Rev. Al Sharpton On Today’s New York Daily News Cover Story & Distortion Of His King Day Message At National Action Network (NAN)—
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2015
REV. AL SHARPTON ON TODAY’S NEW YORK DAILY NEWS COVER STORY & DISTORTION OF HIS KING DAY MESSAGE AT NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK (NAN)
January 19, 2016 (NEW YORK, NY) – The following is a statement from Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network:
“Today’s silly New York Daily News front page distortion of my mockery of stereotypes is clearly a distraction to what we are dealing with in America today. To say that I should not mock stereotypes of the eating habits of some of my members and supporters (after initiating an anti-obesity program in NAN and losing 178 pounds myself) is completely wrong. This statement was part of the obligation I feel to ensure that people do not miscast the holiday honoring Dr. King because since I was a teenager I have followed in his tradition of civil rights.
Let me first remind people that other leaders, including Dr. King and Malcolm X (listen to Malcom X’s famous Message to the Grassroots speech in 1963), all the way to hip-hop artists today, regularly use stereotypes to mock themselves to drive home a point.
When a member of a group admonishes some of his own people in order to reinforce important principles of that same group (in this case what Dr. King was all about) it is completely different from an outsider using a stereotype.
We fight those outsiders that lump us all together in a negative stereotype by not distinguishing different behaviors inside of the group. To distinguish between Dr. King’s actions and our behavior with some that engage in what I consider misbehavior is the opposite of raising a stereotype.
To some, if President Obama challenges Black fathers at a Father’s Day sermon at a Chicago church, or others challenge family structure, or now if I mock stereotypes to deal with obesity in our community, we are promoting stereotypes rather than addressing issues that we are often accused of ignoring.
Who decides when leaders in our community can address bad habits or behavior in our own community and how we use language to address them? It is time to stop allowing others to define us by creating a false narrative around what we are saying.
We will not allow others to create distractions that divert our attention from the true purpose of Dr. King’s day; fighting for justice, a fair wage, and public policy solutions that increase equality in our country is how we spent the holiday and what we will continue to focus on.