Dr. Bettina Love is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Theory & Practice (Early Childhood, Elementary Education) in the College of Education at the University of Georgia. Love is the creator of “Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education” [http://getfreehiphopcivics.com/], and is the author of Hip Hop Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South (Peter Lang, 2012) and We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press, 2019). Lucia and Tina talked with Dr. Love about hip hop education, freedom schools, and breaking the cycles of oppression. Love encourages her teacher education students to take risks and go beyond gimmicks and tricks in teaching. In the current resegregated public schools systems, abolitionist teaching requires creating a culturally-responsive pedagogy in which all students matter.
Justice work requires reflection and resiliency. In Part Two Gordon asks the question: where does religion stand?—on the side of the status quo or the people most effected by injustice? He sees social change as a spiritual activity, and one that makes religion a force of unity in justice work. This activity means showing up and building solidarity with others over racial and economic justice. There are so many overwhelming issues to deal with–from climate change to the rise of white supremacist nationalism—that we are in a race against time. Winning the race is an intergenerational, interreligious action. Gordon leaves us not with despair at the enormity of the power imbalances and struggles, but with hope:
“The true value of the conversations and practices in Stand Up! may be that they help us stay human amid darkness and uncertainty. They give us courage not only to keep fighting but to care for one another” (Stand Up!, p. 62).
This July 2019 podcast is a conversation with Gordon Whitman, senior advisor of the interfaith group Faith in Action: Building a People-Powered Movement (formerly PICO National Network; https://faithinaction.org). He has a B.A. in history and urban studies and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Gordon did his initial work in community organizing in Santiago, Chile with a grassroots health collective during the Pinochet dictatorship to work for change, and then with parents in the Philadelphia public school system. His book, Stand Up!: How to Get Involved, Speak Out, and Win in a Word on Fire Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018; https://standupbook.org/ is a handbook for grassroots organizing. Gordon provides guidance into how to share stories, map and analyze power, strategize, and work for system change.
In Part One Gordon shares his background in community organizing and strategies to motivate groups to build relationships to act together. And he shows how anti-racism work is central to movement building and social change. One example he gives is the La Red Campaign, Faith in Action’s Network of Protection for Immigrant Families: https://faithinaction.org/issue-campaign/la-red/
In Part 2 of this conversation, share with us their strategies for creating open and democratic spaces in the classroom through specific games and other techniques such as storytelling, poetry, and the arts. They share their joy at being surprised at the creative innovation of their students, whether in k-2, university level, or k-12 teachers. In doing so, they share how they bridge the theory and practice divide, value the knowledge of their students, and engage in new meaning-making for a more just world.
The closing music is by Paul Myhre, “Love Never Fails” (2018) available for download on https://www.reverbnation.com
Misha Cahnmann-Taylor and Mariana Souto-Manning are “rehearsing for the revolution” (Augusto Boal’s term) in their creative teaching. In Part One of this podcast they share with us their stories of using theatre “as a way to train new teachers, and ourselves,” as well as create democratic spaces in classrooms through “culture circles” (Souto-Manning) and poetry and the arts (Cahnmann-Taylor). Join me in learning from these inventive teachers who are committed to embodied learning and serious play for transformative learning and social change.
Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor is Professor of TESOL & World Language Program (TWLE), Dept. of Language & Literacy Education, College of Education, The University of Georgia. Her blog is https://teachersactup.com/
Mariana Souto-Manning is Professor of Early Childhood Education & Teacher Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; Founding Co-director of the Center for Innovation in Teacher Education and Development (CITED).
For the May 2019 podcast we welcome Jerome Scott, co-founder of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide (f. 1986). Jerome visited my REL/EDU 385: Religion, Education, and Activism class in April and told his story of what led him to become an activist/scholar educator. He shared about his work in voting rights, worker and immigrant justice, coalition building, education, and movement support. Jerome’s main work has involved linking scholar activists with activist scholars in grassroots communities. And fitting for this time of high school and college/university graduations, he laid out his hopes for building the “beloved community” in the future.
Jerome has done so much social change work; here are links to more resources and the organizations he helped/helps lead as a model for the work of transformative change at the grassroots level.
Jerome is the co-recipient, with Dr. Walda Katz-Fishman, of the American Sociological Associations 2004 Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology:
Jerome serves on Move to Amend’s National Leadership Team:
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance:
League of Revolutionaries for a New America:
What to read to get started:
Walda Katz-Fishman and Jerome Scott, “Another United States Is Happening: Building Today’s Movement from the Bottom Up. The U.S. Social Forum and Beyond. Pp. 57-70 in The World and U.S. Social Forums: A Better World Is Possible and Necessary, eds. Judith Blau and Marina Karides. Brill 2008.
Intro and other interstitial music is by Lance Eric Haugan (theme music with Aviva and the Flying Penguins)
Otro music by Paul Myhre , “Zoe’s Moonrise–Year 1” (Myhre, 2019); available on ReverbnNation.com
In Part 2 of our conversation Martusewicz moves from root metaphors and their destructive, patriarchal force. With Wendell Berry she shows us how to write a better story to create a different world. For example, she discusses her pedagogical style of having a conversation with her students about how to teach a subject (such as, math) to calculate the cost of settler colonialism. Martusewicz (and Bowers before her) critiques Freire for relying too much on these roots metaphors, with the human remaining central in his theory. She wants to be in and of the ecological as a way to critique the direction of higher education toward neoliberal capitalism (and a business model of students as consumers) and offers a way to return to values and to being caretakers of the earth.
Theme and interstitial music for Nothing Never Happens is performed by Aviva & the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan, written and arranged by Lance Eric Haugan.
Additional altro music is by Paul Myhre and Mike Shelton, “Written” (2019). Their music can be found of reverbnation.com
Rebecca Martusewicz (pronounced: marta-savage) is Professor of Social Foundations and Community Education in the Department of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University. She was a founder and director of the Southeast Michigan Stewarship (SEMIS) Coalition, developing “citizen stewards of the Great Lakes.”
I spoke with Prof. Martusewicz about her new book, A Pedagogy of Responsibility: Wendell Berry for Ecojustice Education, (Routledge, 2018). She draws inspiration for ecopedagogy from the life and writings of conservationist, novelist, essayist, poet activist Berry. In her teacher education classes Martusewicz works with students on developing a cultural-ecological analysis. Berry’s writings helped in understanding the systemic causes of the contradictions in the anthropocene. Using C.A. Bower’s concept of root metaphors: emancipated individualism, a linear view of progress, and anthropocentrism, Martusewicz shows how humans are implicated in climate change and ecological destruction. Using Berry’s writings, especially his poetry and essays, she shows how to rebuild relationships back to wholeness.
Rev. Noelle Damico (United Church of Christ) is an activist educator and movement builder with the Alliance for Fair Food.[http://www.allianceforfairfood.org/]. She coordinated the 2 million member Presbyterian Church USA’s involvement in the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Campaign for Fair Food [https://ciw-online.org/], among many other food justicecampaigns. This podcast takes place in an actual class setting, my Religion and Ecology class at Agnes Scott College, a historic women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, GA. Noelle joined us via Skype in our unit on connecting issues of economic justice to the larger topic of sustainability.
What is often missing in mainstream discussions of the organic food movement is workers. Noelle takes us through the founding of the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s campaign and the “sea-change” it brought, and continues to bring, in the food system, to create a system that works for all people. Issues of safety, forced labor, human trafficking, gender violence, poverty wages, wage theft, and worker abuse are all parts of the history of injustices that CIW addresses.
A worker-driven social responsibility model begins at the work site, determined by the workers who become organizers and change-agents through marches, education tours, hunger strikes, boycotts, and other direct actions. Joining CIW are faith leaders and students as partners. One outcome on university campuses has been the cutting of contracts with Taco Bell on over 25 campuses. The current Boycott Wendy’s campaign [http://www.boycott-wendys.org/] seeks to continue to move companies beyond their “corporate responsibility codes” to real food justice. The CIW campaign has shown that changing the conditions in the field is at the root of a sustainable food future.
Pedagogy is an action verb here. On my campus the tomatoes in our dining hall are part of the fair food system; Aramark was (reluctantly but eventually) one of the signers. But our Aramark dining staff continue, through their own worker-driven campaign, to fight for fair wages and a workplace that offers respect and human dignity (through their union, SEIU). Though unionized, their struggle is difficult. Thus, fair farm and campus food workers are connected.
As part of the class students engage in a practicum with the campus Office of Sustainability in a variety of areas (climate change events, organic farming, National Audubon wildlife site, bees, and also economic justice with the campus Living Wage Campaign). One student working with the campaign joined the Aramark union steward and me on the WRFG Labor Forum, as well as our Economic Justice Teach-In. She also assisted with our “love poster” action in the dining hall for the staff—big posters we are hanging each week, signed with notes of appreciation and affection by community members, for each dining services staff member.
Theme music for Nothing Never Happens is by Aviva and the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan. Additional music is by Paul Myhre: “Dreams of Winter Sans Guitar (2019).”
My audio engineers are: Reagin Turner, China Wilson, and Megan Simmons. I can be reached at email@example.com.
“United, Unafraid, Undefeated, Unstoppable Leaders.” That is the description by the students of U-Lead Athens. Since August 2014 they meet every Thursday night at Oconee United Methodist Church, on the boundary of the University of Georgia (a university that bans undocumented students). Mentors and allies from the university (the UGA Undocumented Student Alliance) and the community gather to eat and study and plan for the future. Their mission statement states that they assist high school and recent graduates in preparing for college, identifying schools that are open to un(der)documented students, and applying for scholarships and other financial support. U-Lead Athens is a sanctuary, in the many meanings of that term, providing a supportive community.
In August 2018 my daughter Jacy and I visited U-Lead on a Thursday evening and interviewed current college students who returned to visit or volunteer, some current students, the director of volunteers, PhD student Nikki Luke, and two of the co-directors, Prof. JoBeth Allen and Prof. Betina Kaplan. The conversations set the context of the discrimination and anti-immigrant laws in Georgia, the activist work of students and allies to change these laws and provide access to higher education and in-state tuition, as well as working on justice issues around TPS and DACA status. The students shared their stories, their art, and their hopes and challenges.
Equal access to education is a human right. To support U-Lead Athens, click here:
U-Lead Athens website home page:
Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream (Beacon, 2015)
Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperLuxe, 2018).
Laura Wides-Muñoz, The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be an American (Harper, 2018).
For information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals):