Two very different and very similar speakers, teachers, and change-makers: author Toni Morrison delivering her 1993 Nobel Lecture on December 7, 1993, and Dark Matter’s Alok Vaid-Menon, breaking down “success” and complicity at TEDxMiddlebury, twenty Decembers later.
Toni Morrison on Violence and Story-telling
Oppressive language does more than represent violence—it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge—it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity-driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law without ethics or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek, it must be rejected, altered, and exposed…
‘You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow.
We know you can never do it properly—once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.’ —Toni Morrison
Alok Vaid-Menon on the Power of Failing
“Who is invited to speak about a movement, and who must die for it? I was so concerned with being a successful researcher that I glossed over the parts of the work that were the most important, the hard and invisible parts of building trust, empathy, and solidarity.” —Alok Vaid-Menon