In July 2020, a short post of advice bullet points attributed to Bernice King (daughter of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) began circulating, reading as follows:
Daughter of MLK and Coretta Scott King posted this advice, as the next 6 months are going to get “real”.
1. Don’t use his name. EVER. (45 will do.)
2. Remember, this is a regime and he’s not acting alone.
3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work.
4. Focus on his POLICIES, not his orange-ness and his mental state.
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk.
7. Support artists and the arts.
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves. And,
When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves.
Although King had two daughters, his daughter Yolanda King died in 2007 — making Bernice King the only candidate for authorship of the piece.
Similarly, though the male subject of the missive was never mentioned, context clues such as “45” made it more than clear the individual in question was 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump. Some iterations of the “copy and paste to share” post suggested the writing was current as of July 2020, vaguely referencing contemporaneous events, such as protests over the death of George Floyd.
It didn’t take very long to locate the source and authorship of the writing circulating on Facebook, but it was not published or shared in July 2020.
On February 8 2017, Bernice King’s Facebook page (“Be A King”) shared a version of the ten bullet points of advice. King herself did not claim authorship, describing the points as “Some Wise Advice Circulating”:
The post read:
Amended Post (especially related to #1 below):
Some Wise Advice Circulating:
1. Use his name sparingly so as not to detract from the issues. I believe that everyone, regardless of their beliefs, deserves the dignity of being called by their name. However, this is a strategic tactic. While we are so focused on him we are prone to neglect the questionable policies that threaten freedom, justice and fairness advanced by the administration.
2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him and his policies–it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his appearance and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; those who oppose peace and justice want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;
7. Support artists and the arts;
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;
9. Take care of yourselves; and
Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”
When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.
A February 2017 screenshot of the post did include the language circulating in the 2020 version:
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 8, 2017
Although Bernice King shared the ten-point “Resist” post (labeled as “wise advice,”) elements of the commentary had been embellished in the intervening three years. King’s post as it was displayed in 2017 referenced “[Trump’s] appearance and mental state,” not “his orange-ness and his mental state” — although that language may have been “amended.” King shared the post in 2017, not 2020, and at that point she did not describe the advice as her own.