Monday, May 12, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.: Uniquely Black, Uniquely American--And his Statue Made in China

This story has been under the radar for a quick minute. Apparently, the planned statue in homage to Dr. King is being redesigned because it is, according to critics, "too confrontational." As we commented previously, this sentiment isn't a surprise given America's desire to white-wash Dr. King and his message. More disturbing, at least to this respectable negro and patriotic American, is that the United States has apparently lost so much of its manufacturing capacity, as well as skilled tradespeople and artisans, that we have to import the statues of our national heroes from (of all places) China. The future does indeed belong to the land of the golden dragon doesn't it?

The redesign of King's statue raises another question. What is an appropriate monument to the late Dr. King? How should he be honored? The proposed statue in its ostentatiousness reminds me of a man forced to brag about his accomplishments rather than let the greatness of his work speak for him. In short: the Dr. King statue is Borat wearing a swimsuit tacky--I just coined that phrase, do you like it?

To my eye, King's statue is a more spectacular version of small penis syndrome--where men overcompensate for their endowments by bragging about how big and mammoth they are (no woman could accommodate me, I don't know what to do!); wearing padded boxer briefs to create the illusion of that extra inch (or three); buying large SUV's, Hummers, or Suburbans (hey woman, look here! I have such a big and powerful car that I must be a "big" and "powerful man"); or buying a Corvette aka "the penis car" to compensate for their limited gifts:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a triumphant figure who represents the best of what American society, with all of it complexities and contradictions, can offer. King's accomplishments, in his short life before being stolen from all of us, are so towering that a monument to his greatness (and his unfinished work) need only be a simple one, because King's contributions need not be exaggerated or embellished. Your thoughts?

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