Meeting Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
One of the highlights of my week was meeting Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. As an author he goes by Michael Eric Dyson, but I emphasize the PhD 1) because it’s easy to forget and 2) because he made a joke that I found hilarious about being called n*gger and reminding the racist to call him Professor or Dr. N*gger.
Dyson is one of the realest men I’ve ever met, and that’s why I told him I felt so honored to meet him. Lecturing, preaching, and writing to others without finding it necessary to start sugarcoat or mince words is super dope to me. He’s basically my role model. Looking at how bold he is, you might think, he must not have been through some real tough shit, but if you read and listen, you know better.
I met Dyson at a library hosted event for his book Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. The auditorium was packed with black people and a few of the bravest white people I’ve ever met. Dyson didn’t bite his tongue in front of an audience anymore than he did in his book. He doesn’t diss white people by any means, he just states things so plainly that I can’t imagine that the average white American would feel comfortable listening. He talked about reparations, the hypocrisy of downplaying identity while reasserting the value of the white working class, racism as a government project. He even talked about black people expressing themselves at the movie theater, especially during Get Out. I about fell out my chair thinking about the time I went to the see the movie and my friend and I were yelling at the screen, “Aw, shit!”
He kept it real with black Americans, too, don’t you fret. He called out anyone, especially blacks, who advocated for voting down ballot. He stated so plainly what I deigned to say to my own friends–Hillary and Trump were never equal, so not voting for Hillary is just plain irresponsible. Trump’s “lethal ignorance” has also invited white supremacists into positions of power, defunded the arts, and placed the U.S. at odds with other nations and the Earth’s climate. That’s not even mentioning Russia! But I digress…
He talked about how the NAACP tried to bury the word n*gger “and like Jesus, it rose again.” I found this hilarious and insightful because he welcomed that difficult position where you’re comfortable with saying “my n*gga” until non-blacks start rapping it. It is what it is, but we can’t erase a word, nor the meaning that was given to it historically and presently.
He took jabs at Ben Carson, and not the normal Uncle Tom stuff. No he’s creative. He said, and I’m only mildly paraphrasing, “Having money don’t make you smart, even if you’re a brain surgeon who can separate twins. Separate yourself from that bullshit.” Man, I love Dyson.
He even kept it real about Obama. He admitted that by staying outside of politics he has more expressive freedom, but there’s still power in what someone can do on the inside, even if they have to compromise. He spelled it out like this: Sure, Obama wants to do all of the things, but what he’s not gonna do is let the banks close. Imagine the headline First Black President Lets the Bank Close for the First Time in American History. It’s a wrap for black presidents. This is the type of crap a black politician has to balance.
I could go on and on about all of the things that made me want to holler. I wonder if I can join Dyson’s church so he can give me life like he did this week. It’s just so refreshing to be around someone who gets it, and can tell you about it, too.