Full of passion and power as she reflected on the current state of our community, Susan Taylor called for a very important conversation. Her aim, she explained during her introduction of Belafonte, was to gather our community leaders and mentors for a virtual town hall discussion in order to gain guidance from elder, actor, activist, and singer Harry Belafonte. At 86, his fire for revolution is still not only burning, but igniting other fires. Hosted by author and activist Asha Bandele, she kept the conversation fluid and very productive (although I personally thought the heart of the conversation was in the Q&A session). I still don’t know how Asha was able to lift the community up like that. She is a very skillful mediator. It felt like a conversation, and not an interview. I did join the cue to ask a question, but I wasn’t called upon. There were some really great questions asked, and to be honest Belafonte’s answers only ignited other questions inside of me. Not necessarily questions for him, but questions nonetheless. The discussion was a point of reflection and healing for me. We even got to hear from poet, educator, and publisher Haki Madhubuti.
At the start of the call, Mr. Belafonte went right into the agenda of the media. He stated very matter-of-factly that many media outlets have their own agendas, and those agendas are not always rooted in the truth. I totally agree with him. However, my question is how do we teach this to the masses? How do I stop I my neighbor from looking at the Balitmore riots as simple thuggery?
Another good point he brought up regarded the use of technology in this new movement. Mr. Belafonte said we should be grateful that our technology can be a resource. Of course, this makes perfect sense; our computers, tablets, and smart phones help give us a voice and platform. However, just as anybody with these resources can use them for good, there are equal or higher numbers of people using these resources to start confusion. How do we as a community take our power back? For every positive post there are three negative ones to compete with.
When asked for his thoughts on the lack of exposure given to the cases of black women being murdered by police, Belafonte said that women had not been vocal enough. He stated, “Women have the power to stop the world, whereas men can only dream about that.” I felt so empowered by this statement, but my question is how exactly do we stop the world? I am ready…
You guys know I love talking about the hard subjects. The conversation was extremely inspiring. It made me think about my space, my perseverance, and the legacy I want to leave behind. This was a great conversation, and an amazing way to spend my Wednesday night.