Radical Minds and Critical
Herndon L. Davis
months ago during a casual conversation, I was described by someone as being
a radical. When he first said it I didn't know whether I should laugh or
It never quite dawned on me until then that my standing up against spiritual
homophobia, writing a gay spiritual book and producing and hosting a national
black gay TV talk show would qualify me for radical status, but apparently
in the minds of some it has.
Prior to this particular conversation, my mental concept of radicalism
or the word radical represented outdated images of white women burning
their bras in protest of anything male dominated or people chaining themselves
to century old oak trees.
So now I asked myself, what exactly is a radical? Is it someone who
marches down the street shouting, screaming, and decrying the injustices
of the day? Or is it someone who commits outrageous acts of protest capturing
his/her 3 minutes of fame on the evening news?
And how exactly does a radical mind think? Does it wake up every morning
determined to rock the boat of society? Or does a radical mind intentionally
try to kick in the front teeth of the status quo just for kicks?
In reality I believe that the face, the voice, and the causes of radicalism
are as diverse as mankind itself. After giving much thought and research
on the matter, I now have a much stronger understanding of what is and
what is not a radical or radicalism.
1. Standing up for oneself does not necessarily make one a radical.
Even standing up against an entire institution or society (i.e homophobic
church or heterosexual majority) doesn't always make one a radical either.
The act of standing up is but one component of radicalism.
2. Screaming, shouting, and protesting the injustices of the day does
not make one a radical either. Although America still vividly remembers
the 1960's Civil Rights and Vietnam War images of protests as clear examples
of radicalism, I actually counter that marching down a city street, chaining
oneself to a tree or a building isn't exactly a definition of radicalism
but more of a symbolic act of it.
After deeper analysis, I have come to the conclusion that what makes
one a radical are the following components:
1. When a person mentally and emotionally rejects all that they know
to be true about their existing reality, existing life and of the existing
society which surround them and then begins to critically think and re-think
everything that has been programmed into them (i.e homophobia, racism,
sexism, etc); this becomes the first major step towards radicalism.
You see, radical minded people daily reject the status quo and express
their lives accordingly. Even further, although they may respect authority,
radical minded people still question its use and/or misuse. But most importantly,
radical minded people are critical thinkers.
Radicals just don't wake up one morning and decide to overthrow a government.
It often takes many years of self-analysis, reflection, prayer, meditation,
dialogue, and research before the ultimate stand against the status quo
actually occurs. Hence, critical analysis is a major key to becoming a
2. Radical minded people seek personal freedoms, whether it's the freedom
to own property, to vote, marry, run for public office, or to access public
services. The act of being denied, restrained, impaired, or hindered is
the octane fuel which drives the pursuit of freedom. Hence, radicalism
is driven by the inherent desire to be free.
Examples of past American concepts of radicalism include the abolitionist
movement, feminism struggle, civil rights era, and now the gay rights
fight for equal protection as well as the right and the freedom to marry.
Just as slaves did not have any personal freedoms, women did not have
the right to vote, and several generations later blacks were still fighting
for full equality under the U.S. constitution; the theme which runs similar
in all of these instances is "freedom." The desire to be free.
Further, radical minded people not only seek their own personal freedoms,
they also seek freedoms for others even at the cost of retaliation against
3. Contrary to popular belief, radical minded people are actually very
patient people. Social movements can take many years to build and to execute.
A true radical understands that revolutions and evolutions within society
do not occur overnight or within the next calendar year.
Hence, radical minded people are strategic thinkers as well as critical
thinkers. They strategically and critically assess the social changes
which must take place and then move forward in multiple ways, methods,
and fashions to achieve it.
4. Finally, radical minded people understand that it really isn't about
them per se, but instead they recognize and understand that its about
allowing a greater power, a greater plan, and a greater pathway to flow
though their existence into a glorious fruition.
Radical minded people accept that they might not actually reap the total
rewards and benefits of their efforts, but instead understand that each
and every generation which follows them will. Thus radicals are the social
architects which build, construct, and solidify a new world order for
the entirety of mankind.
So when I reflect upon this interpretation of what it means to be a
radical and in my case, a gay radical, then I proudly sign up for the
label and all that goes with it.
To be the change that is needed, to be catalyst which ignites, and to
be the finger of the hand of God which moves its divine will throughout
the course of time is more than enough payoff for me. So I'm hanging on
for the ride!
L. Davis is an inspirational author, lecturer, and TV Host. He
can be reached directly at http://herndondavis.com
Copyright © by the author
All Rights Reserved
Back to the Table of Contents