Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why does it matter?

A year ago, as a member of my employer's Diversity Council for the local site, I was invited to represent the company at the annual Martin Luther King Jr Unity Breakfast, an event that has been held for the past 30 years. It is sponsored by the Delta Theta Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

One of the honorees last year was Rev. Kerry Holder-Joffrion, and as I recall her work involved restorative justice, in which attempts are made to heal relations by developing a mutually agreed-to understanding of the shared history.

I'm not trained in pastoral care.  My experiences with social-justice minded Catholics, Unitarian Universalists, and the United Church of Christ have educated me on moderating small groups, non-violent communication, and conducting difficult conversations, and Global Negotiations taught me integrative negotiation.

The other thing I have to offer, is an understanding of history borne out of my M.A. in Humanities, focused on Space and Exploration Studies.  While I was most interested in the "looking forward to Space" aspect of the degree program... we cannot see where we are going until we know where we have been. Until we truly understand what this world has inherited from our history of exploration.

I have a basic understanding of my family history. I'm not ready to publish my thoughts on them yet. The post will begin with a paragraph of trigger warnings, and information about the intended audience. Since I will give an idea in the next paragraph, consider yourself warned.

From the Mayflower, to my great-great-grandfather's Kentucky farm, to a great-grandfather's immigration from Germany... and even, today, with a bevy of cousins. There are things in that history, connections...  that I think need to be spoken at some point, to be heard by my fellow white Americans.

That post is not today. It may not even happen this week.

The things that unwritten post AND my education on history bring to mind, however, is just how critical AP History is, not only to Oklahoma, but to every school in the U.S. Willful ignorance of history is at least as harmful as willful ignorance of world religions in context.

If you live in the North Alabama area, and are interested in supporting community in these areas, I encourage you to be in touch with the City of Huntsville's Office of Multicultural Affairs and Interfaith Mission Service.