In Part 2 Colleen and Willie bring us to the challenges of our current time with specific strategies for educating about systemic poverty. They show us an intersectional approach and offer tools for meeting people where they are. An engaged scholarship is at the root of their activist work. They end on a note of hope, as encouragement and challenge to engage in the work of social change.
At the fiftieth anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, the Poor People’s Movement, and the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I invited two activist-scholars involved in the New Poor People’s Movement to talk about popular education and movement building for social change. In Part 1, Willie and Colleen talk about the legacy of the sanitation workers’ strike and the Poor People’s Movement, and how they defined leadership and power and “found a way out of no way” in a politically charged 1968.
From the Kairos Center website:
“Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father of three who came out of the Watts uprisings and the Black Student Movement. He has 50 years of experience educating and organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed including working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers, as an educator and organizer with the National Union of the Homeless and its educational arm, the Annie Smart Leadership Development Institute, as the Education Director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union for 10 years, and as a lead organizer and educator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, as well as many other networks. He is a Board member of the National Welfare Rights Union, the United Workers of Maryland, Picture the Homeless in New York and on the Advisory Committee for the Wildfire Project. Willie is the author of numerous books, articles, and pamphlets including Pedagogy of the Poor, A New and Unsettling Force: Re-Igniting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign, It’s Not Enough to Be Angry, Lessons from the Poor Organizing the Poor: 5 Main Ingredients and the 6 Panther P’s. Willie presently serves as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Coordinator of Poverty Scholarship and Leadership Development for the Kairos Center.”
“Colleen Wessel-McCoy has been involved with the Poverty Initiative since 2004 and currently works as Co-Coordinator of Poverty Scholarship and Leadership Development, with Willie Baptist. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, Colleen received her undergraduate degree in religion and social justice from Agnes Scott College. She was part of the inaugural year of the Interfaith Service House and worked for several years as a tenant organizer in Chicago. She and John Wessel-McCoy have two children, Myles and Josephine. She has a MDiv from Union Theological Seminary and earned her Ph.D. in May 2017 in Christian Social Ethics with a dissertation on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision for the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 and its lessons for building a social movement to end poverty today.” Colleen also helped develop the Religion and Social Justice major at Agnes Scott College, along with being the first major in this program.
In Part 1 Willie and Colleen tell the story of the work of the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Part of the mission statement of the Center, based on the Greek word for “the right and opportune time,” is:
“We believe we are living in a kairos moment: A moment of great change and transition, where the old ways of doing things are breaking down, new ones are trying to emerge, and decisive action is demanded.”
In Part 2 of the podcast Professors Case and Rios talk about student and institutional resistance and challenges, along with concrete curricular and teach suggestions for a culturally relevant pedagogy.
Dr. Case’s blog has tons of resources and practical materials and is available at: www.drkimcase.com
Books and Articles:
Carastathis, Anna. 2016. Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. University of Nebraska.
Cole, Elizabeth, Case, Kim A., Rios, Desdamona, Curtin, N. 2011. “Understanding What Students Bring to the Classroom: Moderators of the Effects of Diversity courses on Student Attitudes.” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 17/4: 397-405.
Case, Kim A., ed. 2013. Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom. Routledge.
Case, Kim A., ed. 2017. Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice. Routledge.
Cho, Sumi K., Crenshaw, K.W., and Leslie McCall. 2013. “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications, and Praxis. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 38/4: 785-803.
Collins, Patricia Hill and Serma Bilge. 2016. Intersectionality: Key Concepts. Polity.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé W. 1991. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43: 1241-1299.
Dill, Bonnie Thorton and R.E. Zamrana, eds. 2009. Emerging Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy, and Practice. Rutgers University Press.
Dobson, Miriam. “Intersectionality: A Fun Guide.” https://miriamdobson.com/2013/04/24/intersectionality-a-fun-guide/
Granzka, P. 2014. Intersectionality: A Foundation and Frontiers Reader. Westview.
Guidroz, K. and M.T. Berger. 2009. “A Conversation with Founding Scholars of Intersectionality: Kimberlé Crenshaw, Nira Yuval-Davis, and Michelle Fine. Pp. 61-78 in Berger and Guidroz, eds., The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy through Race, Class, and Gender. University of North Carolina Press.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2016. Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. Oxford University Press.
May, Vivian. 2015. Pursuing Intersectionality: Unsettling Dominant Imaginaries. Routledge.
Teaching Tolerance 101:
Intersectionality and Supreme Pizza:
This podcast focuses on intersectional pedagogies, and what the consideration of multiple socially-constructed identities and social locations bring to the learning journey. The conversation is with two leaders in the field, Profs. Kim Case and Desdamona Rios of the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Issues of privilege, power, and social justice are all made clearer in the intersections.
Intersectionality is “a complex analysis of both privileged and oppressed social identities that simultaneously interact to create systemic inequities, and therefore lived experiences of prejudice and discrimination, privilege, and opportunities, and perspectives from particular social locations” (Case, Intersectional Pedagogy).
Kim A. Case, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) and director of the Applied Social Issues graduate degree. Prof. Case teaches courses She has won multiple teaching and service awards. Her two co-edited books, Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom (Routledge, 2013) and Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice (Routledge, 2017), bring intersectional theories into pedagogical practices. Kim shows us the practical implications and transformative possibilities of prioritizing intersectional issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and the rest in the college classroom.
Desdamona Rios, Ph.D. is associate professor of Psychology at UHCL. She has a joint doctorate in Women’s Studies and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Her research focus is on narrative identities and promise for Latinx American high school students and LGBTQ college students. Prof. Rios has articles in both of Kim’s edited books; in Deconstructing Privilege: “Recognizing Privilege by Reducing Invisibility: The Global Feminisms Project as a Pedagogical Tool” (with Abigail J. Stewart). In Intersectional Pedagogy she has co-written two articles: “Decentering Student ‘Uniqueness’ in Lessons about Intersectionality” (with M. Bowling and J. Harris) and “Infusing Intersectionality: Complicating the Psychology of Women Course.”
I’ve invited both scholar-activists to guide us through the complicated and vital issues of intersectional theories and practices in the classroom. They discuss issues of student-centered learning environments, the importance of self care, taking risks in the classroom, the current political moment, and social action.
Chris Crass’ website has the list of his publications and other resources in popular education and organizing:
In this second part of the podcast Profs. Westfield and Lockhart-Gilroy go deeper in their discussion of embodied teaching and learning, utilizing womanist epistemologies. Critical race theory provides a framework for understanding the dynamics of race in the classroom. They describe their classrooms as multisensory—honoring the whole selves in the space to make places for the imagination, and the creative mind and body. They leave us with an exploration of what a truly revolutionary womanist pedagogy entails.
The music for part 2 is from “Prayer for Syria” by Paul Myhre, associate director of the Wabash Center for Teaching Theology and Religious Studies. You can find his music at https://www.reverbnation.com/paulomyhre
Womanist pedagogies is a way of teaching that connects stories and bodies and lived experience in the classroom. In part one of this podcast, I talk with Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield and Dr. Annie Lockhart-Gilroy of Drew University Theology School about the origins of womanist pedagogies—the forebearers and the definition—and the practices in the classroom. Scholars in multiple academic disciplines adopt the term “womanist” from Alice Walker’s definition in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. The focus of the discussion here is in religious education and theological studies. The discussion centers around the “wisdom-speak of the wisdom-kin,” the necessity of kitchen table conversations and the spaces of the ordinary, and the audacity of naming oneself.
Dr. Annie Lockhart-Gilroy (left) is Assistant Professor of Christian Education and a Louisville Post-Doctoral Fellow at Drew Theology School. She teaches classes in Christian Education and Practical Theology. Her forthcoming book is entitled, Transforming Cities: Nurturing the Sanctified Imagination of Urban Youth.
Dr. Nancy Lynne Westfield (right) is Professor of Religious Education and director of the Public Theology Initiative at Drew University Theology School in Madison, N.J. She is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, a frequent contributor to HuffPost, and a blogger for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. She speaks first on the podcast.
The theme music for part 1 is written by Aviva and the Flying Penguins and performed by Aviva and Lance Erik Haugan. You can find more of Lance’s music at https://soundcloud.com/lance-haugan. Additional interstices music is from “Prayer for Syria” by Paul Myhre, associate director of the Wabash Center for Teaching Theology and Religious Studies. His music is available at https://www.reverbnation.com/paulomyhre/
In Part Two of our conversation Chris Crass talks about what activist/popular education and movement building mean for higher education. Chris is a co-founder of the Catalyst Project: Anti-Racism for Collective Liberation (https://collectiveliberation.org/) that offers political education and organizing support. He also discusses his commitment to dismantling patriarchy and misogyny (see his essay: http://thefeministwire.com/2013/06/against-patriarchy-tools-for-men-to-further-feminist-revolution/). Systemic change brings personal transformation. In these times of attacks on equity and racial justice, Chris discusses how to find hope in resilience and resistance. First step: to educate ourselves and show up for racial and gender justice. Chris reminds us: We are the 99%.
Activist, organizer, writer and social change agent Chris Crass (http://www.chriscrass.org/) is committed to the long haul of justice work. In Part One of our conversation, Chris talks about his background, the many movement building mentors and the collective liberation of oppressed groups. He is the author of two books, Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy (PM Press, 2013) and Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter (Chalice Press, 2015). In his anti-racist work he begins with the historical and structural definition of racism from The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (http://pisab.org/): racism is individual race prejudice plus structural/institutional power. Chris works to build dynamic multiracial alliances, with an intersectional framework—“working class-based, feminist, multiracial movements for collective liberation.”