Listening as a radical act.

Yesterday I had the chance to attend a day long human rights conference in which the key note speaker spoke on the idea of listening as a radical act. I really enjoyed it because the speaker, Tali Hairston, really drove at the idea that listening can be revolutionary and a way to honor those around us.

I think listening, especially listening to the marginalized, is revolutionary because so often, the marginalized are never heard. With issues like #OscarsSoWhite or trans people regularly being shut out of telling our own stories or Every Spoken Word or anything like that, there’s rarely a chance for marginalized people to be heard on a large scale level. We so often hear many of the same stories with many of the same faces that listening to others would be really different and revolutionary.

And it’s also important to listen to yourself and your story. In this way, we as privileged people need to be listening to ourselves in the way of digging deep into our own privilege. For example, so often when we talk about race (we being white people), we do it in the context of the other. Others experience it but rarely do we ever listen to the ways in which we are complicit.

Listening is a way to honor one another and it makes space for others in ourselves. It allows people to be heard and when we truly listen, we can be challenged. We often assume we listen but often just edit and delete what we hear to confirm our own biases and world experiences. We often hear what we want to hear that allows us to stay in our own world of comfort. But listening to others (and truly listening) allows for us and our own worlds to be challenged and changed.

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