So, many, many years ago while teaching at CAC in Little Rock, Arkansas, the head of school invited me to give an interview for the school’s bulletin. Here are a few screen pictures of that article. I was pretty darn excited to be considered.
Maybe it is just me, but I love receiving the most recent issues of a particular journal; I am a member of three historical associations, and when a current issue arrives in my mail, I usually cannot wait to delve into the articles, eager to assess the most recent academic scholarship. Also, as I have noted to students, I cannot read every single scholarly book that comes out. Hence, I spend empty office hours studying the basic premise of what is being discussed. Sure that makes me a bit of a fraud, but I am an honest one. With the transition from my last teaching position to my current one here at Brooks, my membership expired. As you can see from the note above, I am sorta back in the game. Cheers!
The book Colors of Excellence is the leading authority on this topic. I have read it a few times. It is one that is always discussed at the annual People of Color Conference held by the National Association of Independent Schools. Moreover, it serves as a great comfort to many teachers of color with its countless anecdotes from other faculty members of color regarding their own experiences in independent schools. Regardless of what some might say, only those of a particular minority group can fully understand the social construction in existence that might or might not promote a level of comfort. There are continual challenges regarding diversity here in the 21st century.
Many minority faculty members and school administrators discuss the hiring of minority candidates in two terms: comfort and fit; however, both terms can mean different things to schools and minority faculty members. As I write this, I am proud that my department chair, dean of faculty, and other chairs are at conferences in which efforts are made to recruit people of color is paramount for the health of our faculty and students. I do know of schools that assume that such faculty members will just apply. Little effort is made to bring such candidates to campus.
As I have noted before, one of the disconcerting facts about being a teacher of color in an independent school is this: We are treated as replaceable parts. Of course, as noted in a conversation at a recent conference, this is pretty much true for all people. I have seen colleagues grow frustrated at the lack of change within their schools and the uncompromising nature that shapes their institution. And, when these faculty members of color move on, the school seems to always get someone new, fresh out of graduate school, who does not know the history of the school’s relationship with faculty autonomy, diversity, and empowerment. New teachers and faculty of color, with their fresh energy and idealism, often go through the same cycles of delusion and roadblocks. Part of the problem is that independent schools tend to believe in what I have blogged about before: The “silver bullet theory.” Faculty and administrators in schools claim they have done this or that to fully meet the needs of a faculty member, but in the end, it is what they want and not what is in the best interest of the faculty.
I tell folks on the market how important it is to ask the right question during the process of seeking out a school; interview them as much as they interviewing you. As a person of color, it is key that we find a place what is best for us — new and/or experienced teacher.
I am excited to push forward with my research on Carl Henry, a modern historical figure in the evangelical movement who served as the first editor of Christianity Today. I hope to apply the color-line thesis to Christianity Today’s reluctance to discuss the color-line problem during Henry’s tenure. I would like to juxtapose it to the more liberal efforts of the Christian Century on matters of race. However, I might revise the comparative part just a bit; I am trying to draft a paper not a book. Thus, at the rate in which I am taking notes for this project, the page numbers might get out of hand. Above my friend Mrs. Chili let me borrow her scanner. I felt I might get more accomplished if I scanned the archival material first, which allows me to read, sort, and study later for my paper. Though downtown Boston is not too far from campus, I cannot continue to sprint down here every weekend.
I am reading through decades of articles from both journals dating back to the early 1950s. I must admit that I find this type of work exciting for my knowledge and academic growth, but for my students as well. I am doing what I teach. And though this topic of scholarship is narrow and a bit specific, it does not change its macro impact on race and faith.
I have been slowly working on a paper dealing with historical change agents as they relate to race, faith, and sexual orientation in conservative Christian institutions. If you are or are not and OUT gay/lesbian Christian who has worked, attended, and/or been part of conservative Christian institutions (school, church, home) and would like to share your thoughts with me, feel free to contact me. I do have a few now OUT students and colleagues who have offered some thoughts. Feel free to be anonymous as I work past the review of historical literature phase. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is my abstract: Professor Carson’s paper, titled, Racial Reflection and Sexual Identity: The Challenges of Silence in Conservative Institutions, discusses how black integration via political rights shaped twentieth century black studies circa 1970. Such studies, however, never fully materialized among faith-based institutions. Thus, with the advent of the twenty-first century, black faculty members and students have often been silenced by the notion of whiteness, in which one believes the world is colorblind. This is further exasperated by the identity issues in which gays and lesbians wrestle with in faith-based environments. This paper will delve into the various change agents that predominately white faith-based institutions must embrace in order to cultivate a true appreciation of diversity. Research for this paper draws on historical literature and anthropological arguments that analyzes trends in race and sexuality, as well as scriptural arguments.
As an academic — and one who has studied some religion and science, but nothing that remotely qualifies me as an authority, I always urge students to take a critical approach to the topic of religion and science. I respect people of faith who use it as their guide to promote good. I realize people have their faith because it is the element of one’s self cosmos which allows them to understand the unknown. Those of faith must also realize that we live in a very pluralistic world in which there are countless beliefs about creation. And, there are those who hold to a more evolutionary origin. In the end, our focus should not be centered on converting believers into non believers and non believers into believers;the focus should be centered on engagement: How might the world’s many beliefs be used to promote a greater sense of order? Hence, members of both sides can be critical thinkers in using their constitutional self as a measure of further engaging questions about universal discovery. Both Newton and Galileo believed in the relationship between science and religion. Hence, the rise of modern science in the age of modernity and critical thought started with them. Their research and scientific inquiry promoted a new fashion of thought. Hence, the rise of theism, deism, and eventually atheism once society reached the age of Darwin in a post Baron d’Holbach age of determinism.
What I most enjoyed about the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate was a small sense of said order. If you have not seen it, I encourage you to watch it. They were civil. And in being civil, created a forum in which all people might engage in a dialogue without the temperament.