This week I have started to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I went to a Baptist church in Trenton to hear Dr. Reverand William Barber speak. The idea of the event was to create a movement that united all faiths and unions to work together to create a more virtuous America. This can only happen when people of all faiths and a strong working class come together. You can read more about the event here.
I learned a boatload from the evening. The first thing I learned was all about history. The older I get the more I realize how ignorant I am when it comes to real American History. Dr. Reverand Barber spoke about the two reconstructions that America has had where blacks and whites have truly worked together.
The First and Second Reconstructions held out the great promise of rectifying racial injustices in America. The First Reconstruction, emerging out of the chaos of the Civil War had as its goals equality for Blacks in voting, politics, and use of public facilities. The Second Reconstruction emerging out of the booming economy of the 1950’s, had its goals, integration, the end of Jim Crow and the more amorphous goal of making America a biracial democracy where, “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveholders will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Even though both movements, were borne of high hopes they failed in bringing about their goals. Link
He explained how during each reconstruction the real wealth of America started to get worried. They used race to help divide the lower class so they can keep their wealth accumulation and power. The following years after these reconstructions new laws were created to suppress voters and change the power dynamics of the courts.
The second message that resonated with me was that a man of God who has taught at Princeton Seminary School stood so strongly for LGBTQIA rights. I heard in a Baptist church that all people were created equal regardless of their sexuality. My favorite part of his entire speech was when he stated, “people say so much about what the Bible says so little while saying so little about what the Bible says so much.” The other quote that stood out was that if there is a hole under anyone’s seat in a boat the entire boat is going down. That is how Americans should view each other. If one group is suffering the entire country is suffering.
The final thought bomb he dropped is that this is not a liberal problem or a conservative problem. It is not about Democrats or Republicans, the left or the right. It is a moral problem. We are living in an immoral society where people are hungry, sick, and homeless. This is morally unjustifiable. We live in an era where tax breaks are being created for the wealthy while the middle and lower class is shouldering more of the burden than ever before. This is morally indefensible. When people don’t have access to health care, inexpensive healthy food, and affordable housing in a country that is the richest country to ever grace this earth there is a problem. Racism and xenophobia are at an all time high. Hate crimes are skyrocketing across the country. That is morally reprehensible. As educators, we need to step up and be a part of this moral movement. I am trying to take my slacktivism to activism what about you?