Credit for this epiphany to Racialicious and it's Addicted to Race podcast No. 69 of May 12, 2007
A four minute commentary in the podcast from contributor Liam McGrath is must listening, because it challenges "us" to really stop, drop (our egos) and think about why we pursue the conversation about race/culture/class/identity with such passion, and, more importantly, to what end.
Listen to it here:
McGrath humbly poses a string of questions that, beyond the sheer poetry of series, prods the honest listener to commit to something, or admit they're only in this for some form of hyphenated "self" : -gratification/-advancement/-soothing or -immolation.
The one that hit me between the eyes, as addressed to myself, was: "Am I hear to teach, or to change people's minds?"
I don't have all the answers to McGrath's questions, but I know they are excellent and his stated two points of conclusion could not be more on time:
- Those who follow need to check their overlapping and possibly conflicting motivations.
- Those who would lead must identify a tangible goal, and address the most salient common motivation that might inspire followers to join hands to achieve it. (NB: Having the conversation, for it's own sake, should not qualify as a goal.)
If you care about the politics of race/culture/class/identity, four minutes with McGrath's comments will be a most profitable investment of your time. Especially if you also care about making the world a better place with respect to those issues.
Which, of course, is really the only question that matters.
Like a good preacher, no one listening can escape being pierced by some part of his questions. I really, really want to hear from people after you listen.
And, in the same spirit of inquiry, I leave you a question of my own: What's the difference between pursuing racial justice and pursuing racial reconciliation? Which is more important to you?