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Nyasha Junior

Thanks for sharing. Despite our plans or intentions, unanticipated (and sometimes wonderful) things happen in the classroom. Usually, I keep my students from discussing contemporary events and biblical texts (as I mentioned in my previous blog entry). Still, I have many years of experience in controlling my emotions when discussing or encountering racism.


I would not limit it to white privilege. It's whenever the status-quo is challenged. This is an important distinction.

I was in an ethics class in Canada and many of the examples were from the US. it left a sense of "only Americans need to change. We're Canadian - we're the good guys."

We all need to look in those places where we feel uncomfortable with ourselves. The issue is not black and white.

But yes, Ella, it sounds like you did a remarkable job.


Thanks, for your comments. Nyasha,I just wonder if "controlling" emotions is always a good thing when "discussing or encountering racism." As some have commented on FB, what about the "gift of lament" (esp. "communal lament" leading to social change)? Thoughts?

Nyasha Junior

Dr. Johnson, controlling my emotions is a survival strategy for me as a Black woman. My family taught me self-restraint in the hope of keeping me alive in a world that does not value people who look like me. I'm not interested in lament. I'm angry. See Audre Lorde's "Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger" in Sister Outsider. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10375544


Thank you for sharing your perspective, Dr. Junior. I plan to read the book.

Mitzi Smith

Dr. Johnson, this is a provocative topic. I wanted to respond earlier but was not sure how I wanted to respond. If you remember early in Prez Obama's presidency some people accused him of being too cool and of not showing enough emotion, but many African Americans understood that he could not come across as an "angry black man". Yet, some African Americans accused the President of not being angry enough in his remarks concerning the Michael Brown murder. I was not one of them. I say this to say that it is complex for some, as I believe Dr. Junior is saying. At the same time, we regard some emotions as good and some as bad, depending on who the emotive one is. This bias is most evident, for some, with respect to gender and race. Certain emotions are acceptable and not acceptable depending on gender, race, and class. But God gives us emotions and I think the image of God in the Bible is quite emotional. I love that God is angry at social injustice, and I believe we should be too. I value and appreciate what you did in the classroom. I think to ignore you own feelings or to hide them would have resulted in a missed opportunity to demonstrate on the emotional level at least your empathy and solidarity with the least. There may be some students seeking such validation of their feelings in the context of some who might condone injustice and encourage the opposite...a callous disregard for those considered different. Keep on keeping it real, I say. My musings....

Zakiya Jackson

In the stages of grief, I believe anger usually comes before lament--grief. Under anger is often sadness, but it's hard to get to the sadness without the space for anger first. I don't often find those spaces. We are told over and over again that we shouldn't be angry...though as Baldwin states..."To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."

Thank you both for your contributions (Ella Johnson and Nyasha Junior). Much appreciated.

As I Black Woman, I consistently feel the need to control rage and find if I can, safe places to share it...and even on occasion lament.

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