I met with my good friend James Shelley to discuss Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized, a book published in the 1960s which, I think, still has great resonance today.
I learned today that a tribute I wrote to the late Reverend-Doctor James Hal Cone will be appearing (soon) at Open Thought Vortex Magazine. When it is published I will share it here.
I am pleased to see my poems “Springtime in Washington” and “Give a poor man a fish” up at The Wild Word:
I had a valuable conversation today with an academic who pointed out that in the academy, professors and instructors are finding that most students lack initiative and wait to be told what to do, what to study, and how to work. Conversely, in the schools, kids who demonstrate a free spirit and inner-driven orientation are frequently coming into conflict with the expectations of their teachers.
There does seem to be a paradox afoot where kids are taught to follow instructions and then when they enter the world of the “private sector,” encounter employers frustrated with their lack of initiative.
Far be it from me to simplify a highly complex issue, but I can say from my own personal experience that I have seldom been rewarded for my independence of mind in nearly any school or employment situation. I sympathize with students and youth because it seems that no one has any idea what they want from young people. I have my own thoughts about this which are based on my belief that our society lacks an essential faith in the capacity of the individual to not only make her own decisions but also that we do not have faith in our capacity to come together to problem solve with one another. The frustration over the state of education strikes me as being a principal focal point of this essential lack of faith.
“White lives, for the forces which rule in this country, are no more sacred than black ones, as many and many a student is discovering, as the white American corpses in Vietnam prove. If the American people are unable to contend with their elected leaders for the redemption of their own honor and the lives of their own children, we, the blacks, the most rejected of the Western children, can expect very little help at their hands; which, after all, is nothing new. What the Americans do not realize is that a war between brothers, in the same cities, on the same soil, is not a racial war but a civil war. But the American delusion is not only that their brothers all are white but that the whites are all their brothers.”
-James Baldwin, “An Open Letter to My Sister Angela Y. Davis” (November 19, 1970)
The Poor People’s Campaign was being organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) when Dr. King was murdered in Memphis while fighting for the rights of sanitation workers. King and SCLC believed that a living wage was a key to creating the “beloved community” and a basic human right.
Fifty years later, the fight continues. And I support it.