With the tension going on in Baltimore, W. Kamau Bell feels one thing that would help is for white people to stop bringing up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The comedian feels that talking about the civil rights leader is a white person’s tired superficial way of acting like they know what’s going on with race problems and that MLK is not a reference a white person should be allowed to use.
To help white people to find new ways to talk about racism we have to ban them from saying the words "Martin", "Luther", "King", & "junior".
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) April 28, 2015
In 2013, W. Kamau Bell was saying the same thing and claiming that it’s not a white person’s or white journalist’s responsibilty to bring up race issues. He said then, “The worst thing to say to a person of color is, ‘I don’t think that’s racist,’” he said. “I don’t think that’s your area. You can have an opinion but I don’t think you are the final word. That’s what’s missing, white people. You’ve got a lot of jobs, but should not have the ‘I know what’s racist’ job. I know what’s imperialism – that’s your job.”
And more recently, W. Kamau Bell wrote about what it’s like to be black and afraid of the police for Vanity Fair and how he was the victim of “textbook racism” when he was asked to leave a Berkeley, California restaurant because the waitstaff mistook him for a homeless man bothering the customers.
W. Kamau Bell found an ally in his request in the Incredible Hulk. Mark Ruffalo also tweeted that “White America” needs to quit bringing up the civil rights leader and linked to an article at DailyKOs.com written by Chauncey DeVega, writer and the founder of the blog, “We Are Respectable Negroes”. The essay claims that white people only bring up Dr. King in an emergency and have no true understanding of the man and his crusade other than a few lines from a speech he made.
Dear White America: beautifully written. Please Stop Talking About Martin Luther King Jr. and the Baltimore 'Riots' http://t.co/FQysWpCgfy
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) April 28, 2015
Chauncey DeVega wrote:
“The impotent summoning of Dr. King in a time of crisis (with its righteous, justifiable, protest and rage against police thuggery, and a cruel State that cares more about protecting property and its out of control racist police, than in justice for black and brown Americans and the poor) is enabled by a flat and weak understanding of the Black Freedom Struggle and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in it.”
According to the Examiner, Bell’s idea was met with some criticism. People tweeted things in response like “Thank you for displaying the true content of your character”, “We can start by using your name instead, WKB, when we talk about how racist some black people can be”, and “Dear Arrogant Puffbag: You don’t get to tell anyone what they can and cannot say. Deal with it”.