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Tavis Smiley on When It’s OK to Use the N-Word
Tavis Smiley, author of "My Journey With Maya," recalls many of the topics he and author Maya Angelou debated -- notably the use of the N-word -- during their long friendship.
Tavis Smiley is a talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. He became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996, he hosted the talk show BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. Smiley then began hosting The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR (2002-04) and currently hosts Tavis Smiley on PBS on the weekdays and "The Tavis Smiley Show" from PRI. From 2010 to 2013, Smiley and Cornel West joined forces to host their own radio talk show, Smiley & West. Smiley is the new host of "Tavis Talks" on BlogTalkRadio's Tavis Smiley Network. He is also the author or co-author of over a dozen books including his latest My Journey with Maya, about his friendship with the late Maya Angelou
Tavis Smiley: Yeah. The N-word. The short answer is that Maya could not stand the N-word; had no use for it and the context of its use did not have matter to her. Her thing was very simply that if I have a vial with crossbones and skulls on it and the word "POISON" written on the bottle, it's poison. If I take that same poison and pour it into the most beautiful vase of Baccarat crystal ever made, it's still poison. For her the context of the use of the word didn't matter. Now this was a generational thing because Maya was 30 some years older than I am, or was at the time of us having this conversation. And my view of the N-word is a bit more nuanced, again based upon the generation that I've been raised in and the music that I listen to and the culture that I've been a part of. So my view is a little bit more liberal than Maya's view on the N-word. And so we had this debate for years about whether or not the N-word was something that ought to be used in any context, and we never agreed on that. There were a number of things we never agreed on. She asked me when I was in Africa what I thought the greatest virtue was. "Of all the virtues, Tavis, which is the greatest virtue for you?" And I said, "I think love is the greatest of all the virtues." And she said, "I think courage." I said, "Really?" She said, "Yeah."
So for 28 years of our friendship we debated which is the greatest virtue, love or courage. Her argument was that it takes courage to love and my argument was, but love is courage enacted. I believe that love is the greatest of all the virtues; she thought it was courage. We never settled that debate. So there are a number of things that we would come back to time and time again over the course of our relationship and we had differing opinions. The point of this is that she allowed me to interrogate her. She allowed me to disagree. She welcomed my opinion. She wanted to hear what I thought on a particular issue even, if she thought I was wrong; we had debate about the merits of art versus entertainment and what makes something art and what makes something entertainment. So we had these debates all the time, but it was such a beautiful relationship when we were always allowed to engage each other. And no matter what the conversation was, no matter how tense or terse it might have been about a particular subject matter, every conversation always, always, always ended on a love note. She never allowed a conversation to end without it being on a love note.
Tavis Smiley, author of My Journey With Maya, recalls many of the topics he and author Maya Angelou debated -- notably the use of the n-word -- during their long friendship. "Maya could not stand the N-word," says Smiley. "Had no use for it and the context of its use did not have matter to her." Smiley also delves into a conversation about values and virtues. What value did Maya Angelou cherish above all? Courage, because it takes courage to love.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.