Dr. Michael Eric Dyson spoke at Olympic College this past Monday, and I came away inspired and energized. The Olympic College Multicultural Program sponsored the event, and Dan Johnson, the Director of Multicultural & Student Programs at Olympic College, introduced Dr. Dyson.
The program title was Politics, Diversity and the Disenfranchised in America, and Dr. Dyson mentioned how fitting it was that the title “sandwiches ‘Diversity’ in between ‘Politics’ and ‘Disenfranchised.’”
Besides being an author and speaker, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is on the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Dr. Dyson defined politics as “the fight over just distribution of vital resources to a vulnerable population in a time of crisis.” He stressed that critical thinking is essential for all of us, so that we can sort out issues and events, put them into context and understand why people do what they do.
One of the many things Dr. Dyson said that resonated with me was: “The disenfranchisement of some is the undermining of all.”
It reminded me of something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We are all connected, and probably more alike than not. Social justice is something for all of us to be concerned about because in the long run it affects us all.
A highlight of the evening for me was during the question and answer period when a white man stood up to ask a question of Dr. Dyson and mentioned that he “got down with diversity when he married a black man.” The couple has been together for 25 years and they both got a warm response from Dr. Dyson and from the audience.
It was heartening to me to hear Dr. Dyson speak so eloquently and inclusively about diversity. Dr. Dyson has written many books, and choosing one was not easy – I bought Can You Hear Me Now, and am very much looking forward to reading it.
While he infused humor throughout the presentation, Dr. Dyson never failed to instill the audience with the gravity of the issues facing our communities.