Thank Black Thinkers
Sergio Perez (TheLorian)
Duhawks, February is Black History/Heritage Month! Our campus has a variety of programming this year and while Black History is noted nationally as February, at Loras we are doing our part to drive the point home that Black excellence and Black heritage cannot be captured in one month.
Black heritage/history also includes Black thinkers and I offer the names and impacts of some Black thinkers who have absolutely informed how I hope to navigate the world…whether it’s though the diversity, equity, and inclusion work I do or my own appreciation of how they navigated and lived life.
- bell hooks
A Queer Black Woman who has written so much on gender, race and class. Her names is intentionally left in lowercase as she attempted to have her work focus on the intellectual work versus the individual writing it. In addition, bell hooks is a pseudonym and not her actual name. Her most famous phrase she coined is, “imperialist, capitalist, white supremacist patriarchy” as she described the interlocking of oppressive structures holding so many back and awarding the few in the world. bell hooks teachings appear in books, short articles, interviews, etc. for all to see. Her most impactful work for me was her book, “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love” where she tackles how men and masculinity have been limited by society and the role we, as men, women, as beings limit the full expression of masculinity and how it is connected to violence against women and men today. Our Loras Library has 20 of her books, check them out!
- James Baldwin
Gay, Black thinker and writer, often referred to as King Baldwin, is known for his activism through his writing and speeches. Understanding oppression through the lens of not only class and race but as living as a Gay man, Baldwin’s work critiqued the USA’s inability to understand and move forward for greater civil rights for all. As he embraced his sexuality he was distanced from the mainstream Civil Rights movement but still held a very influential role in empowering individuals for greater acceptance and a greater care for one another. One of my favorite lines by James Baldwin comes from an interview he did for the documentary, “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket” where he responds to a question of civil rights progress, he says:
“What is it you want me to reconcile myself to?…You always told me it takes time. It has taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brothers’ and my sisters’ time, my nieces’ time, and my nephews’ time. How much time do you want for your “progress?”
Our Loras Library holds over 30 books by or about James Baldwin.
- Audre Lorde
You guessed it right…another Queer thinker…Audre Lorde was a Black Lesbian writer. Her work draws parallels to Baldwin and hooks’ work yet she distinctly stands on her own merit because of the infusion of social issues impacting Black lives in her poetry. Her poetry and writing like hooks’ is the foundation of many modern womanist and feminist writings today. Lorde understood and stressed the understanding that oppression of one meant the oppression of all. One of her famous quotes reads: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Today her poetry and writing has inspired many today to participant in activism through writing. Our Loras Library holds over 10 copies by or featuring Audre Lorde.
Black thinkers have offered so much through history and heritage. This year I encourage our entire campus community to read and engage this work. Prepare to feel challenged, prepare to disagree, but do not miss out on the intellectual curiosity these thinkers brought not only to the Civil Rights Movements they lived/are living through and reflect on how their writing still resonates with the ongoing struggle for greater human rights for all. This Black History/Heritage month, this year, read and thank Black thinkers for the intellectual foundation for greater human rights we are able to stand on today.