This post is going to challenge many of you. Me too. That's okay. It's important anyway.
Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US. This annual focus on the continuing problems of race and oppression is one of the things I miss most about living in America. In the light of that, I would like to share with you a project from a beloved friend. He and two of his friends in New York are committing to a year of only watching and taking in media created by people of colour.
This affects me, quite directly...Nico isn't going to be reading my blog or my academic work this year. As a cherished friend and valued co-intellectual, this is a direct loss, and perhaps a bit of a blow to my ego.
But that's okay. Nico is doing this because in too many places in the world, my voice and my words and my writing are louder than his and other persons of colour. Nico is doing this because every day, the majority of the books, movies, television shows, art, and information that enters my brain originates from people who look, sound, and think like me. That is not true for him, or for the majority of people of colour in America.
And it's time that changed. There is beautiful, heart-breaking, soul-moving, mind-changing media out there by persons of colour. And it deserves all of our attention, not just Nico's. And it doesn't deserve our attention only or because it is by persons of colour. It deserves our attention because media shapes who we are and how we see the world. And we must take in a wide variety of perspectives if we have any hope of seeing the world for everything that it is and can be.
Nico's project in no way undermines that white people can write good books, or author articles that challenge issues of racism, or produce fun television. It is an effort to showcase how much of what our society creates and intakes is white, in direct contrast to the glorious diversity that our society actually is. It is an effort to experience how much your mindset and worldview can shift depending on what you feed your brain. It is a challenge to all of us to more consciously consider how we shape ourselves and our knowledge.
There's a powerful irony to the fact that Nico won't be reading these words on my blog. At least not for a year. But there's also a powerful hope, I think. Hope that he finds undiscovered gems that shake him and his worldview. Hope that following his journey will give me a very needed shake-up as well. And hope that reading this will, in some small way, encourage you to reflect on these issues.