W.E.B. DuBois

What is My Plan?

At the turn of the millennium, January 2000, a friend posted this question to the online community: citing that W.E.B. Dubois identified race as the defining problem of the twentieth century, my friend asked “What is your plan to counter this problem for the next millennium?”  In response to this question, I wrote a short essay.

It has become my mantra in thesis form. It both inspires me and holds me accountable.  Fifteen years later, it still encapsulates my theology and personal ethic.

Here is what I wrote:

What is my plan for the 21st century?

            I plan to do everything possible to usurp the power ethic that overwhelms this world today and replace it with an ethic of love.  I will first acknowledge that the power ethic demoralizes more than just by race alone, it also condemns by class, gender, orientation, and cultural ethnicity (both separately and in combination with race).  That means that whites oppress blacks, yes, but it also means that rich oppress poor, that men oppress women, that developed oppress underdeveloped, that majority oppress marginalized.

            I will overcome this ethic by negating the social, economic, and cultural structures that support it.  I will refuse to be a victim to this powerful oppressor; neither will I victimize those for whom I am an accountable authority.  I will boycott the systems that dehumanize any individual, and choose instead to support creative, organic organizations that nurture individual esteem and interpersonal growth.  I will forgo the single-minded standard of beauty that our pre-packaged marketing-driven culture forces down our collective throat; opting instead to adore what is beautiful in each individual.  I will choose to admire the diversity of humankind, so that I can recognize the beauty in all life.  I will seek out this diversity in all of my relationships, whether professional, personal, or the most intimately private.

            I will not be mired by the climate of despair that I see today.  Rather I will concentrate on transgressing the inequities of today by transforming the world of tomorrow.  I will use my classroom as a foundation on which to build a better future, and I will strive to create classrooms wherever, whenever, and with whomever I can.  I will be a critical thinker who questions my own realities, teaching others by example to question theirs.  I will not allow the power ethic to hold power over me; neither will I use this ethic to hold power over others. I will not tear down another in an effort to build up myself.  Instead, I will only reach out to others in a way that fosters mutual respect.  Faced with prejudice, I will be tolerant. 

Faced with persecution, I will show mercy. 

Faced with the systems of greed and pride, I will model generosity and humility. 

In the midst of fear, I will hope.  In the midst of doubt, I will believe. 

And most importantly, in the midst of hatred, I will love.

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