Monday, January 21, 2008
To start off, a really old image, and one from last night.
Sometime in April/May 1990. Beach on the Andhra coast, somewhere near the estuary of the Godavari and the town of Narasapur. Blue sky, empty beach, quite barren - just a little bit of scrub - and scores of iridescent red crabs teeming astonishingly on clean white sand. Sarojamma breaks off from our little group of women who had briefly stopped there, and, in a moment of exuberance, runs towards the crabs, sending them scurrying in all directions in a panic. Just remembering Sarojamma's impulsive joy gives me a sense of freedom.
Sunday, January 20, 2008. Mumbai Festival event in the amphitheater on the Carter Road promenade, Khar/Bandra. An Australian hip-hop band called Downsyde is playing on
the stage, egging the audience on to sing along, raise their hands in the air, and dance. During the last couple of songs, the little area near the stage is packed with dancers. Two little kids, a girl of around four, with a cloud of curls, and a younger boy appropriately sporting a wool beanie, are up on the stage with the four hip-hoppants, three of whose names I remember as Shabazz, Armee, and Dazaztah (sp?). The little girl, especially, had a great sense of rhythm, and even improvised in time to the music improvisations, hurling her little arms in the air with abandon. Joy!
Just realized as I typed the last full stop - they're both seaside moments of joy...
While there has been scholarly study of King and everything he did, that knowledge hasn't translated into the popular culture perception of him and the civil rights movement, said Richard Greenwald, professor of history at Drew University.
"We're living increasingly in a culture of top 10 lists, of celebrity biopics which simplify the past as entertainment or mythology," he said. "We lose a view on what real leadership is by compressing him down to one window."
That does a disservice to both King and society, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies at.
By freezing him at that point, by putting him on a pedestal of perfection that doesn't acknowledge his complex views, "it makes it impossible both for us to find to new leaders and for us to aspire to leadership," Harris-Lacewell said.
She believes it's important for Americans in 2008 to remember how disliked King was in 1968.