Defining Peace: Reflecting on the 2017 Peace Ball

By Jaylin Paschal

Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.

"True peace," however, is defined by Martin Luther King, Jr., as “not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

So what does peace look like, today, when there is the presence of tension and the absence of justice? How do we define peace, or redefine it, rather? Is it any more than an abstract concept? Is it attainable through policy or accords? Are we capable of fostering peace in a political climate built on--reliant on--the pressure of internal and external biases and fear?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, but not without diligence.

Real answer: The night of Thursday, January 19, 2016, just before the Doomsday inauguration of President Donald Trump, hundreds of people from across the globe gathered at the National African American History and Culture museum for Busboy and Poet's Peace Ball. In their ball gowns, their saris, their turbans, their burkas, their dashikis and their three-piece suits, they gathered to hear words of resistance from the likes of Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Melissa Harris-Perry, Eddie Huang, Danny Glover, Van Jones, Senator Cory Booker and Amy Goodman before a gorgeous politically-charged performance from Solange Knowles. And after discussion and strategizing, the diverse crowd--refusing to be silent in these next four years of Trumpism--danced together for the night to symbolize resilience, unity and acceptance. "Hard times require furious dancing," Alice Walker told the crowd.