How’s everybody doing? Great, I hope? Apologies that I didn’t get an essay out on Sunday; last week started with the first holy days of Sukkot, then one work day and then flying to Atlanta for a packed, fabulous few days, getting back basically in time for the end-of-Sukkot holy days.
Anyway, I’ve noticed momentum slowing down for these conversations, so let’s bring two chapters in today, see if that mixes things up a little bit?
Yes, it’s still asynchronous, this is just the space for 4 and 5 to be engaged together. Let’s try and see what happens?
What are some of the institutions of which you are a part? Schools? Places of work? Social groups? Religious community? Social networking websites? What else?
Are there institutions in which you could have a possible role with regards to harm–knowing that every institutional harm has many actors? Whether as a decision-maker, someone who could influence decisionmakers or other stakeholders, someone tasked to carry out orders, a bystander, or some other role?
Have any of those institutions caused harm? If so, in what way? Did it impact you in some way?
Have you ever experienced “institutional betrayal”? If so, what happened? How did it impact how you thought about the institution? Yourself? Others connected to the institution? Did that feeling change over time?
Can an institution do repentance work? If so, what’s involved?
Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas suggests that a common pitfall of universities doing work around reparations for slavery is that “after the money has been paid to enslaved ancestors or for scholarships and other programming—systems and structures are not disrupted. Life goes on as usual—and these institutions continue to benefit from the ongoing legacy of white supremacy to the detriment of people of color.” And that, just as if not worse than that, universities that were not actively involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade then consider themselves exempt from the work of looking at how they uphold white supremacy. What does this example teach us about the work of repentance and institutions more broadly? How might it apply to one or more of the institutions of which you are a part?
How would you characterize the national repentance processes in South Africa and Germany? In the United States?
What are some obstacles to national repentance? What are some of the things that make it more possible?
Why does Ruttenberg argue that the confession step is so critical to the work of national repentance? What are some risks involved in focusing too much on confession?
Ruttenberg says that “we are held accountable for all that we have not actively worked to undo”. Name one national social justice issue that has received news coverage recently and reflect on whether you have yet taken action addressing that, or any other, injustice. What is one small step you can take to address harm in your community or nation?
What concrete steps can you take to educate yourself and others on historical injustices?
What are some useful strategies for targeting oppressive systems?
Source sheets here and here, feel free to reference them!