Get to Know: Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

LGBTQ Rights

Tell us about yourself. What got you into politics and how would you define yourself politically (if at all)?

I'm a polymath who is driven most by the questions, "What does it mean to be human?" and "Why do people behave as they do?" The exploration of these questions has led me to into the worlds of science and art. In these worlds, I function as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Mental Health Consultant who conducts research, provides mental health services, and authors scholarly work. In addition, I am a choreographer who uses dance to investigate the psychological and sociocultural experiences of humankind.

My work is inherently political as it focuses on principles and opinions. However, I am not aligned with any political party nor am I am against any particular political party. I am not interested in political parties or politics in the common sense of the word but am more concerned with pursuing love and justice for the whole of humanity with a specific focus on marginalized populations.

How did you come to be involved with the Hampton Institute?

Mike Perry, the Race & Ethnicity Department Chair, introduced me to Colin and the Hampton Institute. Colin asked me to chair the LGBTQ Rights Department and I agreed.

What do you think some of the goals of the Institute should be? What does the term "a working-class think tank" mean to you?

The goals of the Hampton Institute should be aligned with creating a space where working-class and other people can come to educate themselves about and participate in grassroot intellectual discourse and activism that is taking place in various communities around the country and globe.

A working-class think tank is concerned with uplifting the "least of these;" that is working-class people and those who are marginalized in society. Our work is to speak for those marginalized people who cannot speak for themselves and provide a platform and encouragement for those who can speak but are reluctant to do so. As a think tank, we are also committed to fostering scholarly thought that is original, radical, and forward thinking.

What led you to being in your particular department? What makes you so passionate about that area?

I have expertise in many areas and Colin asked me to contribute my knowledge related to LGBTQ people's lives to the Hampton Institute. My work in the department is intersectional; it investigates the junctures of class, race, health, gender, ability-status, and oppression in the lives of LGBTQ people.

What are some of your political goals? What does "the revolution" look like to you?

I might be cynical but I don't believe that "the revolution" will ever actually happen. Therefore, I find it hard to imagine what it will look like. I do, however, believe that the universe bends towards justice and that by-and-by humankind will learn how to relate to each others' differences without trying to destroy, co-opt, or ignore them.

What books and/or authors would you suggest to others?

I would suggest that everyone read everything by Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Cornel West, and August Wilson.

What media sources do you use to keep up on current events?

The Atlantic, Twitter, The Nation, The New Republic, and Democracy Now

What kind of music do you listen to? What are some of your favorite foods?

I like any type of music that speaks to my soul. Music is an emotional experience for me; it can help me deepen or change them. Some of my favorite artists include Billy Porter and Bobby McFerrin, Dennis Ferrer and James Blake, and Rachelle Ferrell and Teyana Taylor. Oh and of course my guilty pleasure is arrogant rap: Kanye West, Drake, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne.

I love Japanese food. It's so clean, fresh, and light. My favorite dish is Tekkadon, which is raw tuna slices over rice.

What (apolitical thing) makes you happy? What are your hobbies or interests?

I love spending quality time at home with my partner and our cat. Also, I could spend forever in the dance studio creating dances with my company, Psychosomatic Dance.