While the main focus of the Democratic National Convention is on creating the party platform and officially nominating a team to run for the office of president, many use this time to express their social and political views and advocate for change. This is supported by the numerous protests that have taken place on street corners and throughout the city of Charlotte this week.
The battle between views brings up a question about how we as a nation discuss important issues – and more importantly for blacks – how we discuss issues related to the black community and how we manage the fallout from these discussions.
This is a subject that former CNN reporter TJ Holmes will investigate each night on his late night talk show, “Don’t Sleep,” which will air on BET starting in October.
The show, according to Holmes , who stopped through Charlotte during the DNC, “Don’t Sleep” will provide an opportunity for blacks to bring their kitchen conversations to a national platform.
“There’s nothing like it on television right now. … There is nowhere [on television] we can go to have an honest conversation with ourselves and people can turn on the tv when they get home at night and see that conversation taking place. And outside our community, people can’t watch us and see where black people are having those honest conversations. We have them at our dinner tables all day long, but the whole rest of the world is not in our kitchen to know these conversations are taking place.”
But should black Americans have unfiltered conversations in public?
In his 1963, speech Message to the Grass Roots Malcolm X said black people should stop airing their differences in public. “Instead of airing our differences in public, we have to realize that we’re all the same family. And when you have a family squabble, you don’t get out on the sidewalk. If you do, everyone calls you uncouth, unrefined, uncivilized, savage. If you don’t make it home, you settle it at home; you get in the closet, argue it behind closed doors and then when you come out on the street, you pose a common front, a united front. And this is what we need to do in our community…”
In response Holmes says: “We have to be able to have an honest conversation with each other, about each other, without offending each other. Both sides bear a little responsibility. Sometimes we get a little too offended. We don’t have thick enough skin. So, why would the other side be honest if every time they do say an honest word we get defensive? We attack and it then we attack. Whether its politics, policy issues, social – whatever it may be – this is how we talk to each other and treat each other. We cannot have an adult conversation in this country. … This culture we have we can’t sit down disagree, have an honest conversation, get up shake hands and say let’s have a beer.”
Do you agree? Is it time for blacks to start having unfiltered conversations in public? Will these conversations help others better understand our culture and community or will they continue to perpetuate the negative stereotypes that currently exist?