A Chinese artist was selected to sculpt the planned Martin Luther King Jr. tribute in Washington D.C. and now the CA chapter of the NAACP, black artists, and American granite workers are in a xenophobic tizzy. Objectors have taken issue with the fact that 1) Sculptor Lei Yixin is Chinese and not American, 2) He’s Asian and not Black, and 3) He’ll probably use Chinese granite rather than American granite for the project.
A Black artist in Altanta has even gone as far as to create a protest website: www.kingisours.com
“It is disgraceful that there will be a sculpture to honor a black man for his fight against racism in this country and we couldn’t find one black person on earth to interpret his likeness,” Young said. “It is insulting and does not serve my people well. It makes us invisible.
“I do not think that anyone outside of my immediate community should have been looked at first. We need a black artist to interpret Dr. King and a black name at the base of the monument, because he died for us.”
Wasn’t it King who stated that men should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character?
Of course, memorial controversy is nothing new. People protested the choice of Maya Lin for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Apparently a Chinese-American was thought to be an unsuitable choice at the time. Ironic that the Vietnam Memorial is now one of the most iconic and beloved memorials in our nation’s capital.
I think the choice of Lei Yixin is a tribute to an amazing man who’s message of hope and positive social change reached way beyond the borders of America. Martin Luther King Jr is a global hero and his memorial doesn’t deserve to be sullied by such a parochial assault of narrowminded racism.