I didn’t notice until this morning that today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It wasn’t because of it that I decided to read Race Matters by Cornel West. I had started it a few days ago. Although I’ve read a number of his articles and listened to many of his talks, I had never read any of his books.
We both hold some unpopular beliefs. For instance, I don’t like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ideas about race. Everyone seems to love him, so publishing an essay critical of him provoked the ire of some of my Facebook friends several years ago. Three months later, Cornel West published an article harshly criticizing Coates, saying, “his view of black America is narrow and dangerously misleading.” His key point is that Coates fetishizes race, which was also my key issue with him. Because I felt like I was the only person who didn’t like what Coates had to say, when I read West’s article, I felt like I found a soul mate.
In any case, I finished reading Race Matters this morning and decided to check out Burrow, a Japanese bakery in DUMBO, that Michael had recommended last week. I messaged him to see if he would want to meet there. I also messaged Grace since Burrow is near her apartment. Michael, Grace, her boyfriend Tom, and I sampled a bunch of stuff in this tiny bakery—all quite excellent.
Afterward, Grace and Tom took me to Wegmans because I had never been there. I didn’t expect it to be so huge. I was impressed. I wanted to check out their bar, but it wasn’t open yet. It was probably a good thing because Grace had some work to do this afternoon.
Back home, in the evening, I suggested watching Malcolm X by Spike Lee. Again, I wasn’t thinking of the fact that today is MLK Day. Malcolm X was fresh on my mind because the last chapter of Race Matters is about him. It may seem like an appropriate movie to watch on MLK Day, but I can see that, from Malcolm X’s point of view, King, being a passive Christian, was a convenient solution for white people.
Race Matters doesn’t offer any viable solution either. The conflict between black and white in America seems to be getting increasingly complex. I’m ending the day wondering what exactly King symbolizes today.
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