"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" - Martin Luther King. Jr.
This is the quote that I put up on my Facebook page this afternoon in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. About an hour ago, I received a wall post, with an attached link, from a friend who said that a teenage boy had messaged her saying that he was being cyber-bullied by racists. "Anything you want to do about that?," she asked me.
I clicked on the link and was taken to a photo of a white teenage boy and a black teenage girl smiling in a photo. The caption underneath it read "Nigger lover". I scrolled down and saw the comments...It was clear from the comments that an argument between the teenage boy who was in the photo and the girl who had tagged him and written the racist caption was taking place. One of the things the girl had written was: "All female niggers are uglier than the males so you can't be talking considering you're adding to the stereotype." This was not your average teenage nastiness.
I then clicked on the page on which the photo had been posted. To my surprise, I was taken to Dr Martin Luther King's Facebook page....
Imagine my outrage as I discovered that this evening, Dr King's page has been coming under attack from bigots who have been posting vile, deeply offensive and racist comments and photos. These photos include images of lynchings and other shocking images such as one of President Obama with "I hate n*ggers" written on it. The N word is sprayed liberally across the page and on the photos.
It's extremely sad that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a small group of about 3 or 4 people -- who are seemingly quite young -- have spent their precious time defacing Dr. King's page. They have clearly taken the time to compile images, photoshopping them with their own captions and writing puerile comments on the wall. One person posting photos even named himself "Lee Harvey Oswald."
These photos will no doubt be taken down by the King Center -- which runs the page -- as soon as they are notified. It remains to be seen what Facebook does with the people who posted these photos and comments. Will they -- and should they -- be banned from the social network? What is Facebook's policy when it comes to people who post such content. Discussing this on Twitter, a few commenters said that like it or not this was the first amendment in action. Maybe so, but Facebook is certainly not the place for that kind of 'freedom of speech'.
This purposeful defiling of Dr. King's page in such a public space is evidence that there is still much work to be done in America towards racial healing. And while there is no doubt that a few people doesn't represent the entire nation, we have already seen from the recent shootings in Arizona that it only takes one person to wreak havoc. I hope nobody will be too quick to dismiss this as the work of some silly kids. Such actions ought to come with consequences.
What do you think should be done?
In the meantime, please go to Dr. King's page and report these images.