2017 Session 9

Civil and Human Rights Education – Panel

  • “Civil Rights Education ‘Out in the Sticks’”, Heidi Huse (University of Tennessee-Martin)

I propose a presentation that hopefully integrates well into a peace education panel. I will discuss the complexities of teaching civil rights & social justice advocacy at a small, rural state university in a conservative Southern state. A nexus of campus and community identities and events renders our setting rather insular and disinclined toward peace education. (No peace major, minor, or certification is offered at my institution.)

First, we are an ROTC regional hub; our institutional Web site readily identifies us as a “Military Advanced Education TOP” higher education institution. Conservative notions of patriotism run strong and can include anti-Muslim sentiment and expression on campus and in the surrounding community.

Second, our Civil Rights Conference distinguishes us as one of two universities commemorating the civil rights movement annually (our 2015 keynote speaker was Reverend Dr. Barber). However, this year, our theme was “Social Justice in the Age of Black Lives Matter” and we faced extensive public criticism for supporting a ‘domestic terrorist organization.’ When weeks later, our Black Student Association, supported by the Civil Rights Conference planning committee, hosted a “’Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt Day” (students sold BLM t-shirts to white students and encouraged them to join the BSA for a peaceful rally), campus administration strongly criticized the event, after additional public outcry.

Further, ours is a strongly pro-gun state that recently enacted campus concealed-carry for registered faculty/staff at all state higher education institutions. We are located in a region where our state legislative representative is committed to legislating student concealed carry in all buildings on campuses statewide.

Finally, our state legislature regularly pursues anti-LGBTQ legislation, successfully signing into law just this May a bill requiring language of state codes to be interpreted by its “natural and ordinary” meaning (Conservative anti-LGBTQ organizations supported the bill as a way to prevent giving LGBTQ marriage equal legal status).

I will discuss my own efforts to offer writing courses that counter this culture in the civil/human rights reading and writing I assign. I will place my teaching into the context of my own ironic civil rights education, since I have learned more about the U.S. civil rights movement in my current academic setting than I ever learned through my own public and higher education. My lack of awareness of American history for so much of my life informs both my teaching and my hopes for what students gain from our progress together through assigned reading and writing.

I hope to generate discussion among my fellow teachers regarding civil/human rights education, which is particularly crucial in our current politically and culturally divisive society. I hope to incorporate pedagogical and rhetorical theories on “rhetorical listening” that I am currently studying, as I believe they may offer productive input on how to adequately challenge students to greater awareness and critical, self-reflective thinking while avoiding enacting my own violence on those students by inadvertently enforcing my standpoints and understandings on them.

  • “Human Rights Education: Whose Epistemologies? Whose Ontologies?”, Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams (Gettysburg College)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, a time when colonialism–despite its end looming on the horizon–was still raging on across the world. This document has become that which many marginalized and oppressed peoples subscribe to when they have been denied basic dignities. Since the 1948 adoption however, there were two major but separate covenants that mirrored the Cold War antagonisms of civil and political rights versus cultural and economic rights. These schisms still color human rights discourses and practices. The PJSA 2017 conference theme is meant to foster discussions around a movement from Civil Rights to Human Rights. My presentation is meant to question the epistemological underpinnings of the predominant, globalized conceptualizations of human rights and how those may influence and shape particular types of human rights ontologies. As we widen the discursive parameters around human rights so that civil rights is subsumed within, of these re-conceptualizations, I ask: what is trafficked? By whom and in which directions? Are the globalized flows of human rights discourses and infrastructure bi-or multi-directional,  engendering culturally hybridized formations that then challenge hegemonic discourses?

In this presentation, I will trace the rise of modern human rights discourse and the attendant formations around human rights education. I will document how the Civil rights movement was curtailed in the US when it advocates and activists tried to hitch it to wider human rights discourses. I will then promulgate the need for a critical human rights education, one that is broad-based, but one that is also evaluable, and sufficiently adaptable and customizable to cultural particularities. This presentation is a call for the decolonization of human rights discourses, their epistemic assumptions and their ontological discontents. It is a call for more South-South collaboration around human rights and human rights education/training, while still tending to the pressing need for a global citizenship and planetary stewardship in the face of looming existential threats such as climate change.

  • “‘You don’t want crabs or herpes: Vaccines cure that.’: Sexual Health Education Access as a Human Rights Issue”, Martina (Tina) Thomas (Juniata College)

This presentation will highlight anthropological, ethnographic insights of sexual health risk knowledge and behavior among African American female youth living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In an especially pivotal political moment where women of color are threatened in the area of healthcare access, it is integral to reveal what is understood about sexual health among these young women and whether these beliefs line up with biomedical understandings. In this way, gaps in knowledge can be addressed through both formal and informal educational pathways. The qualitative and quantitative data that will be described was collected from 2014 to 2015. These results explain constraints to these young women’s health in relation to their lived experiences and the lack of sexual health education they receive in a conservative Bible Belt state. This heightening risk is due to inaccuracy of information received via informal social networks (e.g. friends), the stigma associated with discussion of sexual health issues among family members and the church, and the sometimes-dangerous predicaments to which these young women are exposed. I frame the analysis of these results, including a lack of sexual education altogether or inaccurate education, as a social justice issue that ought to be understood as impinging on the human rights of these young women. Along with a review of the data collected and the observations made in a predominantly African American community and high school, potential solutions will be presented to these important sexual health issues that consider the diversity of social ecologies in which these young women are involved.

Exploring the Intersubjective, Democratic Paradigm of Justice, Peace Building, and Education – Panel

Renee Gainer, Dale Snauwaert (University of Toledo), Janet Gerson (International Institute on Peace Education), Jeff Warnke (Bowling Green State University)

It is well established that justice is the defining condition of peace. In the history of normative reflection on justice there has been a series of paradigm shifts from:

a)      metaphysically and religiously grounded conceptions of justice exemplified in the natural law tradition as well as various traditions of moral theologies to

b)      subjectively grounded conceptions of justice, the paradigm of the philosophy of consciousness, which constructs principles of justice out of subject states of affairs or the structure of practical reason exemplified in Kant and Utilitarianism to

c)      intersubjective, democratic conceptions of justice, which grounds justice in the communicative process of reaching mutual understanding and agreement through the public use of reason, exemplified in the work of Rawls, Habermas, Sen, Scanlon, Nussbaum, Arendt, Walzer, among others. (Note: Although this sequence of paradigm shifts flows historically, all of the paradigms of justice are still held by various scholars and citizens.)

Central to the intersubjective, democratic paradigm of justice is the idea and problem of justification and legitimation. Shifting from metaphysical and subjective paradigms the panel will explore the intersubjective, democratic paradigm of justice; in particular, how and in what ways justification through the public use of reason and legitimation is theorized and in what ways that theory can shape conceptions of justice-based peace building and education. The panel will present and engage participants in discourse concerning the elements of the intersubjective paradigm of justice and its numerous implications for communication, deliberation, and argumentation in the processes of peace building and how and in what ways the philosophical process of reconstruction inherent in the intersubjective paradigm can be employed in educational methodologies for teaching peace and justice.

Challenging Militarism and Resisting War – Panel

  • “Police Militarization in the Era of Urban Areas Security Initiative”, Maya Florence Adelman Cabral (independent scholar)

This paper explores police militarization in the United States by examining the Urban Shield program, an emergency-preparedness training developed in 2007 in California by Alameda County Assistant Sheriff James Baker. The training falls under the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (BAUASI) which is part of a grant disbursement under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). Both the Bay Area UASI and Urban Shield’s stated goals are to assess and improve capacity to respond and recover from natural or human-caused catastrophes, such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes, in dense urban areas.

Supporters of the Urban Shield program argue that the training is crucial as it allows first-responders to be properly trained and prepared on the job. Additionally, proponents of the program argue that it protects the safety of first-responders in dangerous scenarios, human-made or otherwise. Critics of the program argue that Urban Shield’s trainings often feature people of color and therefore are racist and xenophobic, creating communities in which people of color (most notably Muslim Americans and Black Americans) feel unsafe. Critics also argue that the Urban Shield’s technology exposition features automatic weaponry made for physical combat and war, and that because of this Urban Shield prepares police forces in the U.S. to visualize, prepare for, and perpetuate war against its own Citizenry.

This paper analyzes the first-responder reported benefits of participating as well as community-reported detriments of first responders participating in the Urban Shield program, and frames this analysis within the greater contemporary debate of whether or not police forces are infringing upon the civil rights of Americans. This paper also analyzes the foreign impact Urban Shield has had, most importantly the participation in the training by police and counter-terrorism task forces from Israel and Bahrain, two nations with militarized police forces accused of violating human rights. Finally, this paper deconstructs the concepts that lie underneath the Urban Areas Security Initiatives (such as terrorism), and argues that the need for safety and security is a core value of both proponents and opponents to the Urban Shield program. Still, this need for safety is usurped by the fact that the Urban Shield program exists firstly to control urban populations, particular those made up of people of color.

Ultimately, I argue that the Urban Shield program does not meet needs for community safety and security, and that because of the racialized and religious nature of its test scenarios the Urban Shield training program perpetuates American institutions of racism and xenophobia. The purpose of this paper and presentation is to explore the increasing militarization of police and first-responders within the framework of critical race theory and nonviolence. Specifically, the paper argues that it is impossible to meet the needs of safety and security within a community by a) equipping first-responders with high-grade military and arms technology and by b) only training and equipping a small portion of its population (first-responders). Ultimately, I offer community-based alternatives to meet the stated goals of UASI and the Urban Shield program.

  • “The Korean Crisis: Towards a Paradigm Shift in U.S. Policy”, Jonah S Adelman Cabral (Knox College)

My paper focuses on peace-building and denuclearization in contemporary times by examining the current geopolitical conflict on the Korean Peninsula. This nuclear showdown is one of the greatest threats to peace-building efforts in contemporary times due to the powerful nuclear weapons that lie at the heart of the conflict. As the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has solidified its nuclear capabilities over the past 25 years, an alarmed United States (U.S) has shifted from conciliatory to hostile approaches. These include a) Jimmy Carter’s 1993 negotiation of a nuclear freeze with Kim il-Sung in exchange for energy assistance for the resource-starved nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, b) the food assistance deal negotiated by Secretary of State Rice in the waning years of the George W. Bush administration, and c) the use of fiery rhetoric and implementation of punishing sanctions under the Obama Administration.

Each U.S. approach has failed to slow the DPRK’s march toward nuclearization for two reasons. First, contemporary China, even having undergone a profound capitalistic transformation, continues to support the DPRK because major powers, including the U.S. and Russia, continue to view the world in a Cold War-era framework of East versus West. Second, and more importantly, China wishes to instill itself as a major global power and does not want to give up any spheres of political influence or allow a unified Korean peninsula under a West-aligned government. Finally, the lack of a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War has kept the entire region on constant edge, and the continued presence of U.S. troops in South Korea specifically alarms the DPRK and China.

The purpose of this paper is to emphasize that the U.S. needs to recognize and respect China’s power and cooperate in good faith to in turn convince China that a non-nuclear, modern Korea benefits the whole world, rather than just the West. This argument lies within the framework of democratic peace theory, which dictates that democratic countries are naturally disinclined to be in conflict with one another. As such, because the U.S. does not view and treat China as a democracy, and certainly does not view the DPRK in any other light than as a human-rights abusing dictatorship, the U.S. is not truly pursuing de-escalating and ultimately peace-building efforts.

The crux of my argument is therefore that both a rogue and nuclearized DPRK is a great threat to human health, security, and peace. The DPRK can be either rogue or nuclearized, but not both. Solving this pressing issue is of enormous benefit to China, the United States, the Pacific region, and indeed to the world. Once the United States shows acceptance of, and in some sense acquiescence to China’s economic and military rise (such as the Sino takeover of the South China Sea, or increased Chinese economic influence with traditional U.S. Pacific allies, such as the Philippines and even South Korea), China will display real disapproval of the DPRK’s rush towards nuclearized weaponry. The alternative — of a rogue state, with no true allies, having nuclear first-strike capabilities — is untenable for all. The United States’ goal should be true multilateralism with Cold War rivals as China holds the key to the defuse this contemporary nuclear weapons crisis.

  • “Human Rights Violations in the Streets and in the Social Media: Police Violence in El Salvador”, Sonja Wolf (Drug Policy Programme at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) Región Centro in Aguascalientes, Mexico)

This session discusses cases of police violence in different geographical contexts, as well as the structural factors that facilitate police brutality.

  • “War Resisters and the Civil Rights Actions in the 1940s”, Yuichi Moroi (Meiji University)

This paper examines the connection between war resistance and the civil rights actions of the 1940s. War resisters during WWII—those conscientious objectors who were imprisoned because of their violation of the draft law—engaged in numerous direct actions for desegregation inside and outside of the prison: From prison strikes to dine-ins, swim-ins, skate-ins, etc. in public facilities in the North, and to the Journey of Reconciliation in the upper South. Focusing on their tactics of nonviolence and disobedience, this paper explores the subjective meanings war resisters attached to their actions. Key questions are: How did they interpret the situations and act upon them? How did they form their conviction and sense of responsibility—strong enough to defy and disobey the social norms and conventions of the day? Sources consulted are archival materials and published and unpublished works by the war resisters and secondary literature. The paper will argue that there is a unique combination of conviction and a sense of civic responsibility among war resisters, which would continue into the antiwar and the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

  • “US Militarism, War Crimes and the Ethics of University-Based Military Training (ROTC)”, John Lawrence (College of Staten Island, CUNY)

Following the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy which banned openly gay people from serving in the US Armed Forces, there has been an organized effort to reinstitute the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at some universities including the City University of New York (CUNY) where the program had been disbanded during the Vietnam War. With a few exceptions, universities have embraced reconstituting ROTC programs. The principle arguments for ROTC on campuses have been that the program not only gives students the “opportunity to serve” in the Armed Forces but also enables the US military to diversify its officer corps racially, ethnically and geographically. Some faculty committees commissioned to review ROTC policy at universities have dismissed the ethical and human rights concerns regarding hosting US military training on university campuses as being anachronistic or issues to be taken up by political institutions such as the US Congress – not university communities.

In this paper I review the arguments for and against ROTC programs and assert that universities should not participate in US military training programs. To do so makes a university complicit in the US military’s systemic mass violence and normalizes it by integrating the military into the fabric of education. It violates the university’s responsibility to protect the well-being of its students and the university’s mission to further the public good. In addition, I discuss the activism at CUNY to oppose the reconstitution of ROTC which has been successful on some campuses but not others.

The primary reasons to oppose military training in universities are as follows. First, the most fundamental purpose of the US military is not national defense but to project US power. The US has been in a perpetual series of wars for hegemony which have been disastrous for the targeted populations and undermined the security of US citizens by increasing the likelihood of nuclear war and terrorism. Second, though politicians often rhetorically honor soldiers and veterans, the state’s actual treatment of soldiers and veterans has often been neglectful and sometimes abhorrent. Examples of this neglect include exposing soldiers to environmental toxins, providing soldiers and veterans with inadequate healthcare and institutionally enabling a high incidence of sexual assault and harassment. Third, the social, physical and emotional consequences of participating in war for many US veterans and their families are substantial. Many veterans’ life-time opportunities are limited by their injuries which challenges the resources of their caregivers. Fourth, informed consent, the ethical cornerstone of scientific research on university campuses, is ignored in the context of military recruitment. US military recruitment is a multi-billion dollar sales campaign with no commitment to truth in advertising. Fifth, in the ROTC, academic freedom is impossible due to the institutional demand of the US military.

In his Beyond Vietnam speech, Martin Luther King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” If King’s assertion continues to be true today, a university’s decision to participate in ROTC is of the utmost ethical importance.

Priorities in building meaningful peace – Panel

Mark Lance (Professor, Georgetown University), Wim Laven (Graduate Student, Kennesaw State University), Damon Lynch (Graduate Student, University of Minnesota), Alison Castel (Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder)

How do we best go about building a meaningful peace? Truth, justice, and mercy have long been recognized as different but interdependent—and indispensable to peace. Indeed, to envision peace without any one of them is to invite negativism, impunity, and recurrent violence. Moreover, if justice without mercy can be cruel, then peace without justice is a façade, making a mockery of reconciliation. Whether conflict transformation and peacebuilding processes are imposed on violence-torn societies from without, or emerge organically from within, to build interdependent relationships in the midst of social hierarchy and power differentials—that is, to reconcile the estranged, the victimized and the perpetrators—these processes must advance truth, justice, and mercy.

Since reconciliation processes do not exist independently of power relations and social hierarchy, when they lack truth and justice their implementation can lead not to just peace, but to pacification and continued oppression. At the same time, a struggle for justice that focuses solely on institutional factors can ignore the kinds of reconciliation that are crucial to lasting positive peace.

Is there some priority in these dimensions of positive peace? Should we generally frame our struggles, for example, as first recognizing truth, then building for justice, and finally moving to reconciliation? Or do we pursue all at the same time, or in some other order? What are some of the key ethical, strategic, and other challenges in thinking through these issues?

Theories and Histories of Peace – Panel

  • “A Holistic, Integrative View of Peace for the 21st Century, Based on Holistic, Evolving Aspects of Peace & Nonviolence”, Linda Groff (Director, Global Options and Evolutionary Futures Consulting)

Presentation will examine seven evolving aspects of peace–as visions & goals for society and the world, and over ten methods of nonviolent social-political change, that have emerged within the Peace Studies Field since WWII, which collectively lead towards a holistic, integrative view of peace for the 21st century. Also how Western, Eastern, and Indigenous cultures each contribute different, important aspects of peace that make up this integrative view of peace.

  • “Killing as Trauma: The Promise and Problems of “Moral Injury”, Rachel MacNair (Director, Institute for Integrated Social Analysis)

The concept of “moral injury” is becoming prominent in the psychological literature of the military and for police. It has some value in treatment of combat veterans, but it also has severe shortcomings. This could be expected from Veterans Administration therapists who are sympathetic to military Philosophy.

“Moral Injury” is defined as: “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. . . . The individual also must be (or become aware of) the discrepancy between his or her morals and the experience . . . causing dissonance and inner conflict” (Litz, et al., 2009, p. 696).

While perpetrating is the first item on the list, the list includes other items, so this definition expands beyond what Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS) covers. PITS is the form of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder symptoms that come from an act of killing or other horrific violence as the stressor (MacNair, 2002). Yet Moral Injury requires awareness of transgression. For PITS, the act alone is sufficient.

This is an important distinction, because most acts of violence and all acts of socially-approved violence (such as combat and executions) are regarded as justified by those who commit them. Yet they can still be traumatizing.

If only those combat veterans who feel they have suffered moral injury receive therapeutic care, and post-trauma symptoms from acts of killing regarded as justified go unacknowledged, the conceptual frameworks might be inadequate for meeting patient Needs.

This is important for future violence prevention, since the PTSD symptoms of emotional numbing, a sense of detachment or estrangement from others, or outbursts of rage can lead to future violence — in the soldier’s family, in street crime, and in the soldiers expected return to combat. Post-war reconciliation efforts need to be aware of the full range of symptoms for post-combatants, and not be restricted to the military’s concept of “moral injury.”

  • “Ethical Issues from Multiple Perspectives”, Linda M. Johnston (Kennesaw State University)

This presentation will discuss this new approach to studying ethical issues. The Siegel Institute Ethics Research Scholars (SIERS) is a multi-disciplinary research cohort comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff completing original research projects under the common umbrella topic of the ethics over the course of a year. The individual participant chooses a potential project and they are solely responsible for carrying out the research. Finalized projects are published in the SIERS on-line Journal. The SIERS program in now starting their fourth cohort. Research themes have included clothing, physical embodiment, food, and housing. The SIERS program offers a multi-disciplinary approach to researching an ethical topic. Research topics are global in scope. Information on setting up similar programs will be discussed.

Advocacy in a University Setting – Roundtable

Madison W. Silverstein (Auburn University)

Universities are ideal locales for grassroots advocacy (e.g., Bryant, 1999) due to the availability of financial resources (e.g., University of Michigan, 2016), centralized organizing capabilities (e.g., alumni networks [Weerts et al., 2011]), and the ease at which a broad range of individuals can be connected (e.g., students, administrators, faculty members [D’Andrea & Daniels, 2007]). In fact, research indicates that including advocacy in curricula increases students’ sense of social justice responsibility (Banack et al., 2011; Gazarian et al., 2014). However, there are barriers to advocacy at universities, such as institutional racism (D’Andrea & Daniels, 2007), fear of institutional consequences (Bemack & Chung, 2005; Harrison, 2010), and lack of advocacy training programs (Bemack & Chung, 2005). Further, it is often the case that university politics overshadow advocacy goals and progress (Doyle, 2015; Vazquez, 2010). The present discussion will focus on strategies for implementing training, education, advocacy, and action around social justice issues, at both the graduate program and university levels. Participants will share past experiences of successes and difficulties advocating for social justice in their programs and universities and will leave with the beginnings of an advocacy action plan.

From Non-Violent Opposition to Constructive Resilience – Roundtable

Michael Karlberg (Western Washington University)

Non-violent resistance and civil disobedience have been important and relatively effective strategies in the pursuit of peace and justice over the past century. However, these strategies may be reaching a point of diminishing because they can reinforce the hegemony of normative adversarialism – the us-versus-them mentality that lies at the roots war and injustice. In addition, strategies of non-violent opposition are being countered with increasingly sophisticated strategies of non-violent oppression. Therefore, it is time to expand our repertoire of strategies for radical social change.

This roundtable discussion will begin with a brief overview of the problem of normative adversarialism, including the flawed conceptions of human nature and society that inform it. (1) This will be followed by a brief introduction of the non-adversarial strategy of constructive resilience, with an illustration of its successful application by the violently persecuted Bahá’í community in Iran. (2) Roundtable participants will then be invited to explore the possibility of an expanding program of research and activism focused on radical, but non-adversarial, struggles for peace and justice that derive insight from the model of constructive resilience.

(1) For discussions of this theme, refer to Gordon Fellman (1998) Rambo and the Dalai Lama: The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival (New York: SUNY Press); Michael Karlberg (2003) The Paradox of Protest in a Culture of Contest, Peace & Change 28 (3) 319-347; Michael Karlberg (2004) Beyond the Culture of Contest: From Adversarialism to Mutualism in an Age of Interdependence (Oxford: George Ronald). (2) Michael Karlberg (2010) Constructive Resilience: The Baha’i Response to Oppression, Peace & Change 35 (2), 222-257.

Targets of Hate: Hijab (Muslim Woman headscarf) the most visible symbol for Hatred – Roundtable

Khaula Hadeed (Council on American-Islamic Relations)

In 2016, CAIR recorded a 57% increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents over 2015. This was accompanied by a 44% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period. From 2014 to 2016, anti-Muslim bias incidents jumped 65 percent. In that two-year period, CAIR finds that hate crimes targeting Muslims surged 584 percent. Bias related to Islamophobia continues its trend toward increasing violence.

The most prevalent trigger of an anti-Muslim bias incident in 2016 was the victim’s ethnicity or national origin. The next most prevalent trigger was a woman wearing a headscarf or hijab. For Muslim women, covering or wearing a headscarf is very personal and is a diverse social and religious practice within Muslim communities.

An important point to note is that American Muslim women donning a headscarf or a hijab are themselves a minority within the American Muslim population.

A prevalent stereotype about Muslim women who wear the hijab is that they are ‘oppressed’ and do not have volition or choices. The next rational question that follows is why the presumptive ‘oppressed’ group becomes the target of violent hatred and bias by the larger population. The underlying assumption of course in this case is that individuals have the innate urge to protect the unprotected. It is therefore important to identify and understand the net drivers of hate-incidents against hijab wearing women and acknowledge that these actions emanate from complex and many times false narratives that may or may not have anything to do with the perception that the victims of such incidents are actually oppressed.

Our presentation will attempt to raise questions about possible drivers of bias against hijab-clad Muslim women and the perception that wearing of the hijab symbolizes oppression of these women. Moreover, we will explore the possibility that these bias incidents against women wearing the hijab actually point to deeper, conflicting, and systemic issues within the larger community that allow the perpetrator to target for hate, those that they deem to already be oppressed. The discussion will try to confront the implication in the title, “Symbols of Hate”, that Muslim woman’s hijab appears to increasingly symbolize hatred itself, inducing fear and justified violence. We’ll see that in today’s experience similar head-coverings, (religious or otherwise) would not incur the same wrath. We attempt to uncover the implication whether the west has cast Muslim-woman’s hijab in the same category as other symbols of hatred, e.g. swastika, due to Islamophobia.

Stepping Across the Threshold: Learning to Say Black Lives Matter – Workshop

Judy Hand-Truitt  (The Threshold Project), Nichole Lariscy (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

This workshop is about The Threshold Project, which is to be an on-line collection of personal stories called Stepping Across the Threshold: Learning to Say Black Lives Matter.

The project is an effort to encourage people, mainly white people, who have taken some sort of stand against racism to write about why they do so. We particularly invite white people because we are the least represented element in the coalition necessary to move toward racial and economic justice in our nation. The idea is for the stories to touch other whites who are re-evaluating their thinking in regard to race and racial justice, and who could use inspiration, modeling and encouragement to act.

We seek, by publishing these stories, to encourage whites to “come out” as who we really are — people who love justice, who want this country to be what it is supposed to be, and who will no longer tolerate having it assumed that we have nothing to say when others are deprived of basic human rights.

Stories from people of color are essential, invited, and encouraged as well, and will be used.

Written stories should touch on these points (when applicable):

• how you moved from point a to point b in your thinking about the issue of race

• what it cost you to take action for racial justice

• what you gained in doing so, how you changed as a person

As we write our stories, we are aware of the lure of self-congratulation, and keep in mind that we have not arrived at a destination; we are merely on a journey in which we invite others to join us. We work in support of and in consultation with Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter.

Resources that have been used in preparation for the project include

• The United Church of Christ curriculum, White Privilege: Let’s Talk, especially Part One: The Spiritual Autobiography Told Through the Lens of Race

• But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative, by Fred Hobson

• The Wall Between, by Anne Braden

The form of the workshop will be:

• 10 minute presentation by Birmingham native Judy Hand-Truitt on the idea and reason for the project, and a little of her own experience and story, with references to the resources mentioned above.

• 45 minute story circle conducted by Nichole Lariscy, UAB professor of English and Whiteness Studies and experienced story developer. Giving a short evocative topic along with guidelines for participation, Nichole will engage the participants in starting the process of sharing their own story, with an eye to the possibility of their having a story published in The Threshold Project. In attendance and assisting will be other Birmingham activists who are helping launch the project.

• 5 minutes on how to participate in the project and on opportunities for organizational participation in racial justice work in Birmingham.

“A Bold Peace: Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization” – Film

Matthew Eddy

A Bold Peace documents the little-known story of how, almost 70 years ago, Costa Rica abolished their military and created free health care, free universities and a wide middle class while pioneering a new model of national security. (HSC Alumni Theater)​