BILL MOYERS: What would you like us to be talking about?
JAMES CONE: I'd like for us, first, to talk to each other. And I'd like to talk about what it would mean to be one community, one people. Really one people.
BILL MOYERS: What would it mean?
JAMES CONE: It would mean that we would talk about the lynching tree. We would talk about slavery. We would talk about the good and the bad all mixed up there. We would begin to see ourselves as a family. Martin King called it the beloved community. That's what he was struggling for.
BILL MOYERS: What can people do to try to help bring about this beloved community that you talk about?
JAMES CONE: First is to believe that it can happen. Don't lose hope. If you-- if you-- if people lose hope, they give up in despair. Black people were enslaved for 246 years. But, they didn't lose hope.
BILL MOYERS: Why didn't they?
JAMES CONE: They didn't lose hope because there was a power and a reality in their experience that helped them to know that they were a part of this human race just like everybody else.
BILL MOYERS: All right--
JAMES CONE: And they fought for that.
BILL MOYERS: All right, so I'm-- I have hope. What's next?
JAMES CONE: The next step is to connect with people who also have hope: blacks, whites, Hispanic, Asians, all different kinds of people. You have to connect and be around and organize with people who have hope.
BILL MOYERS: Organize?
JAMES CONE: Yes.
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean organize?
JAMES CONE: You organize to make the world the way it ought to be.
BILL MOYERS: And that--
JAMES CONE: And that is the beloved community. You have to have some witness to that. Even if it's a small witness of just you and me.
BILL MOYERS: You don't have to be angels to do that?
JAMES CONE: No, you don't have to be--
BILL MOYERS: Remember, if men were angels, we wouldn't need government.
JAMES CONE: That's-- that's--
BILL MOYERS: As the founding fathers--
JAMES CONE: --right.
BILL MOYERS: --said. We're not angels.
JAMES CONE: No, we're not angels-- no, we're not angels. But, in-- where there are two or three gathered, there is hope. There is possibility. And you don't want to lose that. That's why I keep teaching.
I came across the phrase through my friend Farah. I've done a google search, and I can only find that the phrase is connected to medicine or visual art. Although Farah was using it in context of being a bit opposed to the concept, I still feel drawn to it.
I'm figuring out what feels healing to me, re: responding to systems of oppression, and forming dialogues with people. Quite frankly, if I am to be a professor in the future, I really can't expect to respond with someone's gross remark by telling them "they're a smear of shit," even if that is what I initially believe - it's not conducive to getting them to change their behavior, it doesn't allow me to heal my pain, and it would probably leave me without a job.
In the tumblr view of things, explaining oppression to oppressive people, or in other words, unfavorables who routinely fuck up, is seen as either giving in to oppressive systems, watering something down, becoming an apologist, etc. Because these people have access to all the resources in the world, why is it that they can't just go out and look for them, and deal with the information by themselves? The ultimate fear is that we end up performing the work for them, or becoming in their eyes the "Magical Wise Negress" (or replace whatever fits your identity here).
I used to fear showing pain and hurt, because in the eyes of others, it meant that they had "won" against my feelings, that their argument meant more than them showing me empathy, and that I had to stop getting mad or stop visibly being upset to show that I could stand inch by inch against them, to prove that I wasn't weak or less powerful. If I felt myself becoming angry or threatened by my insides into becoming emotionally upset and as a result crying, I could just hurl and insult, disengage, and leave. Or, prnt screen an Internet conversation and hurl it over the person's head as a receipt to negatively shame them. It doesn't make me feel good to be routinely snarky, routinely cynical, and routinely have wounds that never attempt to heal.
I'm going to speak my truth, and I will always continue to speak my truth, but I can't respond to another person's hatred or ignorance or misguidedness with frustrated insults or negative shaming. I want to have conversation with them, peeling off layer from layer so that we can really talk with one another, in order to heal and do better. That doesn't mean that in doing so you disregard your boundaries, it does not mean you give into to the very systems of oppression you suffer from, and it does not mean allowing yourself to become manipulated for another person's gain. But it does mean telling the truth, it does mean putting yourself out there, it does mean residtance to a system that wants you to uphold distrust and ugliness, and it does mean a willingness to deconstruct bothered enemy and yourself.