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021_ Interview: a uniquely american love story

06 April, 2021 - 6 min read

021_ Interview: a uniquely american love story

Dr. Martin Luther King said there was two Americas, one of prosperity and another of struggle. This is likely a shorthand for a much deeper truth; there has always been the dominant culture in America that imposes what the guardrails are to freedom, what is allowed to be accepted and what is fought with hellfire and at the peril of our jails.

“There has always been the dominant culture in America that imposes what the guardrails are to freedom, what is allowed to be accepted and what is fought with hellfire and at the peril of our jails.”

Then there’s another half that lives within this dominant culture, that’s given space and expectation to thrive in however way that has been defined relative to the time.

This other half, is made up of a multitude of segments that just as the dominant culture changes over time, changes as well.

These many Americas, existing all under the myth of freedom, give birth to a multiplicity of uniquely American experiences.

One of those uniquely American experiences is how those that risk life, liberty and their family’s security to better the cause of the many, fade distantly into history while their legacies are unknown.

We forget how hard people had to fight the status quo for something as commonly ubiquitous as a bikini top to be worn, for stand up comedy to exist, or for the purposes of this episode, for love to prosper between individuals that have more melanin in their skin.

Here’s a cornerstone of this series that I’m going to continue to build upon as we progress together; what is the emergent quality?

When we step aside and look at something wholly, analyze the factors and honestly engage, how did this that we’re viewing come to be?

What were the conditions that needed to be present initially, how did the right steps happen at the right time, for this rose to emerge out of the concrete?

Slavery is as old as we have time, that’s a fact. For as long as humans have a record of cultural interchange, there’s a record of slavery.

Something that during the time of Jesus of Nazareth was thought of as being so ubiquitous, it’s absent from his teachings.

Not, because he agreed with it, but perhaps because it was seen as something so unavoidable, it’s better to focus one’s teachings on how to bring oneself to individual salvation, than rage against that machine.

Slavery on the Turtle Island which we now label as North America, existed before Europeans entered the shores. However, how it transformed into a truly global enterprise, iterated over and over again to increase efficiency, to say nothing of the slavery import ban enshrined in our constitution and all the horrible effects that road to perdition caused, is something that both emerged from the time in which it occurred in, as it was later shaped by the country that emerged with it.

America’s legacy with the diaspora that came from the continent we call Africa, is incredibly fraught with suffering, ideology and intentional ignorance.

Whether we are comfortable with it or not, the culture of black Americans for much of their history was a result of the situations they were forced into and how they shaped themselves out of it.

It gave us as a species immense gifts, like the blues and jazz, of which without it we wouldn’t have gotten a whole mess of music or other mediums.

The legacy and scarring of black history is American, even if this country, my country, was time and time again intentionally trying to caste them outside of the dominant culture.

Life is what we individually make of it in spite of our circumstances and sufferings, and a country is made up of what we collectively encourage to flourish.

For as American as it is to be white and upper class, is it to be black and cast aside.

The unique story of America is in large part, due to the facets that exist at opposite one another.

It’s American to be wildly rich, as it is to be wildly poor in the same city, sometimes even across the street or homeless on a millionaire’s stoop.

America is the story of blood and toil just as much as milk and honey.

And, For me, I won’t have an idea where we should go, if I don’t better understand where we’ve been.

My guest for this episode has helped me both before we met and after talking, in a deeply intimate manner helped me better understand what the African Diaspora in America has had to endure.

Love flourishes in safety and frequently dies in distress.

So what would happen to a group of people who have spent the better part of 200 years under distress? What conundrums, conflicts and sufferings would emerge from that?

Well, Dr. Diane Stewart has some light to shed on that, along with wisdom through empathy and compassion.

Dr. Stewart is a professor of Theology at Emory University and author of an impeccable book I encourage you to add to your shelf — especially if this is out of your comfort zone or knowledge.

Black Women Black love, America’s War on African American Marriage

It’s an incredibly intimate, personal and historical work.

I spend a lot of my free time reading some truly startelening things in an attempt to better understand the reality I find myself caught within. But I cannot recall another time in recent memory where I had to pause what I was reading from finding myself so overwhelmed with emotion and an inescapable feeling of heartache.

It’s not all doom and gloom! And in the time when identity is front and center, I encourage all who hear this to dive into the book to encourage their own growth.

My interview with Dr. Stewart covers a lot of ground, from what is the definition of love, what emerges out of love, untold stories and aspects of culture that emerged under slavery, the lasting legacy of, to put it lightly, constrained economic policies on the black community, before ending with some thoughts on America as a Christian nation hell bent on salvation.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her and am ecstatic to speak with her again about life, love and pursuit of our own individual contentment.

Aaaannnnndddd with that, we got some music, call to action, a bit of the blues, and then my interview with Professor and author Dr. Diane Stewart.

As always, thank you for listening!

-J.R.

This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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