On humanization

Some great advice from the recent bell hooks interview that ran in NYT’s The Stone —

George Yancy: What should we do in our daily lives to combat, in that phrase of yours, the power and influence of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy? What can be done on the proverbial ground?

bell hooks: I live in a small, predominantly white town in the Bible Belt. Rather than saying, “What would Jesus do?” I always think, “What does Martin Luther King want me to do today?” Then I decide what Martin Luther King wants me to do today is to go out into the world and in every way that I can, small and large, build a beloved community. As a Buddhist Christian, I also think of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s saying, “Let’s throw this pebble into the water, it may not go far in the beginning, but it will ripple out.” So, every day, I’m challenging myself, “What are you doing, bell, for the creation of the beloved community?” Because that’s the underground, local, insistence that I be a fundamental part of the world that I’m in. I’ve been to the Farmer’s Market, I’ve been to the church bazaar this morning. I really push myself to relate to people, that is, people that I might not feel as comfortable relating to. There are many Kentucky hillbilly white persons who look at me with contempt. They cannot turn me around. I am doing the same thing as those civil rights activists, those black folk and those white folk who sat in at those diners and who marched.

It’s about humanization. And I can’t think of another way to imagine how we’re going to get out of the crisis of racial hatred if it’s not through the will to humanize.

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