Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.
What I’ve tried to do is combine both my personal experiences with scientific research. I like to cross the divide between the personal world and the scientific world.
It seems to me in the past it’s been a good thing, as a writer, to have experiences I hadn’t expected.
With the Truman book, I wrote the entire account of his experiences in World War I before going over to Europe to follow his tracks in the war. When I got there, there was a certain satisfaction in finding I had it right – it does look like that.
I am often asked why I started to write poetry. The answer is that my motivation sprang from a visceral need to creatively articulate the experiences of the black youth of my generation, coming of age in a racist society.
Sadly, whites are rarely open to what black and brown folks have to say regarding their ongoing experiences with racist mistreatment. And we are especially reluctant to discuss what that mistreatment means for us as whites: namely that we end up with more and better opportunities as the flipside of discrimination.
The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative.
Ideologies, however appealing, cannot shape the whole structure of perceptions and conduct unless they are embedded in daily experiences that confirm them.
Some of the most moving experiences I’ve had are just in black churches in the South, during the Civil Rights Movement, where people were getting beaten, killed, really struggling for the most elementary rights.
Learning from the experiences of our ancestors, let us together create knowledge for all that benefits all.