Jesus, Race, and Ideology Lecture and Book Review

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I am excited about my talk at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge. This talk draws from my research in developing my American Jesus course. The above announcement recently went out; I am hoping to have a great conversation with folks who attend. The last lecture I gave there saw 20 – 25 people who attended. Here is my description of the talk: The Black Christian Communist in America starts with an address by the now defunct Knights of Labor’s Constitution, which opened with a biblical verse from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.” The workers believed Jesus Christ’s teachings promoted a central socialist narrative of love and sacrifice for all people – not one against socialism, the poor, and marginalized, which has long been a construct of American Calvinists, who purported that Christ and his teachings were capitalist. The historical transformation of Christ, as a blond haired blue-eyed capitalist, will be juxtaposed to a darker skinned Christ, who was a socialist and thus marched with the poor, with sinners, and communists. This engaging discussion addresses the relationship of the American church and religion, its members, and the importance of race and socialism in eradicating societal inequalities dating back to the black power movement of the 1960s to ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ in the 21st century.

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H-AmRel (History of American Religion) invited me to write a scholarly review for publication of the book “Black Power in the Bluff City: African-American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965 – 1975.” I am excited about finishing this work and grasping the complex historical narrative of Memphis — as presented by Shirletta J. Kinchen.

The Historical Impact on the Present

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Professor Wilsey and I co-authored a piece here on the place and significance of Confederate monuments, parks, and symbols of white supremacy in the present age of ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬. We noted that “The First Amendment empowers attitudes of hatred and disregard for the plight of others; it also gives power and voice to the weak and downtrodden. It allows for symbols of hate and social injustice like the Confederate flag, while also permitting oppressed and targeted groups to rise up in activism to eradicate societal ignorance and vice.”

2016 AAIHS Conference


 

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I greatly enjoyed my time at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for the African American Intellectual History Society conference. The responses to my paper were excellent. Both the questions and the comments to me and my colleagues were excellent. You can read more about this gathering here at the AAIHS.

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It was also great to sit on a panel with two brilliant historians in John and Phil — pictured below. I must have heard some 21 papers read over the course of two days. I authored a short piece on this conference at The Christian Century. Give it a read here.

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The Church of Christ

I met with the chaplain at MIT today, who is also a brother within the Church of Christ. We had coffee and spoke for a bit in his office. He invited Janette and I to attend Brookline Church of Christ with his family come Easter Sunday, which we will do. We spoke about my academic work and teaching, as well as his work. Family. Discomforts of New England culture and his sense that I might feel isolated in this world — when many here are not like me. And I agree with his assessment. The books he gave me as I left his office captured me. I have been reading since. I have come to a number of conclusions about the Church of Christ as a faith-based community.

1) Too many folks worship the Bible and not God. That is clear in how many but not all engage in community work. Many within the “denomination” have turned Alexander Campbell and his influence into a Lutheran like messiah. Many do not realize that they are operating under Campbell’s scientific interpretation of the New Testament — not the actual New Testament. Campbell said it and folks have followed it as gospel. Hence – it was part of the historical race issues of past in the CoC.

2) Church of Christ schools and institutions cannot continue to exist the way they do. With an emerging demographic of LGBTQ folks and millennial allies for social justice, the traditional school might look a certain way for a bit longer — but the makeup and operation of students will be different. Yes — your next roommate at Harding might and will probably be a devout Christ loving gay Christian.

3) As a now outsider to the Church of Christ world, I must use my love for others and leadership to help the establishment see its many weaknesses. This I am willing to do; it might require a compromise on my part, but I am sure I can to some extent.

4) I must help such institutions change through my scholarship. In many cases, joining other scholars with more knowledge as we write and publish in a fashion that will be readable to a mass audience.

Revisiting My 2007 Duke Post After 30 for 30

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The District Attorney recently exonerated all members charged with sexual assault in the Duke University lacrosse case. There were clearly no winners here. Moreover, the Duke lacrosse case illustrates both the racial and class resentment that exists in America. Just like the O.J. murder case, Duke lacrosse brought to life both the social and economic problems Americans tend to ignore. Because inequality in education exists, many minorities do not receive the proper education needed to attend a Duke. Think about the number of elite private schools in the country that have a very small number of black students and faculty. Often enough, blacks are victims of educational slavery in that many live in low property tax communities. Thus, minority public schools are faced with the challenge of hiring elite faculty members as well as providing each student with adequate resources for learning. This type of class division creates resentment and hate toward those who are privileged.

For one, as popular as Duke University is with its $ 5 billion (+) endowment, its elite faculty members, and its popular sports team (basketball), many residents living in the Durham area dislike Duke because of its perceived lack of investment in the local community. Locals contend that Duke is nothing more than a temporary haven for rich white kids from New England prep schools. Moreover, black students who attend Duke have had to create their own social environment. Campus festivals and activities are built around fraternities and “white cultural endeavors” that would clearly make blacks feel out of place. Just like the O.J. case, many of America’s black population were supporting the black female who claimed rape as a show of solidarity. Blacks want white America to see how race and class are still used to subjugate not only blacks, but non elites too. Most black Americans knew O.J. was guilty; they supported him as a form of protest against white America. Some black Americans feel as though whites in power have turned their backs on the racially abusive culture long promulgated by elitism. For example, in the minds of black folks, white supremacy is prevalent in all institutions of power, especially police departments. In Cornel West’s Race Matters, he states that

white America has been historically weak willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks. As long as double standards and differential treatment abound — as long as rap performer Ice-T is harshly condemned while former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates’s anti-black comments are received in polite silence, as long as Dr. Leonard Jeffries’s anti-Semitic statements are met with vitriolic outrage while presidential candidate Pat Buchanan’s anti-Semitism receives a general response — black nationalism will thrive.

Unlike the connection blacks feel toward the black female, they never felt any connection to O.J. He was viewed as a black elitist who turned his back on black folks, much like that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who continues to attack affirmative action. Blacks exploited the O.J. case to show America how much racism still exists in society. As for the female who claimed rape, it appears that blacks are supporting her because there were clearly signs of racism found among the lacrosse players.

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Many of them admitted to using racial slurs as well as being abusive to the black co-ed. In the end, here are the clear losers in all of this:

Women – feminism took a step backwards here. It is my understanding that rape victims are slow to come forward. Imagine if you are a college female who was date raped — will people believe you after this?
Duke’s lacrosse coach — he should not have been fired. According to an internal investigation, he did everything by the book. I feel for him.
Durham — race relations on Duke’s campus are pretty sticky.
The defendants — some left campus, lost a year of eligibility, and are faced with rebuilding their reputation

Community Reforms

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I just got off the phone with the CEO of Power of Self Education (POSE). I am excited that we are having dinner soon to discuss how Janette and I can further join her in community organizing. POSE sponsored the school to prison pipeline forum which I was able to take part in. I am excited to partner with her moving forward as we change the world one community at a time. Here is the video. I show up around 56 minutes.

Historical Thinking Skills Text

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I am excited to receive our text in the mail today. John and I spent a great deal of time thinking about the historical thinking skills teachers and students will be able to explore in their classes with this work. It does a great job forcing historical content to drive the needed skills. I dedicated it to my parents, brother, and wife — Janette Carson​. I am a lifelong teacher who spends hours thinking about my students ad how I can help them. I am not perfect — but man do I try.

Here are some reviews:

“One of the biggest problems teachers will face in teaching the redesigned AP European History course is finding quality resources to reinforce information and to get students to think and make connections. There are numerous examples in this book and I think it will only enhance student learning. Historical thinking skills can be challenging for students and this breaks it down and makes it much simpler for students to understand so that they will be more successful in both the course and on the AP Exam itself.”

Tina Gentry, History Teacher, Spring High School

“Carson and Irish provide an excellent resource in helping students master the historical thinking skills needed to reach their full potential in AP European History. It provides educators with numerous resources to help implement and build these skills with their students.”

Tara Gruber, AP World History, AP European History, Allen High School

“This new workbook doesn’t just explain the required historical thinking skills necessary for success on the AP European History exam. It shows the student and teacher how to apply those skills effectively throughout the four periods of the course curriculum. Using specific examples and clear graphic organizers, the authors have revolutionized the way study skills can be taught, giving the student a clear idea of how to use each skill and how the skills interrelate with and complement one another.”

Pamela Wolfe, History Department Chair, Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Former member of the European History Development Committee

“A workbook, such as this, would prove incredibly invaluable to those AP students looking to demonstrate, refine and improve their expertise. I am confident in saying this workbook will do an exceptional job at addressing the new AP European History curriculum and what it entails.”

Michael J. Poirier, Social Studies Teacher, Nashoba Regional High School

“An invaluable and practical teaching tool that covers all the important Historical Thinking Skills for AP European History. An enormously valuable guide from two highly regarded veteran AP European History teachers.”

Jay Harmon, AP History Teacher, Houston Christian High School