15 Jan

Do you know what I discovered this week? I would love to chat with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and let him know that I am one black woman in America who has been living the dream for quite some time now. So much so, that the only problems I have are white people problems, which is amazing given the background I’ve come from. In my memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown, I vividly described living through the Jim Crow era as a poor black child, and it was a bitch! It’s a good thing Dr. King came along when he did or I would have been burnt toast. I’ll tell you now, I was not cut out to suffer. Let’s just say, I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor—rich is a hell of a lot better.

Since I can’t see Dr. King face-to-face at this point, maybe I’ll write him a letter. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll bring him up to date as to what’s happening in my life and the general state of affairs on the Earth vis-à-vis his legacy.

Massage Appointment

The main problem I had this month—E. Tomczyk

Dear Dr. King:

Hope all is well. But of course it is, because compared to Earth, I am sure Heaven is a walk in the park. Did you just flip when Mahalia Jackson sang her way into Glory shortly after you did in 1972 and when Maya Angelou strutted her stuff through the pearly gates this past year? I can almost hear the three of you civil rights icons harmonizing on “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” And what was the look on Strom Thurmond’s face in 2003—that old humorless racist from South Carolina—when he saw you laughing it up with Jesus, et al? Did that staunch segregationist tell you that he had a secret bi-racial daughter that he fathered with a sixteen-year-old maid in his house when he was twenty-two-years-old? (Nowadays they’d call that statutory rape.) Of course, it must have been so exhilarating to see your wife, Coretta, again in 2006. She did a great job in carrying the torch once you’d gone, Martin. You would have been pleased at how she preserved your legacy. (Now your kids, they are a horse of a different color, but I’ll tell you more about them later.)

MLK I Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Dr. King, I have been living the dream! First of all, I got a great education—it wasn’t easy—but I worked my ass off to get my degree. I was one of the first to go to college in my neighborhood. I did well, too—even made the Dean’s List a time or two. Then I met this adorable man who turned out to be a white man. Can you believe it? As you know, the Supreme Court didn’t strike down the miscegenation laws until 1967 with the Loving v. Virginia case, but we didn’t meet until 1972. We were pretty much free from any bigotry against our marriage (unless you count my mother-in-law) as long as we stayed out of South Carolina and Alabama, which still kept their miscegenation laws on the books until 1998 and 2000 respectively. There was still a Justice of the Peace in Robert, Louisiana as late as 2009 who refused to marry an interracial couple, but I never had much account for Louisiana and pretty much avoided that state like the plague.

Anyway, I got myself a darling white man. He’s a keeper! You’d be pleased, Martin—he’s so kind. He’s my best friend. I’m sure interracial marriages hadn’t even crossed your mind when you said “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” And do you know what we do—this milky-white man and I—to celebrate your birthday? We spend the entire weekend in places that would have, at best, dragged us out by our hair, and at worst, lynched us from a “poplar tree as strange fruit” for breaking the miscegenation laws in years gone by.

I know our first black President says we should spend your holiday weekend in service to others, but I do that all year round anyway. I get way too much pleasure from these traveling adventures to set them aside. This year WW (White and Wonderful) and I plan to go to an antebellum resort that was started in 1778. It has been the vacation site of presidents, judges, lawyers, politicians, and at least one princess. You should see me when I roll up to these places. I’m always dressed to the nines, dripping with jewels (tastefully, of course), and as my husband hands the valet the keys to our car, he extends his arm to me and I loop my arm in his as we stroll confidently and with grace through the front door to the check-in desk. Then I take a deep breath and wait for the line that is always music to my ears: “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Tomczyk. It is a pleasure to have you as our guests!”

MLK Obama 2nd term Christopher Weyant The Hill

Cartoon used by permission: Christopher Weyant, The Hill

Life has definitely improved since you left us, Martin. More minorities are educated with good jobs, great homes, and doing well. We can eat where we want, live where we want, and vote for whom we want. Our first black President was elected for a second term (nobody saw that coming), and although he has his haters by the truck load, I think he’s going to end his presidency just fine, and history will treat him kindly. Unless you’re watching Fox News and their right-wing bedfellows, the entire world has seen his grace under fire, his self-control, his uber-intelligence, and his compassionate heart. We just have to keep him alive to finish the job. (You know what I’m sayin’.)

Now, I’m not going to lie to you—even with our first black President we still have many, many issues to deal with, and some of them might end up derailing all your hard work and sacrifice. One of them is that our black children seem to either not understand the depth of your sacrifice (and others) or they have been raised in such affluence they don’t see the potential dangers that they could still encounter. Granted it was years ago, but one of my kids announced to me that there was no more racism—her generation didn’t see color (she does have an amazing gaggle of multi-cultural friends). Of course she is the color of vanilla cream, so half the time, people just assume she’s white. She didn’t change her tune until a stranger in an airport bar recently mistook her for being white and jokingly made good-old-boy cracks about how much he was sure they’d both enjoy seeing the President assassinated, as if this was a first-line agenda item on every white person’s list. Sigh!

MLK Meaning to Young David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Other black children have given up on your dream, Dr. King because of the ravages caused by income inequality: eroding public schools, the new slavery (one in ten black men in prison—more in prison than enslaved in 1850), absentee fathers (cause they’re mostly in prison!), joblessness, homelessness, black-on-black crime, police brutality . . . black folks hardly vote anymore because they are so disheartened. We’re losing our youth to drugs, murder, and mayhem, Martin. The black middle-class is melting away and most of our black families are ending up in the 99% of the have-nots because the richest 1% now control 48.2% of the global wealth. How can any of the poor compete with that, no matter what their race?

MLK 1 percent Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

But the fear that keeps me awake at night is the resurgence of widespread racism. Dr. King the world has gone nuts since you’ve been gone. Religious extremists are bombing here, there, and everywhere. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe—it’s as if all of Europe has collective amnesia. In America there are “angry white men” who have taken up residence in the Tea Party and white supremacy groups because they are convinced that your legacy has made them victims of reverse discrimination. It’s as if they are trying to turn back the clock for minorities, women, and the gay and lesbian population to the 1950s. It’s just crazy-go-bananas in our legislative branches and in the marketplace. Sometimes it makes me want to stand up and holler.

MLK II Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Well, that is the gist of it Dr. King. I could rattle on for days. Pray for us in the hour of our need. The jury is still out as to whether we can continue to live the dream that you so valiantly gave your life for. I’m getting up there in age, so I won’t have to deal with this disillusionment much longer. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you sooner than later. Take care, my hero.

Je t’adore, Eleanor

P.S. LATEST CHIT-CHAT: Bill Cosby assassinated Dr. Huxtable and broke millions of hearts; we have a popular TV show where a white president of the United States is having an affair with a kick-ass black woman who is a miracle worker; we have another popular TV show where the protagonist is teaching everyone how to get away with murder; and we have a brand new hot TV soap opera where the cast is 99% black and they are all rich hip-hop moguls (all three shows written by black folks). Dr. Ben Carson, who used to be arguably the best neurosurgeon in the country has lost his freakin’ mind and become a Tea Party darling and wants to run for president. Your grown-ass kids are a HUGE embarrassment (sorry to be the one to break the news)! Dexter and Martin III are trying to oust Bernice as CEO of King Center, and Bernice is counter-suing because the brothers tried to sell your 1964 Nobel Peace Prize (oh, hell to the no!) and your Bible you took with you to prison that Barack Obama swore his inaugural oath on. One of your kids is suing your old friend Andrew Young for intellectual property that he says you and Coretta gave him, and the King kids made DC pay them a butt-load of money ($800,000 I think) to erect a long-awaited statue of you. Also, I heard your Center has fallen into disrepair—algae is growing in the pond which is cracked, and the place is looking real ghetto-like. Looks like your kids aren’t living the dream, either (judging by their character, and all). Kids! What you gonna do?

Live Together as Brothers

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.







Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


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21 responses to “MARTIN, MY MAIN MAN

  1. Daddy Bear

    January 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    After growing up in the 40’s in a deeply racial South, I always believed that there was no way the country could ever be brought kicking and screaming into the dream that MKL saw. Now I’m not so sure. Yes, the world still seems as bigoted as ever, but the fact that you can have the attitude you do after living through all you have, well, that gives me hope. I don’t know how you manage, but I’m glad you can.

    Thank you.

    • etomczyk

      January 16, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Daddy Bear. I can imagine that you have seen a lot growing up in the South during the 40s (the North was no cakewalk either). Actually, we have come a long way since the forties, and I for one thank God for it every day. The hateful hearts of some is something that will always have to wrestled with by others, but if the majority of us can treat each other in the way we wish to be treated, we will thrive as a nation.

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. All the best to you and yours.

  2. valentinelogar

    January 16, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Oh my friend, I wish I had your faith. I wish I believed it was moving forward, but you know I think we are rolling backwards right now. Where are our heroes? Where is the leadership that will take us toward a better world? Right now, I am full of fear for the next generations.

  3. Joanne

    January 16, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Eleanor, this was perfect to wake up to on the eve of Martin Luther King’s memorial weekend. I love that you can keep one foot grounded in the reality of the world’s imperfections and disappointments and the other foot dancing in the light of optimism — and humor. It is an inspiration, as too often the reality of the world pulls me down like quicksand and makes my heart so heavy … You remind me to laugh .. and hope.
    Thanks for that. I loved this quote: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”—Martin Luther King, Jr. Something we all would do well to live by!

  4. Let's CUT the Crap!

    January 16, 2015 at 10:58 am

    It’s been so long since I’ve read one of your posts. Your voice is refreshing, and I’m most likely repeating myself, a pleasure to read. I like this post. You tell it like it is and what a shame Mr. King has to hear such news, but you know how to lay it on the line. I do believe we’re going backwards. How can that be?

  5. Lorna's Voice

    January 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Wow, Eleanor, this should be published somewhere–like in print. It’s awesome! (In the way that “awesome” is supposed to be used…) 🙂

  6. eurobrat

    January 17, 2015 at 12:19 am

    I love your idea for celebrating MLK Day. That’s gotta be a priceless sight 🙂

    But I agree with you that the resurgence of hatred worries me….with everything going on in Europe right now, Al Qaeda training its members for new attacks, and the States slipping into an oligarchy…we need a guardian angel like MLK to help us!

    Another great post…as always!

    • etomczyk

      January 23, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Eurobrat: We had a grand time. On the first night, we danced for hours in what was once called “The Old White Club” (I kid you not). I am sure there were “old members” turning over in their graves. It (current name, Greenbrier) is quite a lovely place now and the owners and staff are wonderful people. All the best.

      • eurobrat

        January 23, 2015 at 11:30 pm

        Haha…not only does “Old White Club” sound racist, it sounds really uncool now too…”only old white people hang out here”…I’m glad you had a wonderful time, though!

  7. Elyse

    January 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Oh my! I nearly missed this whole post. So glad I didn’t.

    I love the idea of your way to celebrate — because success, is, after all the best revenge. You go girl. I have an 8 year old bi-racial great-niece. She is just learning about MLK and will be coming here to DC to see the Memorial. I can’t wait!

    • etomczyk

      January 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      Elyse. I’m so glad you didn’t miss my post as well! WW and I had a rousing good time. Danced night away in a room that was once called “The Old White Club”–I kid you not. We had a blast.

      It is so lovely to hear about your great-niece. I bet she is lovely. Your pleasure and pride in having a bi-racial great-niece is just one of millions of changes in our country that gives our lives today hope and joy, and underscores how far we’ve truly come.

  8. aFrankAngle

    January 20, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    This post is perfect timing for me. I saw Selma last week, which caused a wide range of emotions. I’ve also read (over several months) several posts about times haven’t improved since the 1965 and earlier ,,, that bothers me …. yet your story makes me smile … realize the movement forward, yet keeping in mind that the journey is far from over. Thanks E-Tom!

    • etomczyk

      January 23, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Frank, I haven’t see Selma yet, but plan on doing so. Want to see it with WW. We have made a great deal of progress–it’s just been messy and not in a straight line. That’s life. But when I think how far we’ve come without having a bloody coup, I thank God for his grace and love on a daily basis.

  9. imagesbytdashfield

    January 21, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    I was young when the civil rights movement was going on. I wanted to march in my city but my mother wasn’t having it. She didn’t want her baby to get hurt so instead I watched it all unfold on television. With all that is going on nowadays I wonder if MLK isn’t shaking his head…and probably saying a few other choice things.

    • etomczyk

      January 23, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      TD: I’m sure MLK is doing more than shaking his head–he probably sheds a couple of tears along with Jesus. But it “ain’t over til the fat lady sings.” We will overcome it all, someday. . .

  10. talesfromthemotherland

    January 24, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    So many wonderful kernels here, as always, but the PS) is a real gem. However, Ben Carson was never “arguably the best neurosurgeon in the country,” but an OK one. We know him, and while disappointing, his politics were not a big surprise… he’s always leaned that way. It’s just too bad that he’ll use his status as a neurosurgeon to promote his cause, which is in fact freakin out there. In fact, my husband had to fix a fairly major Ben Carson complication, in a case that BC never should have done. There’s some inside stuff for you to chew on. 😉 As always, I love reading your take on things, Eleanor!

    • etomczyk

      January 24, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Dawn: You know, I have always wondered if Dr. Ben was as great as he made himself out to be. He is an idol in the conservative Christian churches, so not a negative word was ever spoken about him, but I always wondered. . .now that he has become unleashed, and I am a “born-again liberal” I am seeing BC with fresh eyes and not liking what I see. Pisses me off that he was given such a leg up, and now he acts as if he did it all on his own (just like Clarence Thomas–another knucklehead). I can’t believe the way he disrespected the President on the same podium (I’ll never forgive him for that one), and some of the nutty things he’s been saying are, well, nutty! Fascinating that you would know BC. Would love to know more.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        January 24, 2015 at 3:23 pm

        In the world of neurosurgery, he has always been considered good, not great. As my husband says: there are at least a half dozen neurosurgeons his age, who are as good or BETTER. Just in his age range… and he was very right wing throughout his career, often asking patients to pray… whether it was their comfort zone or not. Just not a big fan.

      • etomczyk

        January 24, 2015 at 3:28 pm

        Dawn: Very illuminating. . .well, he better go back to medicine, because he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning the Presidency.

        Just watched the video link. Hilarious!! Thanks.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        January 24, 2015 at 7:10 pm

        The video is SO Boston, and pretty much all of my friends there have it posted right now. There’s a distinct defensiveness about the the deflated balls, but they also feel justified to be in the Superbowl. Tough birds!

        As for BC… it will be very interesting to see how far he gets. My guess: not far.

      • etomczyk

        January 25, 2015 at 11:08 am

        If Ben Carson gets within a thousand miles of occupying the Oval Office, I shall seriously think of moving back to Israel because I will know that America had lost their ever-lovin’ minds. 😦


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