It’s been a while but here is my return. I along with millions of others have been following this story, this beef between Micheal Eric Dyson and Cornel West. Listen, Micheal can have all the beef he chooses, he can have pounds of it, just so long as he’s expressing his beef with words. I love his voice, I could literally listen to him read the phone book. He is the most eloquent and articulate person alive. While listening to him I love how I dance between needing a dictionary and an encyclopedia, to then shimmy over to his urban colloquialisms reminiscent of 90’s New Jack Swing. He makes me want to devour books as this may be the only way I might have a measure of his linguistic word play. I just love this dude.
So there’s this interview I’m watching now with Marc Lamont Hill of the Huffington Post where he’s interviewing Dyson about the undeniable fall of Cornel West. As I’m typing this with my right hand and my 4 year old fidgets himself to sleep in my left arm, I realize this interview is reaching me further than the two characters at it’s helm. Of course there is the structural references of black intellectuals and leadership, yes. In defending himself of whether his article will cause more harm than help to black folk Michael introduces a new term, “emotional justice.” He poses this question with a question, was anyone asking this of West when he came out and called Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton white house coons, among other slanderous terms he’s generously offered many in leadership? Was this not the tearing down a black leaders? There was no argument against these senseless tirades pouring from the mouth of this legendary leader revered so highly by the Black community. As West compared himself to Biblical prophets and to MLK, Dyson recalls not ever having heard Martin call anyone out of their name. The tearing down of black leadership by West himself was responded to with the familiar sound of late summer nights… crickets. Now that Michael has shed light on the things West has been spewing for years, how is it only now that this article is guilty of tearing down black leaders? I suppose we tend to take a little salt and pepper in the hair and beard and suddenly harsh words can be disguised as helpful ones. The last time I checked you cant call someone a coon and then end your phrase with, “I say this in love,” and somehow that person is a loved coon. Any more than you could candy coat a rock with chocolate sprinkles, it would still be a rock, it would break your teeth and not be edible. Dr West has not spoken in love, not in the least, his words only leave extreme indigestion.
So this is the license I just received from my new friend who doesn’t know he’s my friend. Micheal Eric Dyson just told me to tell my story by telling his. When I tell my story, when I talk about the harm and havoc caused by people I love, as Dyson loves West, I will be accused of the same thing that he has been. I will be accused of being the trouble starter when in all actuality the trouble started in the trouble. The announcing of that trouble will not be the problem, although some will miss this truth, I will tell my story anyway. I have the right for emotional justice. And just as Dyson has done for me today, I will be helping someone by aborting my silence. I will give someone else a voice who may not have a platform. In an environment where there is no judge or jury for emotional offenses, social media, blogs, and journalism are great platforms to proclaim the right to have one’s case heard. There are some that will be highly upset that I dare tell my story as they played leading protagonist roles in it. But I’m not telling my story for them. There is no hidden vengeance but yet a justice to be sought. To expose wrong would only be to value myself. To call out that which proclaims to be love but is far from it is by true definition, loving myself. I will write it, I will make it plain. As Langston Hughes once said, “Someday someone will write about me…. it will be me I reckoned, yep, it will be me.”
Thank you Micheal Eric Dyson for helping me not only find my voice but for offering me the courage to actually use it.
Marc Lamont Hill Interviews Michael Eric Dyson- http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/michael-eric-dyson-cornel-west/5534433178c90a5e420005fc