Lida Husik talked about Martin Luther King Jr. in my 2011 interview with her: “The American travesty that hurts me the most is the Black Experience. I’m not a do-gooder, or politically active, besides voting, and being vegan. I don’t protest things or write my congressperson. But I was six years old when Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered. I remember that day and how it felt like a wound piercing my heart. So this was what the grown-ups got up to. The heart of a child never gets used to constant disappointment in adults. I grew up in Washington, DC, in the white sector, although later in jr. high and high school black kids were bussed in from other parts of the city, so I was exposed to that other culture thoroughly—and in the seventies as well, a different world. You couldn’t see the math problem on the board through the sea of afros. The black kids were loud, angry, and funny; they sang and danced in the halls and popped gum. There was Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Parliament. The hits were sung with gusto. We little white kids tapped our Lawrence Welk toes hopefully along to the beat. The black kids had a different way of speaking, mellifluous and abbreviated, full of mysterious code words that cracked them up. We were meek and pale and tongue-tied, and turned even whiter next to them. Most of our teachers were black, too. They were warm and funny and had life experience in their faces. The white teachers seemed shriveled and boring and nasal.
Art by Robert Pinero. Words by Lida Husik.
“Flash forward to the eighties and nineties and this godforsaken decade. I am enraged by ‘gentrification’, the very word is so offensive, as if a bunch of ‘gents’ in ascots gallantly swoop in, take off their top hats, and say, ‘Sorry old chaps, we must have use of your neighborhood, but look, there’s a perfectly good crime-ridden suburb for you to move to, and we’ll just turn your old mammy church into a hipster wine bar’; and this has happened everywhere. The old black grandmas can’t afford the property taxes; if there are government programs that could help they aren’t told about them, etc etc. Now, I’m not saying that blacks are good and whites are bad; that would be stupid. The black community has disappointed me too. I don’t like the anti-gay bias. I wish there was more of the old-time values instead of the hopelessness and violence, but that’s also just economics. Mainly though, I’m so sick of how ignorant and selfish some white Americans are. Just how ignorant of history do you have to be not to appreciate the great moment Obama’s nomination was? How could you look at one second of footage of the sixties German Shepherd attacks and fire hoses, wielded by government employees, and not grasp that incredibly emotional opportunity for justice? How could you not vote for Obama and call yourself a Christian? Well, the hypocrisy never ceases to amaze.”