Today is June 19 and while this day may be just another day on the calendar for some of us. June 19 carries a special meaning for Black Americans. For it is on this day that slavery truly ended in America. Yet, what does that have to do with William James and his philosophical theory of pluralism? So much more than we know.
The History of June 19
I can make an argument that Black people in America have always been pluralists. How else do you describe the level of faith that our ancestors, had to believe that their current state of slavery would not be the current state for generations to come? From their faith in God to their belief in negro spirituals, Black people in America believed that the universe was an unfinished manuscript and we still had the chance to write our own verse. It is a belief that is still passed on to young people and children of color today.
Yet, the connection between pluralism and Black people is summed up in one word...hope. It is an idea that manifests itself in the physical forms of Martin, Obama and our youth, for example. Our belief in hope guides our belief in God and the universe that he has created. It is how we move forward. It is how we transcend. It is how we survive.
So while James speaks of pluralism in philosophical overtures, my elders were teaching me the same ideas under a different name. They were teaching me hope and it is an idea that I will pass on to my children...mixed with the teachings of James, of course.