Where do I begin?! I guess I’ll begin by copy and pasting my Facebook post about my experience on last night. To quote myself, “People who know me know that tonight was a dream come true. I got to meet and chat with my (soror) shero Melissa Harris-Perry. Not only did I get to hear a deep lecture about Ferguson that adeptly and thoroughly connected racial inequality, residential inequality, economic inequality, pop culture, and George Romney to that terrible injustice; but I also got to ask the last question of the evening and MHP’s response was everything I could have asked for and more. I am even more inspired #FiredUpInTheBestWayPossible to do the work. #TheStruggleContinues As she signed my book we talked about our various connections #UVa #DST #Duke. Thank’s KG for all you did to make tonight happen. — with Kevin Jason Gin at Boston College.”
Yeah so that happened! …when I get overwhelmed and have so much to say in my writing I revert to my most preferred method of communication: lists. (KG get it together.) So here goes my highlights from last night in bullets (ummm some irony right there).
My MHP @ BC FA14 highlights:
- I’ve been to a lot of teach-ins, presentations, forums, symposia, conferences, etc. but it’s been a loooooong time since I felt like an undergrad (UVa ’00) in a lecture hall. Last night I had multiple flashbacks of days in my Government (American Politics concentration) & African American Studies lectures (including Julian Bond’s History of the Civil Rights Movement course). I’m not gonna lie, while I loved the small seminars of grad school (UVM ’06), I had a deep appreciation for that lecture hall style educational experience …which is no doubt connected to nostalgia and not my love for lecture style classes.
- As for the lecture itself, it was #Everything. Let me know if you’d like to see my notes.
My question for her & a paraphrase of her response.
- Q: I’m not a parent yet but I’ve been blessed to call so many other folks children my own including my now college-age niece and nephew; my friends kids, a ton of middle school through college-age kids through my work as an educator; and more recently I’ve been blessed to get to know a few of the Dream Defenders. I call them my kids too. I’m even hosting two of them this coming weekend as they visit Tufts University [from Florida] for the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference. What would you say is the most important attitude or approach we could be teaching our kids about growing up in the USA today? You’re a mom [she had her little baby girl with her] so I imagine you think about this fairly regularly yourself.
- A: On this I will simply share the highlights cause I cannot capture the I really wanted to record her response but she was talking directly to me the entire time so I didn’t. …as KG said, “Recorded in your brain [I'll add and in my soul]. All that matters.”
- Don’t teach the next generation what our truths are… …on that she shared an anecdote about how a young lady mentioned to her that they were in the same in that they are both biracial. MHP responded to the girl, “I don’t know about you but I’m Black. You need to go outside and be Black.” …she shared that as she later reflected on her own response she realized it came from growing up in the South at a time when you were Black or white: there was no such thing as biracial. But she realized for this generation that identifying as biracial is both real and liberating.
- She shared that she’s down for the kids reconstructing identity and redefining the struggle so long as they know what they are reconstructing and redefining. EG teach the kids the history and teach it well. …but don’t just tell the kids, encourage them to ask questions of us and give them real answers.
- As you can imagine I was already in and then she took it there… …many folks don’t know that MHP is also a theologian having studied theology and divinity at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. She shared that she knows that Martin Luther King Jr. met God and God showed him the mountain top. She said that she knows that because while MLK told us about the mountaintop – that it exists. that it’s real. – he did not tell us what he saw; he did not tell us what it looked like. She said like the reason babies can’t speak for their first year it’s because they would tell us way too much about what they know, but forget, on their journey to us. She said it’s not about heaven or hell: it’s just about knowing what God allows us to know before and after this time down here.
- Our fathers. During her lecture she shared an anecdote that, even as a small child, her dad would sign cards, “The Struggle Continues, daddy.” You can see that she signs each book with that salutation. I did not get to share with her, but it’s very real, that one very important reason I am who I am around the work is that my father had me watching Eyes on the Prize every few months since I was in third grade. That and his and my mama’s tremendous storytelling about growing up in the South in the 40′s through 60′s.
- UVA. She asked me where I went to school and I said UVa. She said, “My father was the first Dean of African American students at UVa.” I knew that but I’d forgotten that.
- Duke. I worked at Duke and she received her Ph.D. from Duke. She said to me, “We kept just missing each other.”
- DST. She’s my soror. She pledged the Pi Omicron chapter at Wake Forest. I’m not sure the year. I pledged the Kappa Rho chapter at UVa in ’99. #1KPSP99
- #DJH. There is one last thing that I’ll need to post later for fear of blowing a surprise. I will post the update later.
- Last last last I wrote this on my facebook Nay, my best friend and soror, “Nay look at how 5-0 is grillin’ me in that pic!?! …I could write a whole paper (or Astroland blog post) or create a presentation on that dynamic alone!! …ummmmmm I may just do that. MHP shared that his presence was due to death threats she receives daily. So he was there to protect her. …and her little baby girl!! She had the baby with her. …I took lil mama’s pic but I don’t post other folks children w/o their permission…”
That’s all I’ve got. Enjoy the pics. Let me know if you wish to see my notes from the lecture.