I had a memorable dream several weeks ago, it was about a new vaccine that had been developed by a black researcher. This vaccine, when infused into black people, had the effect to increase their need and capacity for knowledge. What an amazing dream! That means that people who are resistant and apathetic to digest information about their history, politics and culture, would now become hungry for that knowledge and willing to read and research their history and culture. I woke up, my heart racing with excitement. Now I can truly write with abandon. The problem with black people’s aversion to knowledge has been solved.
Once the remnants of the sleep had worn off and my head cleared, I realized that it was only a dream. We continue to rob ourselves of our birthright; we rob ourselves of the legacy of Marcus Garvey, Dr. King, John Lewis and all the black heroes who have made our survival possible. But I will single out one of the last remaining survivors of our civil rights struggle who has continued to display his heroism in the face of a growing intolerance and nativism.
Recently John Lewis came out emphatically and fearlessly saying what other elected leaders would like to say but are afraid of saying it, “that Donald Trump’s presidency is illegitimate.” Yes, I agree we have and do practice the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power although, in real terms that is a fairly recent phenomenon in America.
There was no peaceful transfer when we annexed Mexican lands, no peaceful transfer when we plundered and confiscated Native American sacred burial places. No peaceful transfer when North and South fought. At the very outset no peaceful transfer with England. This notion of peaceful transfer of power is pretty bogus. However, for the sake of our post- modern constitutional practice, we recognize the results and decision determined by the Electoral College which, though part of the constitution, should be relegated to the ash heap of history.
When someone of the stature of a John Lewis, Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon, who was beaten and broken in defense of our civil rights, and who has stayed alive for 76 years tells me that something is illegitimate, I’m very inclined to agree with him, against another whose legitimacy has been in question his entire adult life.
Legitimate means: “to conform to the laws and to rules.” Intrinsic to that, are ethical standards which is the philosophical foundation of our laws and rules. To my mind, when one abrogates the basic and fundamental standards which, incidentally, is the foundation of Judeo Christian principles then, such a person renders him or herself illegitimate, for example; the current president built his political career by attempting to de-legitimize President Barrack Obama. Can you imagine the pain inflicted on Michelle, Sasha and Malia by that cruel, vicious and racist attempt at emasculating a man of color? It is those memories of emasculation. Those memories of in-humanity, those memories of cruelty that drives a man who has experienced it first hand to say that the president is illegitimate.
It is truly sad and regrettable to hear the voices of black people whose access to this system is largely due to the personal sacrifice of a John Lewis, speak badly of this hero out of ignorance.
John Lewis and I share a birthday but, more profoundly we share a vision of this world that trumps material gain and illegitimate power. John Lewis we salute you and celebrate your courage and indomitable spirit.