Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Now Massa Is Telling Us How We Must Go Home

The hue and cry, and cry and hue, is louder than life over Reverend Joseph Lowery's eulogy yesterday for his friend, Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

I'll say that again so it's clear: his friend.

It seems to me that that's all anyone needs to know to STFU about anything Reverend Lowery said and whether it was, or was not, "appropriate" for a funeral. Reverend Lowery was not in attendance for political reasons. He was sending a personal friend, one who he no doubt came to know and love during their many years in the trenches, home.

And, since as her friend he knew her far better than the screaming meanies on the right (and the few even on the left) that dare to judge this morning what he had to say. Putting it back in context, because both the mainstream right and the left are selfishly focusing on the alleged "Bush diss" and not the entirety of what he said, indicating not only that their viewing of this funeral was NOT about who it was supposed to be about (the late Mother, Coretta Scott King) but that they cannot resist trying to parse out nuggets of our world for their use, rather than ours:

Thank you, Coretta. Didn't she carry her grief with dignity? Her growing influence with humility? She secured his seed, nurtured his nobility she declared humanity's worth, invented their vision, his and hers, for peace in all the Earth. She opposed discrimination based on race, she frowned on homophobia and gender bias, she rejected on its face. She summoned the nations to study war no more. She embraced the wonders of a human family from shoulder to shoulder. Excuse me, Maya.

She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we know there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance, poverty abound. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.

Well, Coretta had harsh critics. Some no one could please. But she paid them no mind. She kept speaking.

Since it's now back in context, can folks please now just shut up about this being anything other than what it was? A eulogistic statement about the woman -- his friend -- actually lying there in front of Reverend Lowery?

Perhaps not. Since, even when we are given the funerals of queens, what is or is not "appropriate" or "inappropriate" usually remains defined by Them, and not Us, and Us get judged accordingly.

Of course, what is, or is not, appropriate is a matter of culture. And, depending on what your culture is, you may, or may not, grok why what was said at Coretta Scott King's funeral was utterly appropriate for her funeral. Depends on how you are raised.

Case in point: I've been on the verge of the warpath just reading blogs where folks young enough to be her grandchildren are writing referring to her as "Coretta" with no honorific or title as if they personally knew her and had just had dinner with her right before she died. Most of Our mothers would have knocked some sense into our heads for us disrespecting our elders like that, talking to them as if we were their equals in wisdom and experience. These Other folks? They seem not to even been taught that it *is* disrespectful. Yet they claim to be judging someone else's words appropriate or inappropriate. What a joke.

In my culture, anyhow.

But all that's besides the point. It certainly is clear that despite the tens of thousands of beautiful, honoring words spoken at Coretta Scott King's funeral, all that is busy being memorialized, and thus becoming history, are those few words spoken by her friend that lent themselves to be twisted into a political football by folks on both sides of the political aisle. Whether we're talking about the Right, where the racist colors of Redstate's fan base were displayed out for everyone to see. Or talking about the Left, which while fully accurate in its defensive counterreports about Reagan's funeral, is utterly missing the point.

IMO, the *only* appropriate response to complaints about what was said by Reverend Lowery is this:

Complaining about what a friend says at a funeral deserves no attention of any kind unless you actually see the friends and family of the departed stand up and make a stink. So STFU. Thank you.

Today's editorial in that stalwart of my youth, the Blacker and Bolder than ever New York Amsterdam News, probably sums up the hue and cry and cry and hue as politely as can be done:

Rev. Lowery pulled the covers off when he said take your time, and he proceeded to admonish Bush in the most jocular and forgiving manner, which set the stage for forgiveness all around. This could have been a day of anger of weeping and of planning revenge, but all our leaders admonished us, don’t be that way. Don’t you dare mess up. Don’t you dare embarrass us. Don’t you make no noise except to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. . . .

There are those who are asking even now if the King funeral was a place for political statements. This question must be asked before that one is answered: Where else to ask a political question except when you are in a room with folks who have been presidents for the last forty years and will be presidents for the next twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years? Where else would it have been proper to ask a political question if not in the place where the politicians were? There was music and love and poetry and art sprinkled with every kind of political nuance one might suggest, even if one were sitting in the back of the room. . .

The homegoing service sent Mrs. Coretta Scott King home in the style reminiscent of the March on Washington and with a prayer for our people. May God forgive us all.

Finally, the ironic juxtaposition of all this nonsense over the Reverend Lowery's remarks and the burning of four more Baptist church burnings in Alabama -- bringing the total up to 9 in less than a week -- the day before Mother King's homegoing celebration cannot be overlooked. Of course, the official word is that racism is not behind these (even with a 100 year history of church burnings behind us suggesting otherwise) - based on the fact that 4 of the churches had primarily white congregations. Hmm. Well, they were all Baptist, and the two separate sets of burnings were across the state from each other. And I haven't heard of any news that would suggest to the sick and twisted that Baptists should be targeted (although the beyond sick and twisted Chris Matthews seems to think that gay liberals have time to commit such mayhem these days despite fighting for their very right to exist in the South). What's the odds that the arsonist carefully scoped out the congregations in advance to ensure s/he was practicing Equal Opportunity Baptist Arson?

More importantly, whatever the motive, doesn't this suggest that the South has bigger fish to fry than either celebrating or whinging about how a last minute or uninvited -- depending on whose story you believe -- funeral guest might have felt, even if he is the President?


At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shanikka, this is a beautiful piece. (I know my comment is about a week late, but this is the first--though certainly not last--time I've been to your blog.) Some people are just unfreakingbelievable.

--Rachel from MLW


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