We Need to Build an Interfaith America

We have before us a momentous opportunity To create the world’s first truly interfaith nation We need to build American Medina A city on a hill Made holy By the wideness of its welcome The strength of its bonds Look at it shining The Catholic university where Muslim immigrants

Learn The Jewish hospital where Hindu babies are born They eyes of the world are upon you We need to build A sangha whose chants of lovingkindness Change the climate Bridge divides and bind hearts We need to build The beloved community where we see each other

The Baptist and Mormons who farm fields and fight fires together The witnesses who watch over the whole block We need to build The New Jerusalem Tents for angles to dwell Tabernacles for the tribes Twelve, twelve thousand, twelve million They will not cease to be diverse

They come from across the Earth Seeking the sacredness of knowing one another Every refugee a pilgrim Every stranger a friend Until we are a nation This Interfaith America Pluralist rashtra Diverse democracy Achieving our country Where our hopes are prophecies Where we offer langar to our friends and our

Enemies Where we do not wait for sickness to pray for one another’s health Where we defeat the things we do not love by building the things we do We need to build

#Build #Interfaith #America

A Conversation about Interfaith Studies and Racial Equity

Out of out of many faiths religious diversity and American promise to which lori is a contributor has focused largely on the American civic landscape as a place of interfaith interaction I have highlighted places like hospitals and public parks and social services agencies and college campuses as the

Kind of civic spaces where most people can agree that that important work is being done nobody ever says you know we shouldn’t have health or education or or leisure and where people bring their diverse religious identities to that

Space in a meaningful way and you know of course if you think about an American Hospital the range of people who are inspired to become healers because of their their their faith commitment and and the complexity that it looks like to cooperate across religious differences in in a space in which religion is

Salient often because there are cosmic things happening from births to sickness to death so one of the paragraphs that I write in the introduction to interfaith leadership we will by the way send this to you after the call today we wanted

You to focus on Laurie’s writings before this call and I’ll send a couple of mine out right after about it I fear from the introduction of interfaith leadership when I use the term civic interfaith landscape I mean the various spaces schools parks college campuses companies organizations library

Sports these hospitals where people cool orient around religion differently interact with one another with varying degrees of ignorance and understanding tension and connection division and cooperation when their faiths identities are implicated by that interaction when I say civic interfaith work I mean the

Kinds of activities and conversations that through addressing to diverse faith identities and interaction strengthen a religiously diverse democracy an interfaith leader is somewhat expert in organizing these one of the ideas for the field of interfaith studies is that just as Nursing produces nurses and just

As Public Health as a field produces people who work in public health interfaith studies and the courses that make it up and the scholarship that makes it up would produce people who view themselves as interfaith leaders who would be as I write here expert in the kinds of activities and

Conversations that through addressing diversity the identities and interactions strengthen a religiously diverse democracy so I begin with that because while that is the the focus of the last ten years of the work and the kind of civic interfaith organization that IFYC has become the focus of the

First ten years and the reason that I became kind of ignited about interfaith cooperation at all has everything to do with racial justice and it is a different and extremely interesting conversation at some point to have how the work took a turn towards the Civic rather than continued on into the areas

Into deep areas of racial justice but the recovery of that for me is is not hard because it’s it’s a central part of my own formation and as I said it was the very reason I became interested in the first place and so because we are

Witness to and I stand in of a movement that has just totally changed the space totally changed the space around race in America that has been building for ten years plus 390 and in whose light we now all live right we all live all of us

From you know Jeff Bezos to Roger Goodell now live in the new space and the new light of the black lives matter movement I wanted to to center again what brought me to interfaith work to begin with

This is in part my own story and I think it is something that is is the kind of the kind of thing that that would be of great interest to students and is teachable in pretty straightforward way and I wanted

To do it through just four images so we’ll begin with the first one here Carolyn so this of course is the most iconic image from one of the marches from Selma to Montgomery and it’s interesting to note of course that there

Wasn’t just one that there were several marches or at least several attempts at marches but this is probably amongst the most iconic images and of course there’s dr. King in the center there there’s a what I believe is a Catholic sister a

Couple of places to dr. King’s left actually dr. King’s right my left and your left and there is the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel a couple of people over on the other side and part of what this image encapsulates for me is

The Interfaith dimension of the movement for racial justice that we refer to as the civil rights movement and just just take the center of the movement in the center of this picture for a second I remember somebody saying to me in

College you know we know a lot about dr. Martin Luther King jr. we never talked about Reverend Martin Luther King jr. and that was a major like scales falling from my eyes moment and perhaps it isn’t for any of you on this call but but it

Might actually be for some of your students because King’s Christianity is absolutely central to the person to his person into the figure he cuts in civil rights work and so as I read more deeply into this and of course the story that

I’m telling is in part the story of how I come to interfaith work and I come to to think religion is really inspiring and exciting you know King says things like many people want to make of me many things but in the deep recesses of my

Heart I’m a Christian minister I’m a Baptist minister I’m the grandson of a Baptist I’m the son of a Baptist minister I’m the grandson of a Baptist minister and my commitment to Jesus as the Son of the Living God is the highest commitment

That I have higher than race or nation or creed right and I remember reading this in college and thinking I you know how come I didn’t know anything about this right and that begins kind of my exploration not just of King’s deep

Religious conviction and the role that that plays in his in his understanding his kind of images of civil rights work and his his commitment and inspiration to do it but also the religious dimension of the civil rights movement

Writ large and of course one of those is standing right there in the form of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel so rabbi Heschel misses the trains running from from Warsaw to Auschwitz by six weeks and basically his entire family dies and Hitler’s Hellfires in in Europe and in much of his community right

In an unspeakable fashion and and I have a victim myself um there’s if there’s anybody in the United States who gets to say you know I’m just gonna I’m just gonna focus on quote-unquote my own people it might have been Rabbi Abraham

Joshua Heschel haven’t made it out of Warsaw to the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Upper West Side of New York in the middle part of the 20th century but instead as we all know he doesn’t just focus on his own people he

Decides which is to say the Jewish people he decides that in his in his language the soul of Judaism is at stake in the civil rights movement and he comes to Chicago in 1963 to speak at and be witness to King’s Speech at the

Chicago Conference on religion and race and that begins a long friendship and partnership with King on civil rights work and this is probably the most iconic image of that if my if my memory of American history and Kings biography serves me correctly and the day that King is tragically murdered he is

Actually on his way of course April 4th 1968 he’s on his way to celebrate Passover with Rabbi Heshel it’s so Rabbi Heshel is and just I just say it’s impossible to overstate his partnership with King in this work and

And the way that he brings a Jewish commitment to it and if that’s not the only part of the that’s not the only dimension of kind of the Interfaith threads through through the the civil rights movement in King’s own life of

Course Gandhi plays a central role King writes himself in his autobiography that in the Montgomery bus boycott Jesus is the inspiration but Gandhi furnishes the method King is so taken by the example of Mahatma Gandhi he goes to India in 1959 he witnesses that Gandhi Safi agraja

Movement in India is not just a Hindu movement but it’s a remarkably interfaith movement this is a little bit of a highlight of that so so there’s Gandhi and the person in front of them of course is Jawaharlal Nehru who what people will recognize as probably the most important Gandhi and

Protege but might not know that Niro was a pretty staunch secular humanist he was not by any means of religious Hindu and he was very very clear about that and yet he would consider Gandhi probably his leading light and Gandhi would

Consider him his leading protege right so you’ve got this kind of great Hindu figure giving rise to the first Prime Minister of India who is a pretty proud secular humanist behind Mahatma Gandhi ISM is a gentleman named Badshah Khan he is part of the Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan which incidentally is where

The Taliban comes from he’s known as the frontier gobby and he has a deep Muslim Quranic commitment to non-violence and there are these stories and images of Gandhi and and Badshah Khan in villages in India reading alternately from the bhagavad-gita and the Holy Quran when Hindu and Muslim riots start to break

Out and this is just one small example of kind of the Interfaith dimensions of what’s known as hemorrhage or the or the movement to liberate India in Gandhi’s own life there are many powerful interfaith threads and so Gandhi is

Deeply moved by the Sermon on the Mount which he reads as a law student in London he also reads the Russian Christian Leo Tolstoy’s work he’s so taken by Tolstoy that he names an ashram Tolstoy farm and so Gandhi as deep as his commitment to Hinduism is like king after him

You know Gandhi of course nourishes King Gandhi himself is nourished in many ways by different religions I just spoke with a Baha’i friend of mine who said you know Gandhi had many and many beautiful things to say about the Baha’i tradition one of my favorite Gandhian lines is that one it is good

For one to be in the home of one’s own religion but the window should be open to letting the winds of the wisdom of other religions right and again the reason I say this is is both because it is a matter of historical record

Therefore kind of you know a part of scholarship that that people who oriented around religion differently came together in these movements for religious justice I also say this because this is how I got involved to begin with and I start to get involved in interfaith worker right around 1920

21 years old it was a moment in American life that had a broad parallel to what we’re experiencing today because it was in the aftermath of the heinous Rodney King beating and I was interested in racial justice I thought it was the most

Important thing that was happening in America and I realized that there is this major interfaith component to all of these racial justice movements that in my mind nobody was talking about but that connected with me in a deep way as

I was on my own path to come back to Islam and I thought to myself the movements that I want to be a part of in the future our movements for racial justice and I want to be part of the interfaith thread of those movements in

The same way that these folks were so then go back one slide to the Mandela slide so one of the kind of Kairos moments of my life was 1999 Parliament of the world’s religions Cape Town South Africa I see Mandela speak and Mandela the first words out of his mouth are I would

Still be there he’s pointing to the Cape and specifically towards Robben Island where he spent you know 27 years of his life he’s saying I would still be there if it wasn’t for the Muslims and the Christians and the Jews and the African

Traditionalists and the Baha’i and the Buddhists and the humanists of South Africa coming together in the movement against apartheid and I have this kind of moment you know being in South Africa at the turn of the millennium the struggle was an interfaith movement and Muslims and this

Is why I wanted to depict this picture as male as unfortunately male as it is is Muslims play a key role in that movement and you know I grew up in a professional middle-class immigrant ismail Muslim household and I basically thought that like becoming a professional along the lines of

Accountant doctor engineer was like so central in my house you could you would have thought it was in the Quran that’s how like that’s how much my parents kind of push that and to be in South Africa and to meet Fareed isaku later marries

Me and Rasheed Omar on Ibrahim Rasul and Ibrahim Moussa who Lori also knows and to realize that these people like their commitment to Islam made them front and center in in the struggle against apartheid at Mandela’s side just changes

My life it changes my life the struggle in South Africa is also an interfaith movement and of course from Gandhi to King and King to Mandela that is not a hard arc to recreate right that that is that is a that is like the art of

Righteousness in the 20th century and we’ll go to the last night I’ve got that’s my first faith hero that’s Dorothy day you know probably in her 70s looking utterly convicted at a couple of what I imagined to be slightly intimidated police officers I think that this is in California at a farm workers

March or demonstration if my memory serves me correctly but this is my first faith zero this is reading about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement and I ended up spending a summer in Catholic Worker houses and actually living in the

Catholic Worker house here in Chicago after I graduated from college this is when I thought to myself faith is about doing justice and being and it doing justice because that is how God would want us to live and even though I

Never wanted to convert to Catholicism so wisdom and inspiration that I got from Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement there is no way for me to overstate that and it is that set of kind of experiences right the time in the Catholic Worker movement the recognition of of King being principally

A reverend in and not a doctor if you will if you kind of take that the poetic nough some that the the interfaith thread actually thread is too slight of a way to put in the Interfaith center of a lot of the most inspiring movements of

The past 50 or 60 years that is that is how I got to be a part of interfaith work that was a huge part of IFYC and it’s in its first 10 years and as we move on to Laurie’s presentation and speak of being theorists of a public

Square and the eruptive public square part of what I am interested in exploring is how do we join the civic and and the spaces that we might think of as civic and the spaces that we might think of as focused on justice especially when we know that different religious traditions have different

Definitions of justice thank you Eboo Calvin hey I welcome you to talk next hi again everybody Eboo thank you for for those comments for those reflections and remarks what I am going to briefly talk about is what I’m calling teaching to transgress teaching to transgress dismantling white

Supremacy with interfaith perspectives but before we dive in a lot of what I’ll be talking about in the former half of my time is sort of foundational elements things that some of us probably already know probably all of us know but it’s a

It’s good to start with shared and common language not just for our time now but for our times in the future and so I’m happy to share these things with you so we can we can go to the next slide here and so teaching to transgress

I want to talk about really foundational elements of what of what we’ve been experiencing in this country for the past 400 years or so and so like I said a good bit of this will be sort of foundational but it’s good that we start

Here so there are many different definitions of racism that we can pull from some from economics some from the social sciences others from the humanities and what I want to do is I wanted to pull two definitions that really get at sort of the the intersections of sort of racism classism

And the other sort of modes of oppression that that are that exists in this country so we define racism as a systemic allocation of goods privileges benefits and rights advantaging white people define as a systemic allocation of goods privileges benefits and rights advantaging white people a Patricia Hill

Collins a black feminist scholar puts it another way a system of unequal power and privilege where humans are divided into groups or races with social rewards are evenly distributed to groups based on their racial classification and so when we those who definitions I I like because it moves away from how in the

Public square we tend to talk about racism as sort of individual biases individual modes of living what happens in in your head in your heart and all of that is also true and at the same time racism is institutional racism is

Structural racism is systemic and what all of that comes together to produce is white supremacy as the dominant social system in the United States white supremacy as the dominant social system in the United States we can go to the next slide so anti black racism then is a primary feature of white supremacy

Right and so as whiteness is being codified in the early twentieth century in the courts it was being defined against blackness the degree to which your race deviates away from whiteness determined your racial place in the social order and so with the blackness being antithetical to whiteness that’s how models of that’s

How narratives model minorities were formed in shape and so it’s important that we really start there and understand that racism it’s structural and institutional we say these words and we say all of these phrases that sound good and that are true but a lot of times we don’t actually talk about what

That means and what that looks like and so as race as I said is being defined in the courts in the nineteen twenties 1930s as sweeping immigration is happening and then being pause we’re really starting to understand just how after slavery after emancipation white supremacy continues to be the dominant

Mode of the social order and so since racism and white supremacy are systemic structural and institutional our solutions to these things must attend to the system structures and institutions especially the ones that we contribute to in our part of primarily for our time together now the Academy the spaces

Where students come to be shaped and formed and if they are being shaped and formed at universities that were also created in a white supremacist environment then a lot of the ways in which we do what we do is formed and

Shaped by white supremacists are and so that you know I first started to learn about racism in this way in graduate school at Emory University and even as a young black man that that was I wouldn’t say hard for me to accept but I

Definitely hit a wall in my own sort of understanding of what racism was although I had experienced it pretty much all of my life as a young black man as a child as a young black child as well learning about just how deeply

Entrenched racism and white supremacy is in our systems in our structures and our institutions is important so even as we talk about solutions we must attend to the ways in which these systems and structures compound to create particularly particular experiences of oppression and so I’m

Thinking of other systems and structures such as racism capitalism ableism gender bias Islamophobia etc right all of these things don’t exist in the vacuum I don’t experience racism at one point and didn’t experience sort of classism in capitalism at another point right as a young black man who grew up

In the inner city of Chicago I experienced those things together and so we must attend to the ways in which these sort of systems compound and come together to create particularly experiences which is why I remember I was teaching a class called black love Emory in the College of Arts and

Sciences while I was in graduate school there and it was a class of about I would say ninety students and I would say 98% of those students were black and a lot of the tension that existed in that space over the course of our

Semester by the way this is also the fall of 2016 and we know what happens in you know November of 2016 current administration is elected and so I’m saying this to say I remember the ways in which students were pretty much

At each other hands and I’m particularly thinking of black male or male identifying students in black womens students because a lot of the young like women were trying to get young black men to understand that they experienced a unique type of oppression because it’s racism a misogyny and sexism etc etc etc

And so that creates a particular experience for them in this country that I wouldn’t have as young black male and so as we’re teaching and as we’re thinking about that how do we navigate those type of dynamics in our classroom

We must tend to the ways in which as I said these systems and structures compound and come together and come on top of each other to create unique experiences that we have to tan to you go to the next slide Carolyn so James Kong the founder of Black Liberation Theology

One of my biggest biggest heroes and scholarly influences once said what difference does it make that one should prove a philosophical point if that point has nothing to do with spreading freedom throughout the land and this is

Jarring for me it moves me because as I think about my own role and as we think about our role together as pedagogues what are we aiming towards right what are we moving towards what are we teaching towards which is why I wanted

To title this presentation teaching to transgress because our teaching has to be about freedom the writer billhook says teaching as a practice of freedom education as a practice of freedom and so as I think about how the role James Cone plays both in the black church but also in the

Wider sphere of a religious American Christian America I think about this quote and I think about the ways in which our teaching must must move towards freedom must move toward liberation and so it is not enough we

Can go to the next slide it is not enough to simply be not racist right you must be anti-racist and I’m sure that this is a phrase that I’ve heard in many different in many different spaces in the public square and public

Conversations you know within the past three or four weeks or so and I really want us to to meditate on it and to think on that day it’s not enough to simply be not racist but you must actively put your intention and attention to dismantling systems and structures that perpetuate or advance

White supremacy and for us it starts home but we but it moves on our campuses and moves to our classrooms and so what does this look like for us as we move into that for my final remarks what what what could this look like for us for a

Lot of us who are religious scholars and professors we have to have a critical examination of Christian privilege in the ways in which especially Christianity reinforced white supremacy this could look like a ton of different things who’s in here for example who’s in your can in who are the

Authoritative voices that you lift up that your students here I also think about how you know growing up I didn’t receive education about King that taught me about his critiques of imperialism capitalism and militarism right and I’m thinking about how this plays how this plays with the concept of

Intersectionality as the the scholar kimberlé crenshaw divides it who coined the term imperialism capitalism and militarism come together to create not just a unique type of oppression for african-americans black Americans and other people of color in the United States but around the world

When you think about the United States presence and our role and the dismantling of governments across across the world we have to really think about how King uses his specific religious voice as eboo said King as a reverend

And not just King as a doctor to critique these and that that leads on to an honest account of the effects of chattel slavery in the United States and its current legacy when we talk about policing the slave fort rose and we’re

Talking about police brutality we have to have a critical examination of the ways in which slavery it’s still in effect today and what we would call the criminal justice system or the prison industrial complex and the scholar Michelle Alexander who is a visiting professor now at Union Theological

Seminary in New York her book title the new Jim Crow talks a lot about this and she has specific religious voices who lift up just how our prison system is both a sort of a stain against our suppose and and professed Christian heritage in this country and so this is what the

Things look like in our in our classrooms you go to the next slide Carolyn as I think about the role of religion and the role of religious voices and scholars I automatically think about Malcolm X who sits outside of what scholars typically called the civil rights movement he’s particularly

In the Black Power movement right and those things sit adjacent to one another and intersect in many different ways but they do have very distinct philosophies and I think about how Malcolm Malcolm X says there’s nothing in our book the Quran that teaches us to suffer peacefully right he’s using his specific

Religious voice to talk about what’s happening in the in the 60s and of course but before then he says our religion teaches us to be intelligent to be peaceful to be courteous to obey the law to respect everyone but he goes on

To have other comments this is when he’s talking to it’s a message to a grassroots activist in November 1963 in Detroit he’s saying that there’s nothing in the in the book and he’s talking about Quran that teaches us to suffer peacefully meaning there’s nothing that teaches us to take racism and other

Modes of oppression peacefully right and so he’s using his specific religious voice to land to land itself – to freedom it’s an insulation and I think for so long we have been taught that teaching especially teaching religion should be purely descriptive right but that’s part of the framework I believe

That upholds and perpetuates white supremacy because the ways of which many of us were taught to teach and to teach religion specifically and even other subjects in the humanities was created and taught in a white supremacist environment and so when I talk about teaching to transgress I’m thinking

About how we live in the most religiously diverse nation in the world it’s eboo Sarah Lee that some scholars have said and we know younger generations are becoming less and less interested in organized religion so then how do we teach religion in a way that students see

The cultural value of it how it’s applicable to what they’re living in their day-to-day lives how do we teach in a way that shows students religion is not irrelevant it’s not some archaic ancient concept that our that our ancestors and four founders we’re interested in but it has something to to

Say to them now so here are just some questions to consider of course you can Wilson this I’ll send these questions out afterwards and our follow-up but pedagogically instructionally what voices do you privilege and what stories are considered history how do you have students reimagine the world not based

On white supremacist cultural norms what organizations do you privilege when suggesting service projects and internships and do they have a commitment to racial justice and equity and then finally the last slide even personally being an anti-racist what actions do you take to support the

Equity efforts on your campus how often do you advocate fiercely for academic departments and co-curricular programs that teach promote and advance equity justice and inclusion and finally how often do you continue to educate yourself on anti black racism and the experiences of your black colleagues and

Students and so this is a conversation obviously that will continue I’m happy to be in conversation with you of course throughout the summer as you are building your classes and programs online Thank You Calvin and – Laurie you’re muted Laurie yeah thank you so much both eboo and Calvin incredibly

Thoughtful and wanted to just say when we all three of us met and we talked about how we were going to think through the question of interfaith work and anti-racist work I began to think about the ways in which the who owns religion

Book began to address some of these questions but it doesn’t do so as directly as Calvin and eboo just did it comes up in a number of different contexts both colonial and postcolonial contexts in the book but I think it

Comes out most strongly and most focused in the definition that Calvin just gave about the systemic allocation of goods privileges benefits and rights advantage of white people in the Sam Gill case study and so I chose that case study as

A way for us to think through those questions and I want to say at the beginning and this is something I think that was part of the world views and ways of thinking that both EBU and Calvin suggested just now that attending

To the particularity of experience is absolutely crucial and so the book does not attend to the particularity of black experience but the case study on the mother earth book does attend more to the particular area of Native American experience and I was thinking about which case study would be the most

Helpful for us to think about racial justice and equity given where we are today and given the aftermath of George Floyd and so many others murders and the heartbreak that so many of us are feeling again around what’s

Happening in this country so what I thought I’d do is share with you I think something that has as I think about it a kind of racial element to it motivation to it in our country which is the fragility of the public square and

So I’m going to tell you a little bit about why I wrote the book how this the book emerged and then connect with some of the remarks that eboo and Calvin just made in relationship to that question in that

Concept so as you may remember from the introduction a part of this work came about because a public square whose rules we thought we knew had broken open it came about for me personally with the story that I share in the introduction

Of a Hindu scholar Paul Cartwright being attacked by a group of Hindus in the United States which then became a global movement and a lot of the rejection of his work critique of his work had to do with the colonial and neo-colonial

Context in which the book was written and it sparked a very big debate and I found myself trying to manage it through the legal offices at where Calvin used to be Emory University when I was chair of the religion department there and I

Realized that we just didn’t have the language for figuring out how to deal with this and no graduate student was ever trained to think about these questions and so what I really felt responsible for as chair of the religion department then later as the inaugural director of the Center

For faculty development at Emory so faculty development to Carolyn’s earlier point is absolutely in my blood and then Duke and the Dean of Arts and Sciences and now as president Middlebury is in each increasing role that I had I was responsible more and more for that public sphere for the the decency

Civility all those words that are being questioned now as functions and tools of a white supremacist culture and yet still there’s something in them for me that means something and I the term that I still use in this space is respect and

That’s something that has been deeper and deeper sense of responsibility that I have for those things and so I wanted to write this book it took me 14 years to write this book I wrote many other books and articles and other things in

Between and part of the reason why I didn’t couldn’t finish it is for two reasons one is the world kept changing and every time I thought I was done with the scandals and controversies another one would come and I realized after a

Certain point that and my editor kept saying in 2003 and four when I started this he kept saying okay you better hurry up you know these are going to get old pretty soon and finally I realized you know what I’m gonna take so long

That we’re going to do intellectual history instead and that’s exactly what I I did is is write a piece about the 90s when this emerged with a pace and intensity that it hadn’t before and and I think I’m very glad that I took as

Long as I did i immerse myself in theories of the public square particularly critiques of Habermas and ideas about what it means to be in a public square habermas as you know has an idealized view of the public sphere Square and which people who might be religious and

People who nonreligious can work through reason building on Richard Rorty and many other philosophers – a space where religions reasons become transparent and you can see reading that even in the 90s you know that that could be a very interesting way to approach this

But the critiques of Hamas in this space particularly around religion are twofold number one and this is sort of central to ebu and Calvin’s work as well is what they shared with you today which is why should a religious person in the public

Sphere translate why should we have to translate into rationality in order to be comprehensible and it’s a very good question and the answer could be because that’s the only language of the public square and all of the case studies in the book are places where that rationality of the public square wasn’t

Sufficient and it becomes a place of eruption because the rules that apply no longer can apply people are literally speaking two different languages and it’s not just that they don’t understand each other but something’s at stake and nothing can be followed no rule can be followed in terms of conduct and so the

Name for it that I coined as you saw was the eruptive public space notice that I don’t say sphere I say space because a sphere implies a certain kind of ordered nature to it and interrupts in public is one where usually two goods the right of

A people to represent themselves and the right of a scholar to academic freedom come into direct eruptive and in certain cases violent conflict with each other so this is a book about the Academy and the critiques of the Academy that Calvin referred to both racial religious colonial post-colonial and so on and it

Was a series of controversies that really pointed out I think for some of the first times the space of privilege and in this case we might want to say white privilege that the Academy was and yet at the same time

Thinking through the question of how a scholar can and should be free to pursue their own intellectual agenda and so the the thing that I think you know the erupted public does is always not always but pretty close a surprise suddenly it’s there as startling it may be something that someone expected maybe

Long term but it tends to be sort of overwhelmingly startling and as I chose by six cases that occurred in late 80s and early 90s it was really clear to me that religious communities and racial identities did overlap in many of these

Cases the sikh case I chose a Catholic case a seat case a Hindu case a Jewish case a Muslim case in a Native American case and certainly the Sikh and Hindu cases as well as its ismail cases have racial components to them I’m a South

Asian is so many of the ones that I lived or lived with friends indirectly three of them were related to South Asia in some way or other but one of the things that I tried to do in the book was to write about these cases in such a

Way that even though I knew very well what my own position was or where I identified with folks I also felt that it was very important to be aware of where my own empathise were so I tried to write in a not in a neutral way

Because that was impossible but in a reasoned careful way which tried to honor all of the different points of view that were there the one case that was impossible for me to do that interestingly was not the one that I’ve

Most closely which was Jeff rifles case’ in the study of Hinduism but it was this case of Sam Gill and the Native American case and the reason a pause just a little bit to share only the beginnings of a story a friend of mine is now

Asking at Middlebury’s we’re doing some interviews the candidates what their racial journey has been a journey of racial identity has been to Calvin’s earlier points and I think Eboo you know in his four slides puts it so beautifully as well with the Interfaith work those folks are on both spiritual

Journeys as well as racial journeys it’s very interesting because white people don’t have racial journey stories many do not we do have religious journey stories but I think we’re now beginning to see because of what’s happening in our country now how important it is for us

To also under not only understand our white privilege but also be in a space where we can share some of the story of our awareness of our own racial identity relative to others and relative to those systems that Calvin was talking about

And so my own very brief story is in the context of writing a novel which I’ve never published one of which one part of which involved the Native American character I began to surreptitiously through stolen hours of the night do a

Lot of study of the history of Native Americans in my area where I grew up in Salem Massachusetts and I learned basically of the slow genocide of those people the woman that lived and I learned of the woman who probably lived

And fished and hunted and grew corn right and the land that I myself grew up on in a 18th century farmhouse and in Salem Village near Salem Massachusetts and in the course of learning about that group of people as well as the

Particular woman who wanted to be featured in my novel and the Native Americans who continue to live in Massachusetts and in in descendants of these groups most of whom have gone to Canada but some have not I began to become much more aware of the responsibility that I had to write race

And to be related to race differently and I came up with the idea in the process of writing this novel of something I call racial sorry literary reparations which is that white people can in fact only write what they know but they can write about their own indebtedness differently indebtedness to

Other races and I think that the writing through indebtedness is an incredibly important piece by total accident one night I also learned that I was directly descended from the man who stole the land from the Native American woman that

I wrote about it was around 2:00 a.m. I will tell the details that next year when we see each other but as a result of that it would shook me to the core because I had already discussed and begun this idea of racial reparations at

Literary reparations about race and I suddenly was given my own very specific reparation to write and to think about knowing that I I was directly descended from that person and that the house that I lived on was the place was was was

Stolen from this from this woman so that’s a small very small version of a racial journey that I have been on and part of that made writing the Sam Gill story incredibly difficult to to do because I Sam Gill was from the

University of Chicago where I got my PhD I knew him I deeply appreciate his commitment to academic freedom and yet I also felt very profoundly an identification with the name Americans who objected to what was clearly an unintended characterization of Mother Earth but you can see now in

The lens of 2020 the ways in which systemic racism runs through his interpretations of Mother Earth and he’s actually not talking to Native Americans in scholarly work that he’s doing he’s fighting with white Europeans about what they think mother earth is it’s not a fight or even a discussion of Native

Americans it’s with Native Americans and so that’s an example of the kind of system that we can see emerging in this case study and the other thing I would say is that the eruptive public sphere where most of the folks who started to

Ban Native American groups who started to ban sam Gill from coming and working with them and studying them and so on were folks who were he was very surprised by this he hadn’t seen it before and I think it’s partly because

He hadn’t seen the ways in which claiming that mother earth was something that was part of the negotiations that various groups had with the United States government which he thought was sympathetic to the Native American groups was in some ways taking away a fundamental understanding of their own

Depth of culture that they felt should be owned by them and so I think Sam Gill profoundly underestimated the degree to which the public space and the public sphere both in the Native American context was the history of eviction enslavement and genocide of native Native Americans which made that

Goodwill Habra Massey and moment impossible and I think Sam Gill began to write and wrote earlier in his other books that were less controversial in such a way that he hadn’t thought about that pain and he had acknowledged what it would look like for

Him to write as a white person in a very different context of reflection part of what I will OTT of people asked me well what would you have done in each of these cases how would you have looked at these scholars views and so forth then I

Feel like I owe it to people having written this book to write to write an answer and one of the things I would say about Sam Gill is that he could have written about the fact that the idea of Mother Earth was powerful and very

Powerful in the rhetoric of the Native American groups in their negotiations of the United States government without then moving to the next thing which is therefore she doesn’t exist because she doesn’t have rituals she doesn’t have traditions etc the place where a more racially just way of thinking would have

Stopped would have been maybe I better find out how that statement might be experienced and maybe I better find out what kinds of depths there actually are in that tradition and so that’s where I’ll end by just saying that part of

What was compelling to me about this case study was how difficult it was in most three out of the six case studies people left the field because of that impossibility the eruptive-ness of the public space was so great that the

Possibility of a public sphere was not able to occur Mac spencey use a critic of habermas somebody whose work I love and he talks about that there are certain kinds of color in religious public conversations where religious people in the public square should make themselves opaque non transparent not

Translatable in some way or other and I think that’s a beautiful beautiful phrase and he I end the book with his with is thinking around that as well and it’s a very powerful quote which talks about because of the brokenness of the the language in the eruptive public space it

Also can be and become somewhat beautiful and what I love about that idea is that the the language that scholars can use and the language that we use is halting we don’t know we don’t know how to translate the habermasian

Model doesn’t work and so we are always using broken language and broken words and yet in that brokenness I think they’re kind of emerge a kind of beauty so I’ll stop there thank you Laurie so in the interest of time I’m gonna hand

It back to EBU to share a little bit about what ific is developing to to assist you and to be in conversation with you about these topics in your classroom then we’ll look at a few other resources if we don’t get to your

Questions today we will be able to facilitate a little bit of that later on all right so yes okay all sorts of Awesomeness going on how am i zoom friends doing okay all right okay so here so IFYC is in the development of

Several high-quality online modules that we hope can be both useful as kind of texts on their own and especially useful as a set of teaching just simply has to occur online next year even if campuses are somewhat in residence we know collectively that there will be more online teaching even on residential

Campuses and so part of what Calvin will discuss in a minute is the the online course that IFYC has developed that came out of this the many years of this seminar that Laurie have co-facilitated and that was developed in partnership with with the Luce Foundation so Calvin and maybe Rob

Will say a word about that it’s it’s kind of an actual course it’s also a set of kind of online videos that can be used as a text for a course my question for you right now and I’d love to just kind of see a show of thumbs up or like

You know hands or whatever technological thing you want to do but ifs he is looking to develop at least two online modules on interfaith leadership and racial justice one that is roughly along the lines of my presentation the role of interfaith the centrality of interfaith cooperation two relatively well-known

Movements for racial justice civil rights hemorrhage and the struggle in kind of a similar ways I presented it like you know here here’s the inspiration of the people involved here’s how they shared inspiration here are some of the texts that were involved etc etc and one along the lines of a

Calvin discuss which is like something you know that just needs to be talked about which is the role that theology plays in constructing white supremacy and so we’re looking at the development of two online modules along those lines

We’re good that the idea is to develop them in such a way that they would kind of each last for something like a 50 minute course period right so so you could teach them as a as a single like 11:00 a.m. to 1150 course and ify C

Might have some staff available to like zoom in to either your zoom course or your in-person course to kind of lead your students through this module I just want to get a sense from you all if like just from the that little information

You think to yourself Boy that that’s gonna be really useful I’m gonna slot Carolinian or Rob in or Calvin in for 11 a.m. September 18th to teach something on interfaith leadership and racial justice generally speaking useful okay okay terrific thank thank you for that I

Think that’s it that’s enough for us to give it is anybody like like in all honesty like is anybody super suspicious like you yo you cats should like should like not do that anybody super suspicious okay Laurie are you moderately suspicious no I’m I’m amused at the way you framed the

Question and you guys will see next year you’re gonna see us do lots of banter like this oh we have so much fun it’s so much fun okay Calvin it is it is all you Thanks Eboo oh as we close out I’ll briefly share some other

Resources that are available to you now Eboo mention one of them thanks for sharing your screen Carolyn so the first being excuse me the interfaith leadership video series it’s an online 8 lesson curriculum exploring the fundamentals of interfaith leadership created by IFYC and Dominican University

The curriculum you see this Calvin can you guys see this yes okay this is the curriculum looks like oh no I can only see the PowerPoint it’s trying to show the curriculum oh no worries yes so the curriculum can be used as a whole or

Particular modules of interest can be integrated into any of your courses and of course will be here to help you figure out all of that in a follow-up email you received the links to all of this and more detailed information of

The of how this can can serve you best so the second one is the teaching interfaith understanding library so it contains syllabi teaching tactics and assignment descriptions created by alumni of the CIC and IFYC seminar so what what you’re a part of now faculty who have been through the

Seminar have created these assignments these syllabi it’s almost 50 resources including case studies interview site visits etc so you can browse that and pull out as you need to and of course as I said we’ll be here to help you figure out what that looks like if you need it

Our Interfaith America site which was launched back in March right sort of at the start of the koban 19 pandemic in America and school shutting down it’s a site that is linked from IFI sees main site stories articles resources about inspiration and solidarity community connection interfaith learning resources

Etc also some recordings of past webinars that we’ve done there’s a webinar on how schools dealt with graduation and commencement during the shelter in place order etc and you’ll receive the link for that as well there is some great great articles on there about inspiration and solidarity from

Scholars and other folks who have wrote about how they are dealing with this and what we can where we can gain from this time together there are two upcoming webinars with EBU and Laurie in August sorry killing he go to that slide I skipped ahead you’ll receive this information and invitation cities this

Will be open to our entire network so once you do receive those the invitation please let your colleagues know who may be interested I mean anybody else and then finally Carolyn you can go back to that last we will be offering some

Grants on interfaith cooperation and racial equity so classes that are or faculty and curriculum development that sits at the intersection of interfaith cooperation and racial equity and will provide more information on that later and then finally this summer we we’ll be offering support to you

Individual calls cohort calls etc as you develop and revise your courses especially for online adaptation areas of support you can see them their pedagogical tools and tactics content resources etc if you want to take advantage of that just simply email me calvin and i fyc org and we’ll set up a

Call and i believe that is it close out yes I’m sorry I’m sorry I was just checking on we had a couple questions here we will share the powerpoints from today in terms of the modules for the racial justice racial equity courses

Eboo I believe we’re thinking about them as one module for each or are you thinking about them at this this is new we’re impressive developing so yeah so we I am imagining that in the next six weeks we will have a module that is kind

Of appropriate for a 50-minute course which of course you can you can double click you can kind of expand yourself but one module that feels a little bit like my presentation interfaith cooperation in racial justice movements and in the in within a month or two after that which is to say call it

September October we will have at least one more module on something along the lines of interfaith cooperation and and white supremacy so the racial justice movements will come out first thank you so we’re gonna look for opportunity to facilitate a little bit more conversation since we didn’t have

Time for questions we do have a couple minutes so I just want to ask if there’s any question specifically about ways that ific can support you or the next year or other resources that we have or any other kind of quickest questions

Um yeah sorry Kayla’s question or any kind of syllabus sharing program so typically yes as part of the as part of let me explain so one the teaching interfaith understanding seminar library which is on i-4 C’s website is a collection of syllabi that have been collated over the past seven years that

We’ve done this several years we’ve done this so you can find some there when we meet together what we have done in the past is you all contribute syllabi and then you workshop them together if there’s an interest in sharing those as

You’re working on them this year Calvin and I can figure out a way to do that over the course of the year so you can begin those conversations before we get together next summer and one thing that is really kind of cool about this that

I’m thinking about now I mean it’s frustrating because it there’s nothing like a kind of interactive engagement on in sort of larger reflection on questions about civic space that Hebrew uses their public sphere but I think we will have the advantage of having a little bit of time prep time on zoom’

Before we actually meet which is a pedagogical model that many people in immersive learning responses actually suggest is that there’s a lot of online prep time before you deep dive into an immersive learning experience I think that’s gonna be really wonderful for people as well I just offered to

Caroline that if I know there were some I got some great questions about the book if people are interested in meeting again and if I fyc does it wants to host it specifically to have a conversation about the current that stuff that came up today I’m certainly willing to do that next week

If people people are available well Calvin and I will set we’ll email and get a sense of whether that will work for folks and we’ll set that up okay thank you for that offer we appreciate it a lot thank you all for your time this afternoon I apologize

That we didn’t get to all the that we didn’t get to the questions but as I said the benefit of postponing here is that we can do a little bit of backwards design and do some of this content work first before we get together in the room

So be well please look out for the email from Calvin I we especially want you to look out for emails that tell you about the upcoming grant opportunities as well as upcoming webinars as well as upcoming curriculum so and as always if you have

Any questions or if you’re just wondering if we have something email us and if we do we’ll get it to you if for the wrong people we’ll get you to the right people so thank you all thank you abundantly – Laurie for your time today

And we look forward to seeing you all again

#Conversation #Interfaith #Studies #Racial #Equity