To be an ally remind yourself:
You are not the only smart person in the room.
You don’t always know what you don’t know.
You don’t define the needs of others.
You don’t own my identity, my mind, my body, my hair, my creativity, my culture, my path, my destiny, my purpose, my morality, my capability, nor the heights to which I can rise.
I don’t need your consent to breathe.
I don’t need your permission to grow, to move about in the world, to make decisions, to determine my unassimilated place in a socially, politically, and economically motivated hierarchy.
I don’t need you to tell me what I can and cannot dream.
Here’s what I remind myself:
I reject the hierarchy, the patriarchy, and self-defined, make-believe supremacy and superiority.
I reject the “well, at least I’m not black” mentality, the derogatory blackface minstrel mindset, and thinly-veiled performative apologies.
I reject the notion of freedom without accountability: a progenitor of oppression and injustice.
(I mean, how can justice exist if freedom without accountability prevails?)
Here’s what I hope for from you: mastering the art of listening to blues people.
Now that America has the blues, can the nation learn from a blues people? Mainstream Americans were shocked to feel unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence and hatred after 9/11, says Cornel West. These feelings were nothing new to black Americans, Dr. West says, it’s been their reality for 350 years. He wrote Democracy Matters to offer ways to win against the imperialism, soul-murder and free market fundamentalism that he believes are destroying the United States, his strategies grounded in America’s deeply democratic tradition.
—Cornel West, Democracy and Empire: Interview on the Paula Gordon Show
Listen for the purpose of “harmonizing historical truth with lived experiences.” —Dr. Ida E. Jones, Historian and Archivist