Since the start of the twentieth century, Christian religion scholars from the dominant culture – specifically ethicists – shifted their focus on how to live the Christian life via praxis toward the nature of ethics, wrestling more with abstract questions concerned with what is the common good and/or which virtues to cultivate. An attempt is made to understand the world, but lacking the ability to differentiate within disenfranchised communities between a “blink and a wink,” à la Geertz, their final analysis lacks gravitas. Teaching religion has become a process which [de]liberates not liberates. While abstract deliberations at times might prove sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed, the first casualty of abstract thought is rigorous academic discussions concerned with how to construct a more just social structure based on faith claims.
The 20th century has been defined by the rise of the U.S. Empire. President Theodore Roosevelt introduced “gun boat diplomacy” and “speaking softly but carrying a big stick,” policies which laid the foundation for the development of today’s multinational corporations. Roosevelt’s foreign policy described how the full force of the U.S. military, specifically the marines, were at the disposal of U.S. corporations, specifically the United Fruit Company, to protect business interests.
I am deeply angry, upset, frustrated and irritated with the aggregated list you all compiled of “dangerous professors” with “radical agendas.” Specifically, what deeply disturbs me about your list is that my name does not appear. I’m feeling left out, as if all of my hard work is being ignored. Really, am I not that dangerous for you? Is my agenda not that radical? Where is the love (or in your case should I say, the “hate”)?
I would consider it a badge of honor to be on your list, so please accept this letter as my application. Dangerous professors are those who challenge their students to think, forcing them to move beyond pristine bubbles toward uncomfortable spaces where they examine their complicity with oppressive structures grounded in racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism. These profs are dangerous because they challenge students to move beyond ideology, doctrines and truth claims, toward critical thinking. Critical thinkers are dangerous because they cannot be easily manipulated by politicians who use fear of the Other to garner votes, as recently demonstrated.
They are dancing in the streets of Miami. The man who has impacted the trajectory of my entire life is no more. And yet, his power over my life, and all Cubans who find themselves in a land not their own will continue to have a strong grip. Maybe it’s too early for merrymaking. Maybe we are giving too much credit to an individual.
Hatred has won. Violence is the new means of communication. We have gone from a political correctness which masked racism and ethnic discrimination to a full blown demonstration of revenge for the years in which people of color strived to hold this country accountable for concepts like equality, justice and respect for diversity. Rather than focus upward toward the 1 percent responsible for the growing wealth gap which benefits them, white America (and come on, I’m speaking about ontological whiteness and not skin pigmentation as I know several black and Latinx folk who are white) believed their representatives that the real threat was those historically disenfranchised. Make America great again became code language for suppressing the advancement and votes of nonwhites in the belief that white supremacy would lead to greater privilege.
As I look at the clock I notice it is a little passed three in the morning on the day after the election and I am hopeless. In the midst of deep desperation, I metaphorically turn to paper and ink to make sense of a nation drunk with xenophobic madness. For years I have written of my hopelessness with institutional racism and ethnic discrimination masked by our society as my liberal friends instead spoke about a post-racial America because they voted for a black man. Tonight, that mask was ripped off to reveal, especially to communities of color, the true face of this country, and I am terrified — terrified of what I see, terrified for my economic and physical safety and that of my children.