter" key for submission.

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    2. So many good questions--both in your question, Elizabeth, and in Ashley's comments...

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  14. Like the others said, it's troubling to see how little the state of affairs has changed since the time this was written. The section describing a display of military force (by police) more appropriate for a wartime invasion in response to NONviolent protesting is particularly enraging, all the more so because police violence against minorities in American society has done nothing but skyrocket, whether or not protesting is involved at all. There is NO reason any black arestee should be beaten, paralyzed, or mysteriously die in police custody. That freedom of violence police have taken, have been given, is inhuman.
    One of the best connections that MLK makes here (in terms of appealing most to those questioning civil rights protesters) is when he compares with the feelings of the founding fathers- "One hundred eighty-four years ago a bold group of men signed the Declaration of Independence.
    If their struggle had been lost they had signed their own death warrant. Nevertheless, though explicitly regretting that King George had forced them to this extreme by a long “train of abuses,” they resolutely acted and a great new society was born. The Negro students, their parents, and their allies are acting today in that
    imperishable tradition." There are obviously many ways the civil rights movement at the time, and as a whole is completely different from that of the cessation of the u.s. But MLK is saying that it is similarly regretful these protests are necessary. After "a long chain of abuses," however, they had to stand up for a huge, necessary change - to better everyone's lives. While nonviolent protesting is key to upholding important civil rights philosophies (as MLK lists), a resolute defiance had to be taken. Promised legislation and empty discussions had, and have still proven their uselessness. That route has been tried many times and has left people of color with hardly any improvement, up to this day. The fact that that is still the case, in so many ways, is proof of our country's deep-seated racism, whether or not we realize it's happening so wholly, and that we are perpetrating it in ways we don't realize. It's a matter of STOPPING the perpretation, not simply avoiding it ourselves...

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  15. The lack of progress between the conception of King's speech and modern circumstances hardly surprise me. There are two key factors that Kind alludes to that provide the basis of the stagnation of progress today; the rhetoric of critiquing the civil-rights issue as an associated movement with an "outside-party"(communism), and the fifth tactic of nonviolent protest "Having faith that the white majority is not an undifferentiated whole,
    Negro leaders have welcomed a moral appeal which can reach the emotions and
    intellect of significant white groups"(450). Both of these components have insistently tried to break down barriers irregardless of racial adversity since King's era, however, the contemporary discourse of movements focuses on how markers of fiscal success, racial integration, and affirmative-action in education have been hindered by systemically covert forms of implicit biases. It has proved unsubstantial to have prominent figures of people-of-color in society, because of the pervasive inequality experienced by their respective groups: The conventional opinion of those who oppose and critique the Blacklivesmatter movement are unmoved by figures such as Obama, Cornel West, and other leaders in critical race theory, so moral arguments cannot function without address the rampant stark financial inequity present among minorities. Thus, the discourse of entertaining ideas and movements of inclusion cannot address marginalized groups without also including thoughts on the distribution of money. In education the disparity between successful schools and struggling enterprises has been strongly linked to the distribution of resources and funding. Nonetheless, the amelioration of these practices are been avoided because of their strong resemblance of socialist practices, yet, King directly addresses the opportunity that America disregarded with the denied integration of A-A soldiers after their GI-bills. Redlining practices have systemically and historically provided the basis for unequal funding, facilities, and overall depiction of minorities. What makes the discourse of equity even more challenging than mere issues of race may offer is the fact that contemporary socioeconomic facts have been predicated on a long preceding history of unanimous injustice. It is increasingly difficult to address the compensation of pragmatic moral & ethical practices without the oppress group demanding unanimous equity for the suffering they have endured through government practices alone--not even accounting for the horrendous acts of terrorism on the Black community in general. So herein lies the rub; How can America rightfully proceed to address issues of race without fundamentally contradicting various incompatible practices of equity in a capitalist infrastructure? We Do Not have an infrastructure even remotely willing to accommodate socialist values (view the current debate on medicare), but we do have a long historic debt to address. Will America ever be able to do justice to people without compromising much of the deep-rooted rhetoric it adamantly adheres to? Did King naively assume that this component of equality would be over seen by the mere difference in intent? It is true that most civil rights movements since the sixties are not directly demanding socialist practices as reparation, but many of issues these groups face have no other clear solution. This seems to be one of the main tenets behind the long stagnation of equality for marginalize groups, how will we be able to do justice in a paradigm of commerce fundamentally predicated on injustice?

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  16. The idea of calling this idea the "Burning Truth" is incredibly ironic in the sense that the truth really is being highlighted and burned for what it is. Society, in a way, is going through growing 'pains' getting over all of the humps. But, are these growing pains actually necessary? Theoretically no; however, the actuality is that it is happening.
    Inequality is an issue that exists and will continue to exist in some degree. Collaboratively, it has the ability to deplete, but unfortunately won't be able to completely be eradicated. I admire those who have stepped out of the norms of society to express their opinion and stand up for what is right.
    This also shows that the government is not a binding factor. Just because a "norm" or a "law" is in place does not mean that it is constitutional or morally correct. There are always challenges to be made in order to make society better and more inclusive for its citizens. In this case, racial equality was inclusion. Despite the new "norms" being laid out via law, the attitudes of those set in the old ways are still an issue. However, most of these today are the older generation, and the newer generations are taking over with a newer attitude. The question that could be asked here is what can we do to help those in the older generation accept these new norms? How do they justify their thoughts? Is it really their fault that they believe what they believe? All of these questions and concerns in this blog can be extended to other inequality issues, such as the issue with genders. Overall, we can use the path of history to help shape the future inequality issues by learning from what worked and what did not work. So, where does that take us now? What can we do with this information?

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  17. Throughout "Burning Truth in the South", I couldn't help but notice that Dr. King made a few key references to the black World War II veterans and the expectations they had upon coming home from war. For some reason I kept coming back to the this point. It really upset me that these veterans were so poorly recieved, after having risked their lives for a nation that did not give them the decency of choosing where they sat in public dining or transportation. In 1960, at the time of this publication, the youngest WWII vets were probably in their early 30s and 40s, right around the age one might start or have already started a family. I imagine many of these vets were thinking about the kind of world they were, or would be, raising a child in. I would like to think it was inspiring and hopeful, to these veterans, to see young people, that were no more older than they were when they went to war, holding non violent protests to fight for rights so their children could grow up in a better place.

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    1. Yours is a very positive view, Cali. And I agree with you: seeing young people stand up against injustice is inspiring, life-affirming, and full of hope.

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  18. Is this article about how Kentucky was split into a Union and a Confederate state? I didn't quit understand what it was saying, but that is what I got from the article. It talks about how we were right in the middle of the north and south, west and east. It says things about how can they be so supportive, but then be so against. I am not for sure, exactly what this article is about. I also don't understand the reference to the crouching lion. I do not understand the significance of it.

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