This posting is light, with potential for depth. Engage at your leisure:
That has been an increasingly major theme for me over the past several weeks.
Learning new information.
Learning a truer form of service.
Learning other forms of effective leadership.
& for this learning:
No degree program, enrollment or tuition is required.
The trifecta of an open mind, heart and ears – alongside a notebook and pen –
goes a long way.
In this spirit of learning, I’ve had many opportunities over the past few months, including special meetings, community workshops, national events, local conferences, and even exposure visits – to see the community and work of other AIF Fellows.
One of the learning spaces in which I was most excited to engage was a lecture held several weeks ago, entitled “Building Solidarity Between African Americans and Dalits”, where Jesse Jackson Sr. was the keynote speaker. The connection and dialogues between these two communities – Black Americans and Dalits – was a key factor to me “falling in love” with India over ten years ago. So, to say I was excited for this lecture, and the accompanying dialogue, would perhaps be an understatement.
My expectations of the lecture were different than what transpired, but still, it was valuable. Mr. Jackson spoke broadly about the separate and collective histories of the two communities, and what the potential was for – and purpose of – further engagements.
There were references to Malcolm (X), (Dr. Martin Luther) King (Jr.), (Mahatma) Gandhi and (Dr. B.R.) Ambedkar.
There was an exhortation to resist injustice through civil engagement, not through internalized and misdirected anger.
Then came the refreshingly practical claim about the role of these two communities in economies and businesses – both local and global.
There was a singular voice speaking, and many ears listening, thinking, processing.
What Jesse Jackson gave was energy, mantras, and possibilities.
Then, questions were raised:
People questioned the realism of this vision of unity, the tensions that currently exist for Africans in certain Indian communities (and vice versa), and the utility of creating a formal alliance and what that might look like.
And then, Jesse Jackson asked some questions too, like: “What is the cost of jailing an Indian for a year versus educating that person?”
But few of these questions were fully addressed in that limited session, and that is okay. That, in itself, has been a learning for me. As my mentor/supervisor has repeatedly said to me about the work in which I engage: “It’s okay to leave things open sometimes; at the least, know that it is out there”.
Thus, in the processes of learning, and in this journey of serve, learn, lead, perhaps Mr. Jackson’s directives of: “Research –> Education –> Negotiation –> Demonstration” is worth consideration as well.