In This Episode
I’ve written frequently about why I believe Intent + Communication = Solutions.
Intent is the key element in this equation.
Without it, communication will fall flat or feel false. Which makes things worse instead of better.
The I+C=S formula is especially effective when the subject of the conversation makes us uncomfortable.
These uncomfortable conversations can be one-sided, by the way…
Reading is listening to a conversation between yourself and the writer.
Right now, I’m reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop – A Sermon to White America. It was written in 2017, but you’d swear he somehow dashed the entire book off on May 26th, the day George Floyd’s video-taped murder went viral.
Dyson is a scholar, a cultural and political critique, social activist, and an ordained Baptist minister.
As a writer, I was struck by his admission that he tried and failed to write this book several times from a scholarly point of view.
It was then he realized, “what I need to say can only be said as a sermon.”
And.. “I have no shame in that confession, because confession, and repentance, and redemption play a huge role in how we can make it through the long night of despair into the bright light of hope.”
The most uncomfortable part of this new conversation about race, for me, as a white American, is the realization that I’m just now beginning to truly comprehend what I assumed I understood all along…
That the deep-seeded racial inequity has been a boiling pot of burning injustice ready and waiting to scald black Americans every single day of their lives.
This has been the reality LONG before you and I entered this earth. America didn’t invent racism, but man, she sure has been dedicated to the practice.
Consider that W.E.B. Du Bois was organizing protests and ringing the alarm of inequity in his newsletter called The Crisis in 1910!
NINETEEN TEN! It was called The Crisis… in 1910! And one hundred and ten years later, we are in the same scalding crisis.
Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin, three of the greatest and most celebrated American writers of the twentieth century, spent their lives poring over stunning prose, poetry, and plays illustrating these same painful injustices, inequalities, and yes, murders.
Countless authors, scholars, preachers, legislators, musicians, poets, even a U.S. President and his family have been telling us – and showing us.
Yet, we still did not truly see or hear or feel the pot boiling over.
So, what are we going to do about it?
Is this finally the time that things get better?
Will the boil even be reduced to a simmer?
Maybe this time it can.
Only if we’re willing to invest stock in awareness, understanding, empathy, and dedication to change.
Some, many actually, will refuse it, dispute it, never wanna lose it. That is their choice to make.
This is personal work. I have no interest in perpetuating labels or casting more blame.
Change only comes to those who feel the need to change, it can’t be forced.
Yet, if we allow this to be yet another temporary headline on the scroll beneath the plastic talking heads, kept alive only by a new shock, a new death, then we will have lost again.
The first step, for me, is to get outside of myself, and claim no true understanding of the black experience. Regardless of books I’ve read, friends I’ve made, or my own experiences battling authority.
Clearly, none of that prepared me to understand if it didn’t push me to take a stand.
To be permanent, and effective, the change has to begin within.
So, I’m continuing to reach out and listen up.
Most conversations I am not recording because they are for learning – not posturing.
Yes, it is important that we all speak up, especially if you’ve raised your hand and asked to lead.
It is equally important, I believe, on a topic such as this, to acknowledge and eliminate the innate desire to promote any personal agenda in the process of LEARNING.
One conversation I asked permission to record and share was with my friend Anthony Abron.
I first met Anthony a few years ago in Austin, TX. His formidable presence made an immediate impact on me. He was someone I wanted to know better.
He defies common business labels; always doing something new, like acting in national television ads, leading frank discussions on the state of race, and advising men on fashion.
All with a proficient mix of gregariousness and gravitas.
What I did not know, until this conversation, is the degree of heartache behind Anthony’s hearty laugh.
He shares some stunning personal news for the first time in this conversation. It is not directly tied to race, but it connects to the black experience in a deep and unexpected way.
It was brave of Anthony to open up like he did with tape rolling, and I know it was not easy. When is it ever “easy” to be vulnerable?
Yet, vulnerability is what leads to awakenings.
I invite you to listen in on this learning conversation about life, parenthood, love, heartbreak, ignorance, race, and determination to empathize and understand each other better.
One of my favorite moments is Anthony’s reading of an excerpt from Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again:
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
It was my first time hearing it – a stunning introduction.
Plus… whenever you’re ready: