Focusing on the topic of “Building Community in an Hour of Chaos,” academic, advocate, and television personality Dr. Marc Lamont Hill spoke in an event hosted by the Voices of Color Lecture Series (VCLS) and the Days Massolo Center on April 13. He spoke candidly about the need for intergenerational activism as a way to bring constructive social change—garnering snaps and sounds of agreement echoing throughout the Chapel.
VCLS was established in recognition and in honor of C. Christine Johnson, past director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, for her 30 years of commitment to helping Hamilton students of color. By hosting reputable guest lecturers established in academia every year, VCLS offers a platform where they can speak to, challenge, inspire, and teach the college community.
Introducing the event was Tarik Desire ’18, chair of the Voices of Color Lecture Series (VCLS). He spoke of Hill’s various accomplishments throughout the years, including his accolades from organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Currently, Hill is a regular political contributor to CNN, the host of HuffPost Live and BET News, and a professor of African American studies at Morehouse College.
Looking out into the crowded Chapel, Hill began the lecture saying, “When I was asked to speak about this idea of building a community in an hour of chaos, it seemed like an appropriate time. But I could not have foreseen just how apt the title would be, just how important it would be, to speak about this idea of chaos as this moment demands it.”
He explained that chaos cannot be whittled down to a particular moment, scandal, or administration, but can be seen as an amalgamation of events happening in the past, including economics arrangements, social conditions, and cultural practices and attitudes that have contributed to this moment of ‘chaos.’
Hill acknowledged such chaos as being seen in problems from war to public education to sexual violence to rape culture. He cited problems of homelessness, mass incarceration, and the existent tension between race and the environment, referencing how in cities like Flint, Baltimore, and Cleveland (with a race population opposite from, for example, Clinton, Westchester, or South Orange), “the vulnerable were rendered disposable.”
Throughout his lecture, Hill focused on the need for “radical listening, radical thinking, and radical action.” When speaking on radical listening, for example, he explained, “Everyone’s got something to say, but there’s often very little space and time for deep listening. I don’t just mean listening in the sense of hearing people talk and the voices of others –I’m talking about a deeper sense of understanding the different narratives that operate in the world, the different life stories, the different identity politics that govern the world.”
By the end of the lecture, crowd members were left thinking about the severity of chaos not in their own individual lives but in the communities beyond them. The looming question posed by Hill at the beginning stayed on the minds of everyone in the audience:
“Where do we go from here: chaos or community?”