In a recent podcast episode, when I asked the deeply admirable activist Kevin Hester what is the one message to convey to the global humanitarian community, he responded, “First, I would ask them to tell the bloody truth.” Indeed.
Far too often, humanitarian organizations worldwide are completely invisible to their own privilege, espousing a desire to help others, but basking in ignorance of their own internal orientations–racial, class, geopoltical, religious, gender…every category that ultimately divides us.
Case and point: the criticism years ago of Erykah Badu’s African travels was really about the arrogant tirades of unaware and privileged humanitarian organizations with collectively immature egos, unable to see the forest through the trees of an unparalleled musician, artist, philanthropist, and activist in her native Dallas.
For humanitarians, it’s time to wake up. Time to get better. Far better.
Erykha Badu’s career of artistic expression has painted more of the human soul’s map than the vast majority of human beings will be able to achieve in multiple lifetimes. Her music, art, philanthropy and activism in Dallas and far beyond is a symbol of the very best archetype of humanitarianism we have. Her legacy is an archetypal symbol of transformation we desperately need to transform our cognitive definition of what the very word “humanitariansim” means.
Kevin Hester is right…humanitarians, tell the bloody truth. And please, don’t speak if you don’t listen, very deeply, first.
Watch, and listen (posted Feb 29, 2016):