“Tell these black kids they could be who they are/Dye your hair blue, s**t, I’ll do it too” are words uttered by Hip Hop Outcast, Tyler, the Creator. They come from his subdued pop song, “Where this Flower Blooms” featuring Frank Ocean. The song is featured on his most recent Grammy Nominated album, Flower Boy. Although this album is full of gems due to its lyrical capture of the current zeitgeist, this specific lyric stands out. It stands out because it begs a discussion about the stifling of Black children and the things they desire to pursue and be. This discussion is part of a bigger conversation that needs to be had about the raising of Black children in regards to creativity and free will in the early stages of life. But how can this discussion occur in a manner that is efficient and leads to an outcome that benefits all involved? For all of this and more to be accomplished, an open dialogue needs to happen.
Before this occurs, we need to examine what an open dialogue is. It is described as a forum in which opposing sides can come together to discuss their grievances and come to a consensus on how to move on. An example of an open dialogue is the discussion that President Donald Trump had with the survivors and family of those affected by the Parkland, FL shooting in February 2018. The discussion took place at the White House and served as a listening session for the president. Those in attendance attested to the pain that was caused from the heinous shooting that left 17 dead and 17 injured. They shared the frustration that they felt with the way that things were being handled and the lax laws that are in place that authorized the gunman to purchase the weapon.
Next, we must analyze the value that open dialogues possess in the pursuit of solutions to issues. For one, they permit those involved to voice their uninhibited opinions. In addition to it being a safe space, they allow all those involved to become educated on the feelings of the other side, as most of the topics that are discussed in open dialogues are misunderstood because of miseducation. Furthermore, they enable healing for those involved. An instance of this can be seen in Truth and Reconciliation councils (TRC). A truth and reconciliation council is another type of open forum that allows those that have been affected by atrocities such as war crimes to speak on what they have suffered. In addition to victims, TRCs grant those that have participated in the criminal activity to speak on their experience because those that have perpetrated in a corrupt system are not criminals, but they are also victims. Finally, open dialogues quell animosity amongst those involved.
So, what does any of this have to do with WesGold Fellows? Well, in WesGold Fellows, we promote the use of open dialogues in every facet of our discussions, so our students can learn to speak their minds, but also stay conscious to the ideologies of others around them.