What role can faculty play in changing the national conversation about campus dialogue?
That’s actually two questions in one.First, what national conversation –- or conversations — are we talking about?Second, what role -– or roles — can faculty play?I’ll take these questions one at a time.But first let me tell you where I’m coming from.
No, I’m not indulging in today’s identity politics.I’m not positioning myself by race or sex or gender identity or religion or sexual orientation?But I am going to play the age card.At 89, that’s one of the few cards I’ve got left.And it’s relevant to today’s discussion because age rhymes with experience, and three aspects of my personal journey inform what I’m going to say.
I’m Jewish. My first personal memory of antisemitism was when I was eight years old. I was in the synagogue with my father on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting, praying, and atonement.
We were engaged in silent prayer when all that silence was broken by loud yelling and banging as the door crashed in. A group of young white Christian boys were attacking us. They threw things at us and called us names like “sheeny” and ‘kike.” “Go back to your country. You don’t belong here,” they screamed.
I was terrified. We knew about the Nazi genocide of over 6 million Jews and other people who did not fit the Aryan “bloodline’. Many in our neighborhood had numbers tattooed on their arms from the Nazi concentration/extermination camps. All of that trauma was passed down to us.
I remember thinking, “How could they hate us so much? They don’t even know us.” At that early age, I wanted to get to know people who were different than me and have them get to know me so we wouldn’t hate each other. I also realized that to end hate, stop violence against us and find safety, Jewish people needed to join other people who had experienced discrimination. That became my mission.
Hear this very personal look at history from both an African-American and Jewish perspective. Don’t miss this amazing online discussion. Scroll down for the link.
In 1992, Ken Granderson, a graduate of MIT, launched his first software development company Inner-City Software, Brains in the Hood. He was committed to closing the Digital Divide by creating technology products and solutions by & for people of African descent. For a decade, he introduced Boston’s communities of color to computers and the Internet, giving local organizations and Boston’s Black newspaper an online world-class presence. Moving back to New York City, he was born in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, his achievements in technical design, education, and empowerment are nationally and internationally impressive. His website, BLACKFACTS, is an affiliate of the ADR. (CLICK to access)
Deborah coordinated the 1990 National Workshop on Christian Jewish RelationsIn and created her first Holocaust video in Rockford, Illinois, where she served as of the Jewish Federation’s executive director . She went on to become the Community & Media Liaison of the Tulsa Jewish Federation shortly after the OK City bombing and is the former exec. director of Chattanooga’s Jewish Federation. She carries on the work of her father who became the CFO of the American Jewish Archives. He served as a US military intelligence officer during World War II assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war. CLICK for more information about her memoir,The Liberator’s Daughter, and to hear an interview with her father about his wartime experiences.
Carlos: Steve, now that you’ve retired as Associate Director of Residence Life at the University of Maryland, College Park, I would love to get your thoughts about the changing nature of student speech.In the twenty-five years that I worked with your department, I saw many changes.
Steve: You’re right.The two of us certainly had fun designing our Common Ground program back in the 1990s.That program would bring together diverse groups of students – sometimes more than a dozen – to discuss current equity dilemmas.A series of four, 90-minute dialogue sessions, all framed around a single provocative question.Should laws governing abortion be changed?Should universities use intentional methods to diversify their student populations?Rousing and illuminating conversations.
Hear the online dialogue between two television / media experts discuss their ties to their respective communities, how they’re shaped by them, and how they report stories about them. * Scroll down for the link. *
LaTrice Currie is a native Tennessean who graduated from Hampton U. LaTrice joined Chattanooga’s Channel 3 Eyewitness News in 1995. She now co-anchors news at noon and 5:30 and also serves as Eye On Health Reporter and host of Trends on 3.
LaTrice’s awards include Chattanooga Woman of Distinction, Hamilton County Outstanding Citizen, Black Excellence Chattanooga “Best Media Personality,” Times Free Press “Best Chattanoogan, and NAACP Image Awards. She serves as ambassador for Go Red For Women and on various boards: Moccasin Bend Girl Scout Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chattanooga, advisory board for Volunteers in Medicine, and Partnership for Families, Children, and Adults.
Ilene Gould is a photographer, writer, illustrator and full time news producer for NewsChannel9 in Chattanooga where she has produced every show from mornings, to dayside evening shows, to nightside. She also co-produced an hour long Town Hall called “Changing Chattanooga”. Ilene is a Michigan State Graduate with a degree in Media and Information, a concentration in Film and Video Production, and minors in Fiction Filmmaking and Music.
Ilene also works part-time as Community Manager at Better Sax, where saxophonist Jay Metcalf teaches and creates online lessons to learn to play the saxophone by ear.
Be inspired! Hear these two creative souls who share a love of music from their respective religions. Scroll down for the link to the recording.
Melvin Kindall Myles is a Mississippi native, born and raised in the Delta area of Clarksdale, MS; known as the birthplace of the blues. He is a Soulful Christian and Jazz Vocalist now based in Atlanta, GA where you will find him regularly serving in the Worship and Arts Ministry of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the former pulpit of MLK Jr.
Welcome to the Black-Jewish Dialogue, a virtual exchange of information and perspectives . The November dialogue “Black and Jewish” has been recorded. Scroll down for the link to the Dialogue recording.
Bryant is a veteran of the US Army, and a graduate of the Military Intelligence Cryptologic College of Corry Station, Pensacola. After a particularly difficult deployment to Iraq he shifted his focus from intelligence analysis to Jewish community building, interfaith outreach, and inclusion initiatives. Bryant is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant working primarily with North American Jewish organizations, a Jewish Educator, Teen Engagement Mentor, a 2018 Union for Reform Judaism Jew V’ Nation Fellow, and bluegrass hobbyist. Bryant is currently studying the “Intersections, Conflicts, and Alliances of the Black and Jewish Diasporas” at Western Washington University (in preparation for Rabbinic school), and resides in Bellingham, Washington.
Dr. Barbara Weitz
Barbara is the former Director, Film Studies Certificate Program at Florida International University English Dept. She has done research for years with Dr. Tudor Parfitt and with the Kulanu Organization in identifying and supporting Isolated, Emerging and returning Jewish Communities around the world. She also has been on the steering committee of FCOS (Faith Communities Organizing for Sanctuary) and has spent time at our southern border trying to assist migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. She is currently heading up the organizing group preparing to help refugee Afghanis settle in the community. Through her research with Jews of Color, she has spoken at conferences and given webinars on the growing topic.
The monthly Black-Jewish Dialogues began in Chattanooga virtually in July 2020 and quickly spread across the USA and internationally. As our communities progress in understanding each other, we explore new topics each month. History is frequently an underlying theme.
The November Black-Jewish Dialogue focused on the economic impact of COVID-19 on our communities. With participants from coast to coast, Bermuda and Hungary, the dialogue has grown from a local Chattanooga initiative to a global discussion. Hosted by Chattanooga’s Mizpah Congregation in partnership with the American Diversity Report, the dialogue began in August of this year with monthly virtual sessions. Many thanks to Dr. Gail Dawson, Dr. Les Petrovics, and John Miles for sharing their expertise and experience with us.