Some of the people who I wish to gather for counsel
Note: This post is part of #PublishEveryDay, a writing challenge I am doing to publish seven blog posts in seven days. I asked the social media sphere for writing prompts. Today’s prompt comes courtesy of Tyler Tucky.
1. Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an influential civil rights leader in her own right, as well as being known for her marriage to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She continued the push for racial equality after he was assassinated and became a strong advocate for women’s and LGBT rights, before her death in 2006.
She founded the King Center and fought to preserve Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, such as creating a national holiday in his honor. To be honest, I did not know much about Coretta until I visited the King Center during my summer in Atlanta. I was astonished to learn how she tirelessly supported King, while fighting for equality, putting herself in danger and raising a family.
Her help was crucial to King’s success and she arguably exhibited an even greater degree of humility than King for the impact of her work. This being the case, I think that Coretta Scott King would have important lessons for modern social justice advocates about remaining passionate for a cause in the face of great loss, barriers or doubt.
My question: How do you stay true to a mission and yourself in the wake of devastating personal loss or sacrifice?
2. Ta-Nehisi Coates
I first encountered Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing in The Atlantic with “The Case for Considering Reparations” and, more recently, “Bernie Sanders and the Liberal Imagination.” Coates works as a correspondent for The Atlantic and was a 2015 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, or “Genius Grant.”
Currently, I am reading his best-selling book “Between the World and Me.” The memoir is a series of letters to his son about being black in America. Each letter is packed with prose that challenges white readers to acknowledge realities about racial inequality. My copy of the book is getting dangerously close to having more sections underlined and starred than not.
I love Coates’ balance of personal narratives and biting statistics in his writing. The reparations article is filled with accounts of American citizens that are seamlessly interwoven in an argument of economics, dignity and equality. I would love to learn how he crafted such a style.
Coates is no doubt an outspoken individual. His public stances on issues are not hard to discern. So, it may seem odd why I would choose him to ask for advice. However, in reading “Between the World and Me” I am curious about how to move beyond the typical white reaction to the book of simply being troubled by descriptions of racial inequality in America.
My hope is that Coates would speak to the apathy by whites toward race relations. I will never truly understand what it means to be a different race in the United States, but that cannot inhibit action on behalf of equality.
My question: How can whites best fight for racial equality and bridge the divide between action and apathy in their own communities?
3. Nicholas Kristof
Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the New York Times and author of “Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears.” Full disclosure: I applied to Kristof’s 2016 Win-A-Trip contest for young journalists and applied to be his assistant. His inclusion in this list is not a calculated career move. I genuinely would like his counsel.
Yes, I have a tendency to tweet out Kristof’s articles or blog about them. I do this because I am drawn to his style of journalism, which sheds light on under-reported issues, such as Myanmar’s human rights violations or the commercial sex trade, and brings awareness to people fighting for social change, such as a Nepalese doctor waging a war on blindness. Solutions-driven journalism is a goal of mine, along with my aspirations to report on human rights.
Kristof covers solutions and human rights in his columns, which is why I would like to hear his thoughts about the education of young journalists
My question: How would you amend journalism training, either in higher education or entry-level jobs, to create more socially conscious and humanitarian-minded journalists?
Bonus person, because I had trouble deciding and I’m the author, so I get the liberty of changing the rules.
4. James (brother of Jesus)
Theologians debate whether James was a half-brother, adopted brother or stepbrother of Jesus. The bishop of Jerusalem was one of the 12 apostles and was martyred some time in the 60s AD.
The Book of James in the Bible is by far my favorite because of its focus on how faith is not sedentary. According to the epistle, faith should spur action by Christians on behalf of the poor and marginalized.
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” -James 2:18 (NIV)
I think James would have a lot to say about the stagnant faith exhibited by modern Christians. Much as he does in the ancient text, James would likely hold nothing back in calling out those around him, myself included, to do more. I would not expect to have a pleasant dinner conversation with James, but rather a challenging interaction that would leave me with a lot to think, and likely write, about.
My question: How would you describe ‘faith producing works’ in a modern world so dependent on personal growth and success?