“We come out of nowhere, don’t we, in the sense that we’re a total accident. Our parents met. There’s the accident. And, you know, we’re born. Obviously, we come from someplace physiologically. And then comes the emergence of our being, which is the psychological and spiritual emergence of our being that takes time, experience, education of a certain kind with parents and neighbors and teachers and relatives and from one another humanly. And this slow emergence of our psychological being and our spiritual being is itself a great mystery. And mystery, you bet — mystery is a great challenge. It’s an invitation, and it’s a wonderful companion, actually.”—Robert Coles, in The Inner Lives of Children.
Our latest podcast with Imani Perry (a scholar of law, culture, race— and hip hop) and the fabric of our identity is the first in a four-part series, “The American Consciousness.”
Ms. Perry acknowledges wise voices who say that we will never get to the promised land of racial equality, writing, “That may very well be true, but it also true that extraordinary things have happened and keep happening in our history. The question is, how do we prepare for and precipitate them?” We took her up on this emboldening question at the Chautauqua Institution, on the cusp of yet a new collective reckoning with the racial fabric of American life.
“The next thing you do today will be the most important thing on your agenda, because, after all, you’re doing it next. Well, perhaps it will be the most urgent thing. Or the easiest. In fact, the most important thing probably isn’t even on your agenda.”—
“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us be men.”—Cesar Chavez, quoted in our upcoming show with Richard Rodriguez
So many NFL players, so many men, carry the festering wound of having been abused themselves. As has so often been said, hurt people hurt people. It’s not until we reveal those wounds, examine them, heal them, that we will actually see a shift in male-perpetrated violence of so many kinds.
No amount of humiliation can accomplish that, and in fact, any amount of humiliation will prevent it. People may make themselves feel better as they tweet away about what a monster Ray Rice is, but they are actually increasing injury in the process.
“For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.”—Mike Rowe, in "The Work We Value, The Intelligence We Ignore."
“It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.”—Billy Collins, from his poem "On Turning Ten"
“To talk about spaces in a diminishing way actually means that you devalue the people there, and it becomes very easy to treat them and their neighborhoods as fungible.”—Imani Perry, from her interview with Krista Tippett at Chautauqua. Can’t wait to launch this in the podcast next week!
We are in the final stages of producing our episode with the classical superstar cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. After more than a decade working on this radio project, I continue to marvel at Krista Tippett’s prowess in creating conversational spaces with the most famous of people and in the magic of the production process. This interview demonstrates how the crafting of a podcast and a radio program can elevate a conversation and elevate the mind. Here’s a two-minute preview to whet the appetite!
“Because while on the one hand I am training my sons to develop resilience in the face of the racial injustice they will encounter, I am also training them to approach the world with full recognition and appreciation of the wide spectrum of human beings, some of whom are quite different from them. They know that they have an ethical responsibility to humanity, animal life, and nature, to care beyond their immediate experiences. We talk about gender and sexual orientation and disability and mental health, along with race, ethnicity, and language. They are encouraged to be critical and analytical, to use those enormous imaginations to journey into the interior lives of others. Together we create gardens of possibility in the parched earth. If we grow the babies up right, they just might redeem us all.”—Imani Perry in "Teaching Trayvon."