How shall we live (together)?
As I said to a colleague recently, I don't know but we've got to figure it out.
In my day job, I get to work with some really thoughtful people.
At the end of last week I talked with five of them about race and ethnic identity in this fraught moment in the United States, what our communities really need to flourish, and what it can take, practically, to set up spaces where everyone can participate.
You can sign up with Auburn to get the print report when it’s live, and, in the meantime, send me your thoughts on our conversation. I’ll listen out.
I’m looking forward to a few quiet days at the end of this week. And also—
Every single year, Indigenous people reframe the histories and myths of this season. Every year.
They point out the ongoing genocide, dispossession, and cultural displacement of Indigenous communities—political, economic, and spiritual projects that the US has sustained and continues to require so it can maintain its position as the dominant nation-state on this land.
As an immigrant descended from people exported from West Africa to the West Indies, I have to choose between the selective denial that the dominant national culture asks me to adopt and the posture that Native organizers, historians, and communities invite us all into: reflection, repentance, relationship.
As Tisa Wenger points out in the book Religious Freedom, Indigenous people are pushed out of frame every time the diverse religions and spiritual practices of the US gather for an “inclusive” group shot. So asking whose religions count as worthy of protection or preservation or even basic legal recognition in this context therefore means asking who gets to have power, who gets to exercise authority over individual and collective rites, who gets to expect—if not governmental support—at least neutral treatment in public life.
That neutrality is the bare minimum standard, and it’s also nowhere near satisfying for living in community.
That’s why, in almost every context, I catch myself asking not “who gets to have power,” but “who counts as human here” and “what does it take for us to live well together?”
Listen, over the next few months, for how those around you and those telling stories about this country answer those questions. Listen carefully.
We’ll talk about this again.
Take care this week,