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Whitlock: Self-aggrandizement defines the culture that replaced Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream
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Whitlock: Self-aggrandizement defines the culture that replaced Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream

One of my most vivid memories of childhood is walking down my neighborhood street telling my best friend, Butch, that I wanted to be the next Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was the mid-1970s. I was 8 or 9 years old. Me, my older brother and mom lived at 3920 Grand Ave, in a 2-bedroom flat on the east side of inner-city Indianapolis. The 650-square foot apartment cost $75 a month. My parents had divorced four years prior. My mom worked as an hourly employee at Western Electric, earning roughly $6 an hour as a factory worker. We were poor. I fit the profile for trouble. Big and athletic, I had a penchant for shoplifting, mischief, and fighting.

Luckily, I was tugged by the culture. Dr. King's legacy and shadow ruled the culture. I wanted to be him. I wanted to wear a suit and tie and command the attention and respect of the world. From my all-black, ghetto setting, I dreamed of furthering his dream of creating a society that reflected the kingdom promised by an allegiance to God and America's founding documents. That was the culture that influenced me. That culture blinded me to my impoverished circumstances, inspired me to see a world of limitless possibilities, and demanded that I capitalize on my parents' and their generation's sacrifice.

Today's culture baffles me. All of it, but most especially the culture corporate media frame as "black."

Yesterday, I wrote about celebrity entertainer Nick Cannon's appearance on the popular urban radio/TV show "The Breakfast Club." During the interview, Cannon justified his irresponsible, seven-kids-with-four-women family life by insinuating the nuclear, traditional family is a racist Eurocentric approach to life. He placed all responsibility for family structure on women.

Cannon's interview helped me understand how distant I am from modern "black" culture, an outgrowth of liberal political manipulation through the adoption of Critical Race Theory as a guiding worldview. The culture is secular. It attributes the behavior and outcomes of black people solely to white people. In modern culture, men are weak, women are leaders, black people are not responsible for our destiny, the n-word is a term of endearment, and, most importantly, blackness is defined by political affiliation.

"You ain't black, if you ain't a Democrat."

I reject it all. I'm not weak. I believe in the patriarchy. I'm responsible for my destiny and outcomes. The n-word — regardless of the speaker's color or pronunciation — is disrespectful and harmful. I'm a lifelong non-voter and refuse a political identity.

This new culture assigned to black people by Hollywood, academic, political, athletic, and literary elites has demonized the tactics Dr. King used to expand freedom to African-Americans. The strategic, nonviolent, dignified approach of the civil rights movement is now ridiculed as "respectability politics." George Floyd, a career criminal and drug addict, has been substituted for Rosa Parks. Skinny jeans worn lower than boxers and wife-beaters have replaced suits and ties.

I'm an old man struggling to deal with change. But you will never convince me that respect, a dignified appearance, and a reputation free of criminality will go out of style or lose their effectiveness.

Rather than capitalize on the sacrifices of its American ancestors — from Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglass to Abraham Lincoln to Booker T. Washington to Dr. King — modern culture looks to exploit and/or diminish those sacrifices with a fraudulent, self-aggrandizing imitation.

Self-aggrandizement means to aggressively increase one's power and wealth by any means necessary. Modern culture perfectly reflects the selfie generation, the generation mimicking Dr. King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evars, John and Bobby Kennedy for power and wealth.

LeBron James poses as an activist to enrich his primary employer, Nike.

Shaun King poses as a black man and activist to enrich himself.

The NFL and NBA embraced Black Lives Matter to secure sponsorship from major global corporations.

Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Stacey Abrams, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris pretend that requiring government-issued identification to vote is Jim Crow 2.0 as a means to maintain their power.

Nick Cannon blames racism for his dysfunctional family structure as a means to protect his reputation and rationalize his irresponsibility.

Colin Kaepernick took a knee and quit football because he wasn't man enough to accept his uncanny athleticism could no longer mask his immature approach to preparation and leadership.

Maria Taylor couldn't get the contract she wanted from ESPN, so she claimed Drew Brees, Dave Lamont, Rachel Nichols, and the bosses who fast-tracked her career were all racist.

I'm all for power and wealth. There's nothing wrong with pursuing it.

But when your tactics mirror Confederate President Jefferson Davis' race-based strategy, I find it offensive when you cast yourself as the woke Martin Luther King Jr.

Naw, you're just a bigot promoting a culture that leads to a separate and unequal country.

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