We look at the legacy of Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells and Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Martin King. We have, and part of the struggle now in the age of [Barack] Obama is how do we keep alive the legacy of Martin King?
I do believe that healing takes place on a number of different levels and that in fact black healing can be deepened by trying to heal across as well as within. But it could be that to call for black and Jewish healing without acknowledging the need for intra-black healing puts the cart before the horse.
When you say that [Martin Luther] King was a prophet, you don't say that he predicted anything; you say that he bore witness. He left a committed life so that people would never forget the suffering of people that he was connected to. King was prophetic because he lived a committed life. Now he did critique society, saying you're going to go under if you don't treat your poor right. I mean, that is part of prophetic calling, but it's not predicting anything.
It's a spiritual malnutrition tied to a moral constipation, where people have a sense of what's right and what's good. It's just stuck, and they can't get it out because there's too much greed. There's too much obsession with reputation and addiction to narrow conceptions of success.
He[Michael Jackson] had a joy in being alive. There was a joy you felt of him on the stage and making us not just feel good but pushing us against ourselves with the "Man in the Mirror," looking at ourselves critically, "Black or White," what does it mean to get caught in a color as opposed to a rich history and culture?
I just don't want the fear from the right to be used by the [Barack] Obama administration to silence critics. We have to be willing to tell the truth because we're trying to speak about conditions that are being rendered invisible in our prisons and schools in the hood and so forth and so on.
Prophetic pragmatism attempts to keep alive the sense of alternative ways of life and of struggle based on the best of the past. In this sense, the praxis of prophetic pragmatism is tragic action with revolutionary intent, usually reformist consequences and always visionary outlook.
I think in the end, you know, we're just addicted to oil. We've got to overcome that addiction, and we need some serious accountability of big oil, because big oil, like so much of big businesses, has just colonized our government, colonized the regulatory agencies so we can't impose any kind of accountability on them.
The authority of science ... promotes and encourages the activity of observing, comparing, measuring and ordering the physical characteristics of human bodies.... Cartesian epistemology and classical ideals produced forms of rationality, scientificity and objectivity that, though efficacious in the quest for truth and knowledge, prohibited the intelligibility and legitimacy of black equality.... In fact, to "think" such an idea was to be deemed irrational, barbaric or mad.
The street is as diverse as any other sector, but in peoples' mind it gets appropriated as a black man who's tough. Trying to make it through by staying hard and phallocentric. To me, that is just an impoverished conception of what it is to be a black male. It doesn't do justice to my grandfather, my father, my brother - or just the black men I grew up with.
Frederick Douglas's agenda was an agenda, not for black people to get out of slavery. It was for America to become a better democracy. And it's spilt over for women's rights; it's split over for worker's rights and so forth.
I was deeply influenced by the sartorial practices of both preachers and jazz musicians and actually Masha in Act One of Anton Chekhov, my favorite writer's master piece,Three Sisters,when she arrives reflecting on whether they're ever going to get to Moscow, memories of the death of their father, and she's in black, and she says I'm in mourning for the world, saying in part that I have a sad soul and a cheerful disposition.
Life is such a mysterious thing that you are up one day; you are down the next day. A lot of the homeless brothers and sisters who were a success ten years ago, they are now on the street. Maybe ten years later they will be a success, but the crucial question is what is the quality of their life.
The white backlash has been at work for a long time. It's been part and parcel of the Republican Party for the last 25 years or so, and it's been highly successful up until Barack Obama was ingeniously able to come up with strategies to deal with it.
I think that in a certain sense, we're concerned about the same issues. How do you accent the progressive, the prophetic, those things that are critical of all forms of injustice, all forms of bigotry, all forms of dehumanizing other people, and yet still allow for a certain kind of flow, linguistic flow, certain kinds of melodies and harmonies in the samplings that take place?
I think nonviolence and the mediation of conflict by means of respecting civility must be promoted. But being the kind of beings we [peoplep] are - wrestling with greed, and wrestling with fears and security, anxieties, wrestling with hatred that's shot through all of us - wars are here to stay.
Part of the popularity with Louis Farrakhan has less to do with the content of his message and more to do with the form that he portrays himself - as being a free, black person who speaks what is on his mind with boldness and fearlessness. Who is willing to pay the consequences.
Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there's enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better, much more rational, deeply secular, whereas hope looks at the evidence and says, "It doesn't look good at all. Doesn't look good at all. Gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever." That's hope. I'm a prisoner of hope, though. Gonna die a prisoner of hope.
It's so easy to begin to demonize someone you think is so far removed and as the demonization begins to expand, it ends up being everybody but your friends. After a while everybody else but you. That is a slippery slope that is so easy to slide down, and that's what is dangerous.
If you've got on the one hand death, dogmatism, domination, and on the other you've got desire in the face of death, dialogue in the face of dogmatism, democracy in the face of domination, then philosophy itself becomes a critical disposition of wrestling with desire in the face of death, wrestling with dialogue in the face of dogmatism, and wrestling with democracy, trying to keep alive a very fragile democratic experiment.
Cincinnati like so many other cities, we know that so many of our schools, when it comes to public schools, are still de facto segregated racially. It has to do with residential segregation. It has to do with James Crow, Jr., which is at work, de facto rather than legally so that some of the integration is taking place among more and more well-to-do.
If the churches don't move, much of the community won't move. We've got a situation in which a black church is still a major institution in the black community where 55 percent of the black folk attend and over 75 pass through its doors.