The pain I feel as I listen to the various discussions following the murder of Trayvon Martin has kept me from doing much of anything other than linking to eloquent essays in my facebook stream. But I fear that my silence here could be misinterpreted. I think that those of us who carry white skin privilege can not remain silent. Silence is complicity, as the bumper sticker says.
Racism killed Trayvon Martin.
Yes, an individual Florida man held up his gun and pulled the trigger. But that man’s life was shaped and formed by a country founded upon and developed through racist beliefs. Until we begin to examine, understand, and seek forgiveness for these elements of who we are, can we ever heal? When will we begin to understand that racism is not simply about interpersonal language or bigotry, but about the institutionalization of such prejudice, inscribed via the power of fear?
Some essays worth pondering in the light of Trayvon’s death:
And right here is where we usually go wrong with confirmation. Christianity has nothing to do with certainty, and confirmation is not the ritual of claiming that you will with all certainty believe the tradition and theology of the church. Rather, Christianity is about living in opposition to certainty; it is about faith in the midst of doubt. Christianity has no room for certainty, for certainty lives by the law of self-protection; its own rightness keeps it from hope, and most importantly (the greatest of these, Paul says), love. Certainty demands its rightness in the now, even if it means hurting or hating others to maintain its integrity.
Doubt then is not our enemy but our great friend. For it keeps us from the most un-Christian of things: assuming that we possess certainty, that we need not think our faith, love our neighbors, and worse—that we need not search for God, for we know this God certainly. Faith that has become certain is no longer (by definition) faith; it has become idolatry. We are no longer seeking out a living, personal God but have made this God into a frozen idol.
Mad Men is most theological when it articulates the hope offered in memory and imagination rendered transformative. In its characters’ pushes and pulls toward authenticity across time — however fleeting — we see that a move away from an identity based on persuasion and power might yet be one toward a more integrated self. In these moments we are shown that the good and the beautiful might be revealed in what is yet to come, but perhaps only by first looking deeply into what has been.
I pay attention to anything and everything that danah boyd does, as I think her scholarship is excellent and ground-breaking. Lately she’s been working with the new Lady Gaga foundation (Born This Way) to develop a set of resources on bullying. They’ve got five research papers, and a number of other very useful pieces up there already.
One of my favorite artists, Pete Seeger, has just recorded a version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” as a benefit for Amnesty International. Wouldn’t it be fun to see his song make it to the top of the charts? Check it out at iTunes, and watch the documentary below:
I came across this great quote this morning, and don’t want to lose it. Hence:
“The challenge of all teaching is to integrate the authority of the facilitator and the autonomy of the learner. …..
Why have any kind of educational authority, however benign? The obvious answer is so that knowledge and skills can be passed on. Otherwise, everyone has to learn everything from experiential scratch- which would be the reduction ad absurdum of experiential learning theory. But herein lies the tension, between the passing-on on the one hand and the primacy of personal learning on the other.
For learning itself is necessarily autonomous, that is, self-directed: it is constituted by interest, commitment, understanding and practice. Each of these is self-generated – they are negated or distorted by any attempt to instil or impose them. Learning is also necessarily holistic, that is it involves – either by inclusion, or by denial and alienation – the whole person ….”
John Heron ‘The Politics of Facilitation’, in Mulligan and Griffin(eds) Empowerment through Experiential Learning