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Collaboration of the Dream

In October 2019, the Lillian E. Smith Center hosted “Celebrating Lillian Smith,” a symposium commemorating the 75th anniversary of Strange Fruit. Last October, we hosted “Untangling Whiteness: Reflection and Action,” a virtual conference that explored the constructions of whiteness and ways for us to works towards a more equitable society for all. This coming Thursday, March 4, the Lillian E. Smith Center will host “Collaboration of the Dream,” the bi-annual symposium on arts and social change.

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Humanity and Beauty Amidst Brutality

As I read the selections in Sarah Mirk’s Guantánamo Voices, a lot of thoughts came to my mind. I knew about some of this, but I did not know about most the stuff that occurred and continues to occur at Guantánamo. I did not know a bout the bounty program that led to most of the individuals imprisonment far from their homes. I think about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany who once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Mirk’s collection speaks, and as Omar El Akkad puts it in the introduction, “The stories in this book are, first and foremost, an antidote to forgetting.” They relay the truth, calling us to act.

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The Stoking of Fear

Every so often I’ll abruptly awake, out of dead sleep, because something startled me. Typically it’s a sound, in the dead of night, with the dim light of night streaming into the room, casting shadows all around. I’ll bolt up, heart racing, fearing to move lest whatever woke me pounces as I stumble around blindly in the dark. I think about someone breaking into our house for some nefarious reason to cause harm. Even though I know the chances of this occurring are minuscule, I’ve been conditioned to think it based on television commercials, new stories, stereotypes, and more. Eventually, when nothing happens, I’ll settle back to sleep, slowly, as the adrenaline fade. I realize it was the dog, in the other part of the house, rolling around in his kennel or some other sound that I shouldn’t worry about, and this puts me at ease.

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Same Wolf, Different Clothes: White Evangelicals and Critical Race Theory

Note: This post originally appeared on Arc Digital on November 20, 2020.

On August 18, 1963, 10 days before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, an article entitled “Our Laws Must Be Upheld” appeared in The Shreveport Times. The author derided the “Negro rights” revolution, writing that there has been “increasing public revulsion against the avalanche of propaganda that it is all right for Negroes and their white supporters to break laws in bloody street demonstrations because the so-called ‘rights’ they seek are something they are ‘supposed’ to have.” Part of this “avalanche of propaganda,” according to the author, was coming from church pulpits and the National Council of Churches. The author condemns their fight for social justice, at one point mocking it as “Divine law scourging the evil out of man’s law.”

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“Transmission of Racist Thought” Syllabus

Over the past few years, I have thought about the transmission of racist thoughts, the myriad ways in which racism gets passed down from generation to generation and transmitted from person to person across the centuries and decades. I’ve thought about how we need to sever this circuit, breaking it in twain so that the information stops before the transmission occurs. If we cannot do this, then we must eradicate the misinformation from the depths of our psyches, pulling it up by the roots so that no aspect remains buried within ourselves. This is not an easy task to accomplish, but it is something that must be done.

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