Something We Can Agree On…

This past week I spent ample time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates National Conference. The experience was amazing as the conference had topics ranging from African influence in Mexico (vera cruz) to black identity & family reunions, healthy communication patterns between parents and children and Single Parent Households and policy implications.

There were a plethora of topics and presenters from all of over the world. YES world, and as I sat there and people watched for the duration of the conference I noticed 3 similarities amongst people from all over the world. What follows are my observations for the previous week.


1. People want to be recognized humanely as a human. After a presentation one of the founding members of the organization (as moderator) gave a riveting speech and lecture to the room. The room was full of people from every corner of the globe and when I say her speech was riveting and soulful you would have to imagine the speech given by Cicely Tyson in Madea’s Family Reunion and multiply it by 100. Every word that she spoke was followed the loudest silence I’ve ever heard. It was captivating in and of itself. Her message about the common denominator in all of us was the simpliest thing we all know but we so often forget. We all wanted to be recognized as human and receive the common dignity that comes from being human. Her words were far more eloquent and passionate than anything I could refer to in this blog but how she spoke and the commonality she expressed was echoed and applauded by people from Egypt, UAE, Ireland, Virgin Islands, Cuba, Suda Afrika and of course America. The people in the room were invigorated by her discourse and it can be said I was beyond motivated by her as well. She was easily 70 years old, a retired professor and now a traveling lecturer, the passion and wisdom that came from that woman was without a doubt a blessing to witness.

2. People want to be acknowledged for their efforts, no matter how big or small. This is probably the most fundamental denominator I noticed from every single person regardless of nationality or ethnicity. It may tap into the inner workings of our soul. The desire to be acknowledge for our efforts is a fundamental human trait. I noticed it via the heartbreak that many presenters experienced when only 2 or fewer persons attended their presentations. The pain that some of them experienced may be comical for some but to me I know what that feeling is like. To have worked tirelessly on a task, in this instance it was research, only to have no one pay attention or acknowledge your presence and not attend your presentation session is devastating. Similar to presenting in class and no one pays attention or no one asks questions and you feel as if you wasted all of your time, feeling somewhat belittled by the lack of acknowledgment. Some presentations were simply overlooked due to the volume of presentations per session in other rooms; everyone couldn’t have attended every presentation. But the sentiment expressed by the eagerness of individuals to want someone, just anyone to be present as they talked about their research was noticeable. This too is a fundamental human trait, and it is worth noting that everyone I engaged in conversation with about their research or poster presentation attended my session and participated. The interest I shared in them and their presentation was reciprocated towards me, perhaps intentionally or perhaps instinctively as it is natural to care or acknowledge someone who cares & acknowledges you.

More or Less..

3. People don’t really know and are out of touch with other cultures in ACTION. I noticed that people who were very educated or not very educated, knew of other cultures but never seen or experienced another culture up close and personal. This was most noticeable as the people from the Caribbean, India and people from the Arabian Peninsula were displaying their culture in the way they talked, dressed and/or prayed in public. As the global society is becoming more and more interconnected more and more cultures that have only been seen via TV are coming to our doorsteps, live and in color. The acceptance displayed by people was alarming. For example, As you seen a group from Puerto Rico walk past a group from India and they both stop and pause and marvel at each other was comical but it spoke to the innocent nature of simply not ever being exposed to another culture in person. I’m sure the students from both cultures have seen the different cultures on TV at least once in their life but the difference was noticeable when they came into close contact with a people whom they’ve never seen before. The same thing happened when a group from rural Louisiana saw Native West Africans for the first time. They stopped and watched them almost as if they were studying them almost museum like. They were baffled that they spoke French but were darker than the deepest Chocolate known to man. Mostly innocent, this interaction for the first time speaks to the changes that have taken place in the world, but have not taken place at the same time. We have remarkable access, and probably progressed, to other cultures via media but not as much access to them in action. In America we see many cultures day to day but in an American context. This time people saw cultures in their raw essence. People were unimpeded by American customs and were genuinely representative of their cultures.

Summary Points…

1. We are all human and want to be recognized as human first. We all want that common dignity that comes from being human displayed to us in the way we accept and interact with one another.

2. We all want to be acknowledged for our actions. No matter how significant or insignificant our actions were we want to be recognized. Not in the manner of applause or accolades but a simple moment of time and a spark of interest. The simple moment of gratitude displayed in brief seconds of attention is really what we all want from one another.

3. We are all knowledgeable and intelligent but we aren’t as aware or exposed as we think we are.



Join the Movement #SQUARES Unite