International women’s day is coming up and I was inspired recently by Lauryn Hill, a phenomenal Black female artist that I admired growing up.
I stumbled upon an old video of Lauryn speaking at the Academy of Achievement in 2000. The point she made was the idea of “being righteous over being right”, and it got me thinking about morals and how they relate to being an Black ally in 2021.
As the best selling Black female artist of 1988, 5 time grammy winner including best new artist of the year and best album of the year, her voice meant something to us young Black women in hip hop culture. I was never a star struck type of girl having worked with stars in TV and the restaurant industry, but she was one entertainer that would have been great to get to know personally. She seemed like a real homegirl, rather deep and mature at the same time.
So righteousness you say, sounds a little preachy right?
Well let’s take it out of the biblical context and just consider it a humanistic, spiritual or conscious term. As opposed to the idea of acting without sin and upholding divine law, instead let’s use the definition of doing what is just and standing up for what is right, morally. And yes, “morals” are a very personal affair, but there are several baseline human rights based on morals that all major religions, cultures and secular societies believe in. That’s why they are called universal human rights. You know the ones that have to do with taking care of each other and treating each other with respect and dignity. Yup those ones.
Lauryn goes on to say,
“For me now, I’m learning that it’s more important to be righteous than to be right. I’ve tried to be right. You know, this is right! This is an injustice! This is a travesty! I’m right! But I’ve been very unrighteous…and still right! ...You know, because you can attack someone, completely right, but it doesn’t resolve anything. You know, it doesn’t solve your problem… Because our enemies are not physical bodies, they are actually our family. They don’t know it, and we don’t always know it.”
This sparked in me the kind of excitement you see in a 5 year old’s eyes when he gets an ice cream cone, because it was so simple yet so powerful.
We as humans, create enemies out of people without realizing it's not the person, it's the idea, or the construct, or the difference of opinion, or different lived experiences that shaped our viewpoint. It’s a bias. What better way to understand how powerful bias can affect your view of the world and your relationships with people, especially if it goes unchecked.
That’s why allyship is so powerful, because you admit as an ally that you are fallible, it’s a human characteristic to be biased. But you also take a stance saying you want to be more righteous than right. You want to grow, and heal and help others do the same. Now that’s some sh*t I'd lay down for...while the hairs on my arms stand up, because what’s more important than each other? Nada. Especially in a world where division is the pastime of the powerful.
So this month I’m asking you what if instead of holding onto all the things we think are “right”, we focus more attention on our human rights, our collective power, and what is really righteous for us all? Don't blush, I dig you too.
Your Tough Convos Team