It probably seems a bit late to write about Jesse Williams speech, and let me assure you, I am not writing about it, but rather what I learnt from it. What the aftermath taught me.
Jesse pointed out some uncomfortable truths about current society, he expressed frustration, hurt, and sadness at the inequality still prevalent in today’s society. Jesse referenced factual events, he was not using hateful language, and he was asking for positive change.
If we are to think about this from a non-violent communication framework, what we are hearing are requests for basic needs, such as, equality, inclusion, and safety. A need for a community which accepts diversity without attempting to capitalize on it.
Unfortunately, for many NVC was not used. All that was heard was an attack. Racism (?!) Blame. Those listening with the Jekyll ears (check out Marshall’s youtube clips if you don’t get this reference!) just heard hate. They could not hear a fellow human in pain, hurt by generations of inequality. A human begging his fellow humans (note, Jesse did not ask only black people to stand with him on this move for change) to stand up and demand change. To be change.
Could Jesse have worded it better? Maybe. Could he have worded it worse? Definitely. Did he achieve his ultimate goal of having his very important message heard by as many people as possible? Undoubtedly! Isn’t that all that matters?
When will we learn to put our ego’s and over-sensitivity aside and simply focus on what people are trying to say? If we are all so caught up in arguing over the details of the words, how will we ever truly learn to hear what people need to tell us? Imagine a world where everyone cared enough to ensure each others basic needs and rights were met? Imagine a world where every cared enough to listen to what each other truly needed? All we have to do is listen…..