What are some of your favorite quotations? What meaning/significance do they have for you? (Were they inspired by a role model, life event, etc.?)
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that "[t]he ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." That quote resonates deeply with me. Everyone can get along when it’s easy to get along, when bills are paid and everyone’s smiling. But look how quickly things change when people have to make difficult, unpopular choices?
Another powerful quote that I like comes from Barack Obama, when he delivered his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn; they know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things… people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all… they know we can do better. And they want that choice.”
When we keep that in mind, that achievement and success is acting white, then please tell me what acting black is? Is that what we should aspire to? All of America should re-evaluate these things.
I also like Jack Johnson’s mantra: “You don’t define me, I define me.” One should always stay true to oneself and one’s own priorities. In addition, they should also be able to live up to any related consequences.
Another quotation that I love comes from Robert Johnson. He once said that individuals should “make [their] friends before [they] need them.” People should harness that inner power to accomplish things. In the end, it’s funny to see how things always tend to work out.
What is your perspective of race in America?
Unfortunately, we are not very far from the turn-of-the-century question posed by W.E.B. DuBois. Even in the 21st century, much of American life is defined by the color line. In regard to race, America has such an ugly and deeply entrenched culture. It’s almost like the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Most certainly, we have made some progress. Without question, I can do more things that W.E.B. DuBois could in his day. Until we start to move past some things, however, there is a lot of progress left to be made. That being said, America is supposed to be a meritocracy. If someone has good ideas and works hard, race is a small hurdle. Granted, some energy will be needed to overcome it, but it is false to say that it cannot be overcome. Make no mistakes, though, it is there. One only has to look at the large educational disparities, disproportionately high incarceration rates and limited economic opportunities to see that. I do, however, firmly believe that if one never gives up, one day they will succeed.