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If don’t know Luvvie Ajayi, it’s a sign that you are reading way too many African fiction and not enough social commentary. Luvvie is a Nigerian writer and blogger. She is known for using social media as a platform for speaking out against various forms of injustices. She writes funny and hard-hitting social commentary on race, fashion, culture, and politics in her blog. Her distinct writing style has garnered her a massive community of readers. Her book I am Judging You: The Do-better Manual was published a year ago and has since been enjoying rave reviews.

Two months ago, she gave a talk at the 2017 TedWomen Conference. The video is now available to watch on Ted.com. In the video, she comments on what gives her courage to speak truth to power. Through a series of funny but also poignant anecdotes from her life, she chronicles her journey to overcoming fear, which, as she puts it, “has a very concrete power of keeping us from doing and saying the things that are our purpose.”

She makes the point that speaking truth to power is not an act devoid of fear. There are risks and sacrifices involved and people like herself who stay in the front lines are aware of these risks. But what drives her to stand up against the system is the realization that making the world better is a necessity, not an option. At the end of the talk she insists that speaking truth to power is an attempt to break down divisions and “build bridges to common ground.”

Inspiring stuff! Here are five of the best moments in the talk. Read and learn!

1. The Domino Effect of Change:

That is me. I want us to leave this world better than we found it. And how I choose to effect change is by speaking up, by being the first and by being the domino. For a line of dominoes to fall, one has to fall first, which then leaves the other choiceless to do the same. And that domino that falls, we’re hoping that, OK, the next person that sees this is inspired to be a domino. Being the domino, for me, looks like speaking up and doing the things that are really difficult, especially when they are needed, with the hope that others will follow suit.And here’s the thing: I’m the person who says what you might be thinking but dared not to say.

2. Courage is not the absence of fear:

A lot of times people think that we’re fearless, the people who do this, we’re fearless. We’re not fearless. We’re not unafraid of the consequences or the sacrifices that we have to make by speaking truth to power. What happens is, we feel like we have to, because there are too few people in the world willing to be the domino, too few people willing to take that fall.We’re not doing it without fear.

3. Comfort is Overrated:

But I realize comfort is overrated. Because being quiet is comfortable.Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done is maintain the status quo. So we’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable by speaking these hard truths when they’re necessary.

4. Justice is not Optional

And for me, though, I realize that I have to speak these truths, because honesty is so important to me.My integrity is something I hold dear. Justice — I don’t think justice should be an option. We should always have justice.

5. Telling Truth Should Not Be a Revolutionary Act

When it’s time to say these hard things, I ask myself three things. One: Did you mean it?Two: Can you defend it?Three: Did you say it with love?If the answer is yes to all three,I say it and let the chips fall.That’s important.That checkpoint with myselfalways tells me, “Yes, you’re supposed to do this.”Telling the truth — telling thoughtful truths –should not be a revolutionary act. Speaking truths to power should not be sacrificial, but they are. But I think if more of us chose to do this for the greater good,we’d be in better spaces than we are right now.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to “Luvvie Ajayi Spectacularly Demystifies the Fear of Telling Truth to Power” Subscribe

  1. samuel dzombo December 13, 2017 at 6:31 am #

    Big ups.You are a game changer on the African political scene by speaking truth to power.

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