Community is Built on Communication: Charles M. Blow at Goucher

Article Written by Kianna Haskin 

Charles M. Blow filled the Kraushaar Auditorium with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm as he spoke on topics that are ever so pressing on the citizens of the United States. I sat waiting for him to provoke me with questions to fill up my mind.

Blow’s words pricked curious brains and plucked the heart-strings of many in the audience as he brought up questions we all should be asking ourselves about the community we live in. He encouraged his listeners to discuss the topics that our society deems dangerous as they might spark hatred and rivalry between one another. A healthy discussion should have multiple views and opposing opinions.

We should start conversations about equality for women and for all races and ethnicities. Not only is it morally correct but as citizens of the United States, we need to start living up to our nickname: The Melting Pot. The United States is a mix match of people and cultures, and we as citizens of the land need to start acknowledging that.

“Community is built on communication. We need to learn how to have a conversation about race and identity and LGBTQ and identity and ethnicities and religious differences and immigration as casually as we would discuss family and sports and music and…we have to talk about these things till we are no longer afraid to talk about these things,” Blow said.

He spoke of his privileges amongst society primarily in regards to being a man. Blow addressed his battle with oppression for being an African-American man and encourages people of color or disadvantaged groups to face these oppressions head on and not to let anything stop them from achieving their goals.

We should open up to one another and break down stereotypes. Goucher, after all, is supposed to be a school of global citizens with the understanding of others cultures beyond their own.

“Time and energy and passion are limited commodities every second of time, and every ounce of energy I spend dealing with oppression is time and energy siphoned away from me doing my work and loving my family and engaging with my community….If you are not actively working against oppression you are for it,” Blow said.

Blow wants us to question our privileges amongst society. He made it clear that we need to understand our privileges and acknowledge those who are above or below us on the hill in our journey to the idealized top.

Where are you on this hill to the idealized top?

“For some folks, life is a hill, and there are only two options. You climb it, or you stay at the bottom. It is not fair, and it is not right, but it is so. Some folks are born halfway up the hill, others are born all the way at the top, and the rest of us are not. Life doles out favors in different measures… Conversely, if you are born halfway up a hill or all the way at the top recognize the privilege of that position and empathize with those who have to struggle just to draw even…. And by all means, stop trying to convince the people who are now on the hill that there is no damn hill. You have to stop, listen and receive other people’s experiences, validate those experiences and honor the feelings with those experiences are expressed, and you have to center the speaker and not the listener. It is not just about you. You can’t know what another person is experiencing in this country or in this world.”

Blow encourages us to act together. We must fight for equality for others and to stop feeding into the fire that is called oppression. We must start conversations that begin a movement toward change.

Photograph credit: Charles Blow’s Facebook Page 

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