Continuing the Conversation on Injustice
Just over two months ago, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked counterprotests around the United States. During the counterprotests in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer was killed by James Alex Fields Jr., when he drove his car into the crowd. These two sentences provide only the barest factual information about the August 2017 events, which sparked fraught political responses and conversations in academia, in our news media, and on social media about free speech, white supremacy, systemic racism, and injustice.
Now, two months later, it is important that we continue those conversations. For instance, maybe you watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. On August 23rd, he interviewed Bryan Stevenson and Andra Day. Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Andra Day is a grammy-nominated musician, currently best known for her song “Rise Up.” (Currently, a rendition of her song by middle school students at Cardinal Shehan School in Baltimore is going viral on social media.)
The interview is available on Comedy Central’s website; however, from here, you might be interested in learning more about Stevenson, his work, and the history of injustice he discusses in the extended interview. The Library has a copy of Stevenson’s book Just Mercy, available for check out, and his Ted Talk, “We need to talk about injustice,” is also available through the Library. If you are a secondary education major, you might also be interested in the Discussion Guide on Just Mercy, available on the Equal Justice Initiative’s website.
Or maybe you browed the Equal Justice Initiative’s website, after watching Trevor Noah’s interview with Stevenson and Day. Currently, the website features a project on Lynching in America, and discusses the need for a national memorial. The Library also has a number of resources on the ethics of memory and why and how we choose what we commemorate, including Sue Campbell’s book, Our Faithfulness to the Past: The Ethics and Politics of Memory and Avishai Margalit’s book,The Ethics of Memory.
In addition, the Library has resources that discuss the history of American memorials and their role in shaping our culture and how we respond to the past. For instance, you might be interested in or the edited volume Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory or the film Where Do We Go From Here: A Dialogue on Race.
If you are interested in the legacy of slavery and ongoing issues of injustice in America, consider looking into resources such as the documentary Banished, which examines three towns who were part of a movement between 1860 and 1920 to expel African American residents, and the legacy of those actions. Dr James Loewen, author of Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, writes that Banished “provides a remarkable exploration of four sundown towns — places where historically, and even today, African Americans could not live or even spend the night. It is the perfect antidote for those who think we live in a post-racial society.
Or, if you’re interested in Andra Day, and want to know more about the history of music within the African American community or the legacy of female artists in particular, check out William C. Banfield’s book Cultural Codes: Makings of a Black Music Philosophy or the documentary The Songs Are Free: Bernice Johnson Reagon and African-American Music.
And finally, if you’re looking for ways to take action, we have resources to help with that too! The Office of Intercultural Affairs has a collection of resources available in their office, including the book Everyday White People Confront Racial & Social Injustice: 15 Stories and the film Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.
These are just a few selected examples of the types of resources available through the Library; librarians are also availableto help you research any of these topics. Also, watch for events on campus, such as the 9th Annual Conference on Diversity and Inclusion, happening Wednesday, October 25th from 4pm-8pm!