When you have been a justice fighter all your life, it is sometimes very hard to be confronted and challenged by people much younger than you are as if your experience and history means little. This has happened to me on numerous occasions when commenting on race issues. And the temptation is to respond in anger. But I have learned, through experience, that sometimes these critics are right, that I have said or written something which is insensitive or arrogant or takes the discussion to a place which smothers voices which need to be heard. And so I force myself to listen to the attacks, try not to take them personally, and change my approach to the issues when such a change is called for.
Do I always do this smoothly and tactfully? Hell no! Sometimes I have administered a smack down to the people calling me out, only to then do, over time, exactly what they suggest.
But insofar as I have remained relevant in discussions of race and social policy, it is because I have tried, if not always gracefully, to listen to and learn from people who have attacked my positions. And to respect their right to attack me.
I suggest that Senator Sanders do the same with Black Lives Matter protesters at Netroots Nation who disrupted his talk. There is much to be learned from their actions and words about what is really going on in this country. And how people who have been left out, pushed aside, ignored and marginalized feel about it.
If you don't learn from your critics, it is on you, not on them.
or as a famous hip hop song once reminded us
"Check yourself before you wreck yourself"