Tag Archives: corporatism

Waiting For Krypton: Education Post for Media Diversity UK

Lee's depiction of DC Comics' Superman and Batman.

Lee’s depiction of DC Comics’ Superman and Batman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The opening scenes of the documentary Waiting For Superman depict education reformer/charter school advocate Geoffrey Canada as describing one of the saddest moments in his life. When he learned that Superman was not real, he was distraught because there was, in Canada’s words, “I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us.” From his perspective, DC Comics’ Clark Kent/Superman “just shows up and he saves all the good people,” “even in the depths of the ghetto.” As a fellow comic book fan, I would have to question whether Mr. Canada knows the story of Superman, and the criticism thereof from the likes of one of his allies for justice, Black Lightning (Jefferson Davis, who, in one rendition, just so happens to be a public school principal) , who noted that Superman may be Kryptonian, but he is still white, and avoids the Suicide Slums (the poor side of town where Metropolis is).

I want to lay aside that criticism, and talk about the idea of power, and what it means in eyes of education reformers. As I quoted Mr. Canada above, he was distraught that there was no one with all of the power to save what Geoffrey Canada calls “failure factories,” or schools in predominantly impoverished neighborhoods that primarily feed the community drop-outs and/or felons, and yes these are communities that are of predominantly black and Latin@ American populations. These “failure factories” are what stifle economic growth, deprive corporations of an educated workforce, and communities of stability. From the perspective of philanthropists such as Bill Gates (from the documentary and his history of being active in the Education Reform movement), children receiving education is for the purpose of the workforce, so that multinational corporations can keep up with global competition. In Waiting For Superman, the topic of power is not discussed again until we see education reformer/charter school advocate Michelle Rhee at work, who was given “broad powers” to make sweeping changes. The issue of power is an interesting topic, and to see it discussed explicitly in these two instances are what caught my attention. Where does power come from? Who has it? What does it look like?

For the rest of the essay, please go read Waiting For Krypton: Race, Ableism and Education Reform

Unfinished Business by Keri Day

If you would like to download the PDF version of this book review, please see the following link to Scribd:

Book Review: Unfinished Business by Keri Day: Scribd

Unfinished Business on Amazon.

Book Review: Unfinished Business: Black Women, the Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America by Keri Day. Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY, 2012.

I would like to thank Orbis Books for sending me a review copy of this book. In the first part of this book review, I offer a brief summary of Day’s work. I don’t want to give to many spoilers away, just enough for the audience to want to read more as I highly recommend this text. In the second part of my review, I would like to offer a brief theological proposal as it pertains to transcendence, economics, and ecclesiology.

Summary:

When I first met Dr. Day, it was at the student interview. Brite Divinity School was searching for a Black Church Studies professor and ethicist, and I had concerns about an assortment of economic justice issues in the Fort Worth area, and yes, even the Texas Christian University community. After Day gave her presentation, we the students were allowed to have an question and answer time. I asked Dr. Day what were her thoughts on the prosperity gospel. Although I do not recall her answer at that time, I would like to believe that this book, Unfinished Business is an answer to my inquiry. Day introduces her project by defining terms such as Black Church; in this case, Black Church means the activity of Black churches in the United States (3). Right away, I think that this definition establishes an inclusive ecclesiology and history. Rather than strictly defining Black Church/Black Church traditions as monolithic or as only those denominations established by African Americans, one could include in Day’s definition of Black Church, the number black churches within predominantly white denominations. Keri Day questions historians in their view that the Black church has always served as a prophetic witness (Chapter 1), and whether it is a Wilderness Experience or Surrogate world, Day argues these terms have been over-utilized when discussing Black Church. Whether we are talking about radicals like Adam Clayton Powell or Dr. Rev. MLK Jr. or the Reverend Jesse Jackson, at the forefront of civil and economic rights struggles have been the progressive strain of Black Baptist tradition. I wonder if there is something theological here, that makes Black Baptist both the most radical and possibly regressive (when it comes to women’s ordination especially) more adaptable to political activism. I’ll give you a hint: the Free Church tradition!

I like the term that Day uses for the Black Church, as a community of transcendence. While I will talk further about the theological implications of this notion, the way that Day and Victor Anderson understand transcendence, as seeing ultimate value in the world, being open to this value, and rejecting Ayn Rand selfishness in order to work for the good of others (28). While this use of transcendence does allow for womanist and liberationist theologians to be open to the experiences of others outside of the church, the use of the term “church” itself is exclusive to the Christian experience. Transcendence, in this light however, can be very helpful in discussing the Church’s relationship with the World, other social institutions that are non-confessional but that have become spaces for poor black women to use their agency.

In the second chapter, Day gives an overview of the history of Faith-Based initiatives and arguments for and against charitable choice programs/FBIs when it comes to public policy. As a strict church/state separationist, I find the Faith-Based Initiative whether it is ran by President Bush or Obama to be offensive and more likely a bribe from the state to religious institutions to silence them. Day is right that the danger of the Faith-Based Initiatives lies in the promotion of neoliberal values as absolute, without any challenge or critique. I think that’s the danger in charitable choice/FBIs in the first place; since the state and the economy are tied together since there has not been, as Optimistic Chad noted months ago, a separation of corporation from state, CC/FBIs silence criticisms of both the government as well as the economy.

My favorite chapter was chapter 3, which included a critique of Dinesh D’Souza. Day recognizes that D’Souza is an example of how free market values get racialized into racial social Darwinism, that the poor black people are this way because their culture is naturally inferior (page 52-53). Ronald Reagan’s attack against black welfare queens was a purely racially ideological move; it is ideological because it goes against all logic, and the facts. Whites have had the most benefits from social programs. Especially during legal segregation and the New Deal, whites received their Social Security checks on the backs of poor blacks. Day also ends her criticisms by exposing the new Jane Crow, how the state invests money in imprisoning black women (page 79-80). I was also shocked to learn that some states are going out of their way to link forced sterilization of black women with welfare policy (81-82). In the culture wars, social conservatives are the ones who oppose sex education classes in public schools and they are the ones who want cut backs in welfare. When it comes to race, however, commitment to whiteness, neoliberal values and advanced capitalism are to be preferred over pro-birth/anti-sex ed religious commitments.

Keri Day’s constructive proposal is found in the last three chapters. She has a discussion on the Poor People’s Campaign (its history and its failures in terms of gender inclusion), a discussion on redefining the prosperity gospel informed by the womanist principle of wholeness, and lastly an informed chapter on asset-building for the impoverished here in the U.S.

Overall, I would recommend this text for academic and church audiences.

A Brief Theological Proposal On Ecclesiology

I would like to return to the idea of Black Church as a Community Of Transcendence. The conversation about the “Woman Thou Art Loosed” portion of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ ministry gave me a lot to think about. To be honest, I actually felt convicted since I see it has highly problematic, but given the state of the world, where Don Imus can be a racist/sexist bigot and still have his own tv show on Fox Business, there are some benefits to the idea of women seeing themselves as “God’s leading ladies.” However, this is only a short-term solution to the long enduring problem of racism and sexism in America. What may need to happen is that the Black Church see itself as being in the Image of the Triune God, a Community of Transcendence initiated by a God who is Infinite, Incomprehensible, and at the same time Incarnation. The Black Church must resist things like racial stereotype of being the large group of angry black men (“prophetic”) and the Faith Based Initiative because that means others have defined our role in the world. The Black Church should be the community of the “I Am Somebodies”; for the Black Church, as it is for the Church Universal, it is YHWH the Redeemer and Liberator who sends Christ to give us meaning in the world.

Why Are Forbes Magazines' Writers So Racist?: A Look at the Top 1%

In what should be called “Forbes Hates Racial Minorities Week,” yesterday, John Koppisch wrote an EPIC, and by EPIC, I mean anything-but-groundbreaking racist propaganda against Native Americans. One brilliant commenter called Koppisch out on his B.S.: see in the comment section, dbartecchi’s response. It was informed educated, historically accurate, and written by a white person. **GASP**

Let’s take a look as some of these myths Koppisch is spreading, shall we? One Native American (the lone one interviewed for the article who obvious agrees with Forbes’ side–it’s called racial self-hatred), Yellowtail, says “We accept the myth of communalism. And we don’t value education. We resist it.” Now why in the world would Native Americans not value education for? Could it be that there was an epidemic of colonial violence, sexual abuse, and religious indoctrination at the missionary schools that is just now being uncovered?

Yellowtail’s hope is in his tribe to assimilate to Eurocentrism and the triumph of the religion of corporate capitalism over the traditional religious beliefs of the Crow tribe. The myth that neo-liberals and white supremacist crony-capitalism pushes is that the victims of history are where they are at in life due in large part to their own actions. There is no way that Andrew Jackson ordering the Trail of Tears, the removal of red (red being the racial construction of the dark bodies of Native Americans) bodies from their homes and placed on reservations, where the very worst land and water conditions were provided. The histories of the Native Americans, interconnected with the histories of all colonized peoples read like an open and shut case for Euro-centric thinkers like Koppisch:

“If everyone owns the land, no one does. So the result is substandard housing and the barren, rundown look that comes from a lack of investment, overuse and environmental degradation. It’s a look that’s common worldwide, wherever secure property rights are lacking—much of Africa and South America, inner city housing projects and rent-controlled apartment buildings in the U.S., Indian reservations.”

Wait, how did Africa become a symbol of lack in the first place? And South America? The Inner-city: imperialism, more than a century of racial segregation, but we don’t like to acknowledge those ugly details do we, Mr. Koppisch? For many Native Americans, because of their religious convictions, Vine DeLoria argues that their identity is tied to the land, and not the history of the left/right divide (God is Red, page 61). Crony Capitalism and racists would have us to believe that our religions must be defined by sets of objective belief, and this describes Native Americans conflict with the U.S. American court system (282).

The Native American religionists’ NO to proponents of “private property as prosperity” is a YES to the Spirit of Life, and creation, which respects the “universal planetary history” of all of creation. Tom Koppisch’s view represents the prevailing tribalist viewpoint, that our love for creation should submit to the economic decision makers of the world. But this should not be so, for just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued, to deny religious freedom is to deny our equality before God.

But that’s the points of Corporatism, isn’t it? Capitalism, as libertarians and free marketers argue, has little need for notions of economic equality. Shoving lies down people’s throats, telling others that the victims in life (particularly the darker peoples) are lazy all the while the Powers that Be offer handouts to the Status Quo.