Sunday, April 28, 2019

Who Are the Terrorists?

My heart goes out to the victims of the synagogue shooting in San Diego and all those traumatized by this horrific event. As in Pittsburgh six months ago, the shooter was a white supremacist.
In the light of this, it is very hard for me to keep calm in the face of those who say undocumented immigrants and refugees are bringing crime and terrorism to the United States
Just ask yourself the question. How many shootings in synagogues, churches and mosques in the US, and how many Black churches burned, can be placed at the feet of undocumented immigrants? If the answer is zero, the focus inevitably turns to the very group that is arguing that immigrants are destroying the country.
If you look at our history, the vast majority of the anti-Semitic violence in this country, along with most of its racial and xenophobic violence, has been the product of white supremacists and those obsessed with preserving "the purity of the white race."
The very people trying to close our borders are the ones who pose the greatest danger.
Terrorism is not primarily a threat from abroad, it is a domestic phenomenon with roots deep in our history

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Big Issues in An Increasingly Unequal Society

In the last two years, here are the issues which people have come me to discuss in hope of finding solutions and sparking action
***Adjunct faculty at universities being exploited and forced to live below the poverty line.
***Immigrants being harassed and attacked, not only by ICE, but by police and random people in streets and stores
***Friends dying of heroin overdoses, in places ranging from upstate New York to Ohio to Staten Island
***Public housing being privatized and gentrification raising rents beyond people's capacity to pay
***Testing and computerized learning making schools a hell for students and teachers alike
***Racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia creating fear among people of color and vulnerable groups.
***Rising co pays and deductibles forcing people to impoverish themselves to get medical care
*** Total inaction on Climate Change even as storms do unprecedented damage in coastal and inland regions
The consensus of those who have come to me is that large number of people are being pushed to the wall while a small number of people get rich
Some people think it is time for an Uprising-- strikes, boycotts, occupations, to spark the implementation of policies which raise wages, lower rents, protect vulnerable groups from harassment, take dramatic action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and make schools places where creativity and relationship building are welcome.
NOTE: Of the seven issues identified, only three can be placed primarily at the feet of the Trump Administration

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

When Grace Enters A Classroom: Thoughts on Daryl McDaniel's Visit to My Rock and Roll to Hip Hop Class

When Daryl Mc Daniels of RUN DMC came to Rock and Roll to Hip Hop on Friday, he spoke for a full hour to a combination of my class and 20 middle school students, interspersing his reflections on music and life with lyrics from his songs. He spoke about his childhood, his upbringing ( he was a catholic school kid who loved rock and superheroes) his elevation to fame, his struggles with alcoholism and suicide, his problems with hip hop artists who don’t see themselves as part of a long tradition. It may have been the single most moving talk I have heard in my years at Fordham. There were nearly 70 people in the room and it seemed as though DMC was speaking individually to everyone there, telling them that they each had unique abilities, but that they would have to be responsible for bringing those abilities to the surface.
He shared his pain as well as his accomplishments, telling his audience that every time they overcome tragedy, it gives them the opportunity to save someone’s life. My students were mesmerized. Many are still trying to understand how and why this happened. Why we were privileged to have ‘this take place at Fordham on a Friday afternoon?
What religious people call “Grace” emanated from Daryl McDaniel and enveloped all who heard them
His fame made us pay attention; his message made us better appreciate our own power to do good in the world
No one will soon forget this day