“I really, really like Black people.”
Question: What inspires you to do what you do?
Harris-Lacewell: I couldn’t do anything else. The truth is I’m in a certain way very lazy. I’m not particularly capable of doing work that I don’t find interesting, so I do what I find engages my mind and my ideas. But part of it is I really, really like Black people. I like us when we’re making bad decisions. I like us when we’re listening to misogynist music. I like us when we’re paying our bills on time and we’re not. I like us when we get married and have these beautiful ceremonies and jump over brooms. And I also like us when we’re bold and brave enough to raise children on our own. I like the men who write to me from prison and, you know, use all their jailhouse lingo and tell me about the political world. I also like the, you know, little conservative girls who sit in my class and argue with me sort of the Black conservative line. I’m engaged by us. I’m fascinated by us. I’m always trying to figure out what would make life for Black people as equal, as democratic, as real, and as possible for the full capacity of human fulfillment as it is for other people. I think that Black people are the American promise. I believe that it is our struggle around questions of race which makes our country great; that if we did not have those struggles; that if we did not fight to figure out how to be inclusive, and democratic, and deliberative across racial inequality, then we would never get to be a better country. And so I just wanna be a part of that because I actually think it’s at the center of what we are.