Morning Spoken Word: Suheir Hammad

September 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

While I’m putting together my thoughts in response to your deeeep post, here’s a vid I pulled out. Still relevant (and love to all my New Yorkers after this weekend’s anniversary).

Embracing Self, Embracing Others

April 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


First off, this post inspired me to put Badu on repeat for a day.  Best decision. Some artists just put you in a good state of mind, and she’s one of them.

To me, these questions of the individual versus the group emphasize our interconnectedness. Even as we strive to be individuals, we connect with others every day. And we find ourselves struggling to speak with a unique voice, sometimes in opposition to a louder collective voice (the group). Erykah Badu is challenging us to act as individuals, to be ourselves, even if doing so draws criticism and rancor from other people. To do otherwise is a form of dishonesty.

However, we do categorize ourselves in groups, and within every group, there are more categories. We see ourselves as individuals, even while we identify with some people more than others. Even when we’re trying to be “countercultural” we’re creating a culture (goths, hipsters, etc). We live and we connect. The no man (or woman) is an island kinda thing.

And so you’re point is valid, and I’d like to add to it: how do we embrace ourselves as individuals while accepting others as individuals as well? 

Individuality becomes a problem when we confuse our thoughts, actions and experiences (and those whom we most identify with) as the sole “truth.”  Instead, we must acknowledge that our experiences and our “self” can contribute to social solidarity only as we acknowledge the truth that others bring from their experience and “self.”

But, it gets difficult. How do I respond to someone, as an individual, who will not respond to me as such? For example, if I want to “speak truth to power,” how do I do so while recognizing those in power as individuals, even as their power may not recognize my, or others, individuality (or personhood)? And what do I do when I’m the power truth is being told to?

But, hey, that’s the real problem: execution. Being an individual that will work alongside other individuals for the benefit of ourselves and others. In the end, we’ll always be battling for a holistic movement that appreciates difference – and mostly, the battle will be fought within ourselves.

Side note: This didn’t fit anywhere but I can’t help mentioning it – the other danger is using “individuality” as a cover. Because, honestly, how many times have you heard someone say, “I just had to do me,” and you rolled your eyes? Often that line comes as a justification for destructive behavior. Often we don’t actually know who we are or what we’re doing. But I guess that’s why we have friends.

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