In conjunction with the HDS Committee on Racial Justice and Healing and in cooperation with the courses "Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion" (T&M) and "Introduction to Ministry Studies" (IMS), Professors David Holland and Matthew Potts hosted a two-part series of community conversations on issues of white supremacy and anti-blackness in the study of ministry and religion.
On September 2, Professor Potts, Associate Professor of Religion and Literature and of Ministry Studies, moderated a discussion on white supremacy in the study and practice of ministry.
Panelists included: Cheryl Giles, Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling; Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity; Ousmane Kane, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society, Professor of African and African American Studies (FAS), and Denominational Counselor to Muslim Students; Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity; and Michelle Sanchez, Associate Professor of Theology.
These community-wide events seek to facilitate conversations among students, staff, faculty, and alumni on essential topics. We hope all in the HDS community can join us for these critical discussions as we launch into a promising, and challenging, new academic year.
So this is a webinar, and it's a special meeting. Thank you all for joining it. First of all, I guess, welcome back to the semester and just this strange and challenging and historic semester.
So David Holland and I were talking over the summer. Professor Holland teaches Theories and Methods and I teach IMS, and we were speaking about ways that we could approach this term differently apart from the obvious, especially in the wake of the racist violence that we've seen in our country over the past several months and the protests, the peaceful protests in response. And especially in light of the last week, events in Kenosha and in Portland, the shooting of Jacob Blake, and then the follow-on violence.
We are glad to have this conversation, but not just this conversation. Also, all your participation and our collective resolve to respond not just with conversation, but with action. So thank you all for being here today. Thank you for being part of this conversation. And the topic is -- today's topic is loosely gathered around white supremacy and the study and practice of ministry.
What I would normally be doing at this hour would be teaching the first class of Instruction and Ministry Studies to the incoming cohort of MDiv students. But we wanted to broaden the conversation, make this our first topic of conversation, broaden it, and also invite some distinguished colleagues and faculty members to come join us and help us have this conversation.
So this is going to run as a Zoom webinar, which I have not moderated before, so we'll see how this goes. But each of our panelists who I'll introduce in a moment are going to speak for a few minutes each, somewhere between eight to 10 or 12 or something minutes each, with remarks based upon that topic. And then we will open the forum up or the webinar up for questions from the 119 others of you so far who have gathered for this conversation.
There are a couple of ways that we'll be able to do that. If you'd like to speak out loud, you can request to-- you can raise your hand and I can allow you to talk. Or also, at the bottom of your Zoom screen, there's a Q&A button, and you can type your questions in.
So after about the first hour of this forum, or slightly less I guess, when we open it up for questions, if you would like to pose a question to the panel or make a comment, please either use the Q&A function to type in a question or raise your hand and I can unmute your microphone and you can speak to us generally, OK?
So I'm going to introduce our panelists now, and then we'll turn to them directly. We have five colleagues from our faculty here with us today. Cheryl Giles, who's the Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling. Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity.
Ousmane Kane, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society. Also the professor in African American Studies and FAS. And he's also a denominational counselor to Muslim students in our MDF program.
Dan McKanan, who is Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity. And Michelle Sanchez who's Associate Professor of Theology.
I just want to say a couple of words about why I invited these folks. It's first because they're friends and colleagues of mine whose work I really respect, and who-- I've worked with all of them. I've worked with before. But also, because I felt that their perspective on this, particularly the question of white supremacy and ministry or ministry formation, the study of ministry, the practice of ministry, each approach this question from different professional obligations and interests. But all, I think, bring something to it in a way that I personally wanted to hear from all of them, and so I thought they would be the ones that I would invite all of us to hear from.
I also wanted to say just one other word about the panel that I've gathered for today. You know, we have a lot of people on our faculty, and not just in the Divinity School faculty but across the university, who could speak really directly to the question of white supremacy and white supremacy and ministry. Our convocation speaker tomorrow, Cornell Brooks, I think will do this and could do this for us here, Cornel West. Others who speak directly to these questions in their work and whom I encourage you to seek out and reach out to if you want to work more with this.
But I also really wanted to-- this was important me this summer as I was planning this. I wanted to make sure that I did not comprise a panel only of people of color, because the work of battling white supremacy is the task and responsibility of white people, so I wanted white people on this panel. And so I'm glad for the participation of all our panelists.
And this is not a limited set. There are many, many at our school and across the university who could speak these issues. But these five are the ones I wanted to hear from, and I'm looking forward to hear from. And so I'm going to stop talking so we can hear from them. So our first speaker will be Cheryl. And I'm going to mute myself and ask my other panelists to mute themselves. And Cheryl.
So thank you for the invitation, Matt. And happy to join my colleagues in having this conversation. Wow, this is agonizingly-- this is very difficult to do, trying to sort of frame what were the most important things for me to talk about. And I thought I'd talk about what's happening on my part.
As you know, and for those of you that are in your first year, I've been teaching at Harvard Divinity School for about 23 years. And I'm also a graduate, an alum, having received an MDiv back in the '70s.
The whole process of white supremacy, anti-racism practices has been going on for many years. And now we find ourselves at a unique point, having at least a double pandemic, coronavirus and anti-racism practices and rebellion.
I am heartened by the rebellion. It feels like we're at a different point than we've been at before. Feels different than the '60s. There were different things at stake during the '60s. And certainly now, it's heartening for me to see so many non-black-- it's heartening for me to see so many white people part of the Black Lives Matter protest.
So all I want to say is I'm on sabbatical this semester and for the year, actually. And I've been doing a lot of reading. And I recommend Begin Again by Eddie Glaude. His focus is sort of renewing or reviving James Baldwin's ideas about race. And also, I want to sort of give a shout-out to the book My Grandmother Hands by Resmaa Menakem, which I think is fabulous.
So having said all that, I want to start with a quote from Baldwin. And I want to share some brief snapshots of things that are on my heart. And if there are questions later, I'm happy to engage, or some of my colleagues might pick them up.
So Baldwin, as you know, was sort of an astute, visionary writer who constantly looked at race and the interaction of the racial tension in the United States, many of which he experienced as a queer gay man-- many of which he experienced as a queer man, and also as someone who also at least began his early life as a really committed Christian. And some of those things came into tension.
One of the quotes that he wrote that I found particularly interesting is this. He said, "It is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, and the future of the country depends on that."
Now that's exactly where we are right now, you know? And the work that we need to do is going to take more than just understanding anti-racism practice or anti-racism. All of our students, all of you are smart. You're able to eloquently talk about anti-racism, intersectionality. I hear it in my classes and other conversations.
But it's bigger than that. And I want to reach out to you today to talk about some things that are really important to me and that I think are necessary to kind of shift this to move into a phase of transformation from where we are now.
And one is that we need to train our attention to notice and remember. I think noticing is difficult, because we tend to live in our heads. And remember, we certainly don't want to remember.
So for example, 400 years ago, for 400 years we have lived the contradictory myth that black bodies are strong and vulnerable and frightening to white bodies, and white bodies are fragile, vulnerable, especially to black bodies. So that dichotomy is something that was put in place early on, about 1619 or thereafter when colonialism really started to take root and the seeds of white supremacy were there.
And most of you, if you've read your history-- I think it's important go back to do some reading around history-- a lot of the attempts to enslave people, particularly slave black people, had to do with money. It was an economic project that turned into a machine that allowed people to get wealthy. So the whole enterprise of enslavement, it was a corporation in those days.
And as we think about systemic racism, white supremacy, we need to really look back at the roots. And with this whole notion of how white bodies look, there was another contradictory myth around black bodies, and that the job of black bodies was to care for white bodies, to soothe them, protect them, and particularly from black bodies.
Now that's a little bit-- again, a little bit of a tension, because the black bodies that were initially enslaved were bodies that were both plowing the soil, picking cotton, preparing food, washing clothes, laundering clothes, taking care of children. So early black folks were both taking care of, nurturing folks, as well as being despised at the same time.
This whole notion of white fragility is something that Robin DiAngelo has written about more recently. But it's more of an immediate defensive posture whenever a white body is challenged on the subject of race and equality or equity.
So if you say to any white person that they're racist, they'll crumble. I mean, you get the tears profusely. And not just women. People are deeply hurt. And they're hurt because they feel like they've done something. But if you kind of scratch the surface a little bit more, most white people will say, well, I had nothing to do with this. This was long before I ever got here.
But the truth of the matter and my point is-- and I'm going to try to make it over and over again-- is that both white bodies and black bodies have a long history of being traumatized, and that trauma is settled in the body. And that's what we have to-- we have different challenges around this, but that's what we have to work out of in order to transform the kind of culture and the society that we have now.
White fragility is reflexive, protective. It's a way for the white body to avoid experiencing the pain of historical trauma inflicted by other white bodies. So those early colonists, the work that they did in setting up this sort of machine around slavery, picking cotton, and the wealth they accrued from that, all those things, those are-- you know, if you think of the word epigenetics, they also passed on historically through your grandparents, your mother, your father, great-grandparents in the same way that for African Americans, we have a different legacy that shows up in different ways in our bodies.
And I think we pay a lot of attention, particularly in terms of the struggle around white people to understand white supremacy and anti-racism, that it's a cognitive process. But one of the reasons I think that it's been here so long and become systemic is that we don't ever get to the point where we're talking about how to transform the kind of embodied white supremacy that you live in.
And I'm speaking to white people now. And black people have another challenge around transforming the historical intergenerational trauma that we've experienced and ways in which we've reacted to that.
I think this is really an important point. Some of these readings, the things that I've been reading have come from people like Rachel Yehuda who was one of the first people to start researching-- she's a Jewish woman who started researching the history of Nazism and how the experience of having parents, grandparents in the Holocaust, that whole experience was passed on from generation to generation, even though the future generations were far removed from the Holocaust, that some of the same anxiety was residing in their bodies. So she's been at the forefront of this conversation and research, and it's pretty important.
So one of the ways that in terms of the fragility-- fragility is trauma-driven. And so for most white people, there's a kind of defensiveness that quickly turns into a fight, flight, or freeze. Neurosciences have been really talking about this, researching this for quite a while now.
And so basically, what I'm saying is that when people become defensive, it triggers off something in the brain that says, oh, I've got to find a place to find safety. And so that might be, I don't want to talk about it. That might be saying-- you know, just leaving. It might be sort of a freeze frame. And most people don't want to be judged. And I think everyone is too focused on trying to protect what they think is at risk in the moment, and so it's very difficult to have these conversations.
I think the way out for white people is to own your own whiteness and begin to understand the historical legacy of white supremacy, and that it lives in the body. In other words, it's throughout generations. It keep showing up again and again. You don't have to do anything. It just happened. You're born with it and it keeps-- one of the things that's really important is recognizing your whiteness.
And we know that race is a social construct, but that whiteness also has a historical trauma that needs to be transformed. That means for white folks accepting, exploring, and mending the trauma in order to dismantle systemic racism.
Now I really believe that without doing this work, we're not going anywhere. We can sort of understand cognitively, linguistically, and all the various ways, philosophically how-- understand white supremacy, racism. But I think we've been scratching at the surface for a long time with that, because we really have not understood how this is embodied in us and in the ways that we need to transform that.
And as we know, without a clear and present focus on body trauma, the whole question of systemic racism and white supremacy really can't be fully addressed. So when white people begin to address white body supremacy, they can begin to learn and feel the impact of white supremacy, meaning the undoing of it.
Because what happens is that our social activism takes on a different flavor. It takes on a different impact in that the embodiment of white racism and working that through is the beginning of a practice to heal. And likewise, the same thing, again, is true for African American folks and people of color. But the work that needs to be done is really different.
So I just want to underscore that for my point, usually teaching spiritual care and counseling and trauma-- and a lot of trauma courses now and also counseling courses. In both courses, I focus a lot on mindfulness as a standalone, just mindfulness, being mindful of who you are, where you are, what you're about.
And this takes work. This is not something that you can live in your head. Mindfulness comes from living in your body, so you know really what's going on and what's happening.
So for example, a half hour before this is about to start-- I've been thinking about this forever. I had lots of different ideas. Finally was able to write them down. And then I had a headache. I had a headache a half hour before this, and I thought, oh, what is this going on?
And I just stopped for a moment and I thought, OK. You're anxious. And what am I anxious about? Well, about a lot of things, right? This is a hard conversation in some ways. This is something I've been thinking about for a very, very long time. And at times, it's been hard for me to stay in this conversation, because I've got in terms of reactivity-- fight, flight, or freeze-- I stand in the fight-- I have a fight stance and ready to sort of defend, take on.
And that will happen. There's no perfect way to do this. But I guess what I'm trying to advocate or suggest or implore is that we really look at somatic practices. What's happening in the body for each of us? What's coming up? You're walking down the city street. You see somebody cross the street. You're walking down the street. You see a black person on the street. You decide to cross the street. What's going on in that moment? And this is really a practice you have to be attuned to every day.
And so one of the things I thought about is, what can I recommend? I recommended two books. But I also recommended something that I'm going to start today, even though I've been thinking and reading about this for a long time, which is a racial healing journal, which in my daily practice, I meditate every day, but that doesn't mean that I'm always attuned to what's happening in my body.
It is to begin to work on this, after this conversation, racial healing journal, is to write about, what feelings came up for me during the day as I was moving through the day? Was I anxious? Was I afraid? Was I holding back? Holding back is also another thing, where we don't stand up for what we see and what we know. We kind of hang back because we don't want to be judged or whatever.
So I'll end there, because we have four other speakers. So my point really has to do with trauma that lives in the body, white bodies and black bodies, and for us to begin to work on somatic practices that can really help us heal and begin the process of transformation. I think without that, tackling white supremacy and systemic practices is just going to have us on a treadmill going nowhere. So thank you.
Thank you, Cheryl. I hear a lot of echoes of Resmaa Menakem's book in your comments. And we required that book for IMS this fall, so I know we have a lot of first year IMS students in the room right now, so I'm sure they'll have a lot of questions for you. So thank you, Cheryl, for your comments. Dan?
Yes. Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, Matt and David, for using the power that you have teaching our introductory courses to galvanize this community-wide conversation. Thank you, Cheryl, for the ways you're helping us really think about the traumas in our bodies that influence the way we react when challenged to transform longstanding structures.
And thanks to everybody who came to this event. This is really a chance for us to do this work as a community in ways where we hold one another accountable, and that wouldn't happen without lots and lots of us here together, so I'm very, very grateful.
I've begun to get to know some of you who are new students in my role as Chair of the MTS Committee. But today, I'm going to speak out of the other role that I hold here. As Emerson Senior Lecturer, I have a particular responsibility to uphold the historic connection between the Divinity School and the Unitarian Universalist tradition, which in part was born right here at Harvard Divinity School.
And this double accountability to a particular faith tradition as well as to our school gives me a comparative vantage point on our national conversation about undoing white supremacy, because I'm participating in these conversations in the context of two institutions that are very different in some respects, but also deeply related.
So what I'm going to do with my time is to share a little bit of the Unitarian Universalist story of grappling with white supremacy as a way of perhaps shedding some comparative insights on our work at Harvard Divinity School and the work that all of you are doing in various, specific faith traditions.
It often happens that a crucial conversation emerges in the wake of a specific event that exposes longstanding structural problems. This obviously is what happened with our current national conversation which was sparked by the murder of George Floyd, even though it was one in a line of murders that goes back, as Cheryl was saying, to 1619 in the United States, North American context, but back even further centuries in a broader global context.
Likewise, the current Unitarian Universalist conversation about white supremacy has been focused on a single event that happened in 2017. This was an event in which-- a controversy over a hiring decision. At the time, our denominational president, Peter Morales, was Latino, but almost everyone else in a top position of leadership in the denomination was a white person. Most of them ordained, most of them male, even though most UU religious professionals then and now did not identify as male.
When yet another top position was filled by a white ordained man, President Morales was questioned at a gathering for religious professionals of color. When he responded by saying that the problem was with the pipeline, there weren't enough qualified candidates, a Latina religious educator publicly shared her story of having applied for the job, been told she was fully qualified, but not receiving it.
President Morales responded awkwardly, and the controversy intensified to the point where ultimately he resigned. The person who made the hiring decision resigned. Two other top leaders resigned. And we realized we really needed to have a deeper conversation across our tradition to try to find out if we could start doing things differently.
Now currently, Harvard Divinity School is not in a crisis like that, a crisis focused on a particular thing, at least not yet. And it's interesting to reflect on that not yet.
Part of our Unitarian Universalist crisis was the realization that having a person of color in one top leadership position did not magically make white supremacy go away. So in some ways, it was the same challenge that the United States as a whole faced during the Barack Obama presidency where so many people had invested so many hopes in what he individually could do, and realized the work that needed to be done needed to be shared much more broadly.
And part of the reason HDS doesn't have that particular crisis is we haven't even reached that point in our institutional history. All of the deans who have served HDS have been white men from Christian backgrounds. All Harvard presidents have been white, all of them men with one exception.
So thinking about the UU parallel, it's reasonable to assume that as we take further steps on this journey at the Divinity School, we're likely to get more uncomfortable, not less. And we need to be ready for that discomfort and ready to find the ways in which discomfort generates creative new thinking. And I'm going to run through a list of creative things that have happened in Unitarian Universalism that reflect the kind of possibility that can be born of discomfort.
One creative thing was a series of events called the White Supremacy Teach-Ins where religious educators really took the lead in inviting every congregation-- and the vast majority of congregations did participate in this-- to start having those deeper conversations, engaging the issues of trauma that Cheryl was just talking about.
Another creative step is a practice that often is attached to the word centering, which is the discipline that happens when a community starts paying attention to those people within the community who have previously been at the margins. So when Unitarian Universalists gather nationally in our general assembly, for the past few years since the crisis, there's always been a moment when all the people of color who are present are invited in some way to move to a more visible state. And this is a hall with thousands of people in it.
So among those thousands, you suddenly see hundreds of people from previously marginalized communities together on the stage at the center of attention, giving the lie to all of the ideas about, well, there's not enough, or we can't find the right pool, or so forth. Yes, we're here. There's a visible presentation of that that challenges everyone to think differently.
Another piece of creative new thinking has to do with the way we tell our history. And I'm trained primarily as a historian. I serve on the board of the UU History and Heritage Society, so this is very crucial to me. Many congregations have started telling the difficult stories of the way in which our beginnings are tied up with the history of slavery in this country. And this is shattering some really big myths, particularly the myth that slavery was an exclusively southern phenomenon. Unitarian Universalism historically is a denomination that has been strongest in New England.
In the past, we told a lot of heroic stories about the abolitionist sentiments of our congregations during the 19th century. Now we're learning to tell the stories of how our congregations were deeply involved in the system of slavery that existed in New England for about 200 years in the 17th and 18th centuries, and how the endowments that continue to sustain Unitarian Universalist work to this day were built on a foundation of the appropriation of land from indigenous communities and the appropriation of labor from enslaved Africans.
Obviously, the parallel to Harvard is quite intense here. Harvard also benefits from a longstanding endowment founded, as American capitalism as a whole is founded, on the practices of land theft and enslavement.
The final creative thing that we've been doing in Unitarian Universalism is reconfiguring our national leadership to reflect to the community that we want to become. So in the wake of the crisis, a new president, Susan Frederick-Gray, worked with our Commission on Institutional Change with her vice president, Carey McDonald, to really transform the hiring culture, to bring into the top leadership positions people who reflect the diversity that is already present in our movement and that we want to reflect the future of our movement ever more fully.
This involved a real deep look at all of the subtle aspects of our hiring culture that made it harder for people of color to apply for and receive top leadership positions. It also meant challenging what I see as the really insidious logic of meritocracy. And by meritocracy, I mean the idea that all human beings in all our diversity can be placed in a rank order of merit, one after one after one. And whenever you need to fill a position, you're somehow obliged to choose the most, quote, unquote, "meritorious individual."
And meritocracy, as it emerged at places like Harvard in the early part of the 20th century, was imagined as an antidote to older forms of structural privilege. But what has become clearer and clearer with each passing decade is that meritocracy has become one of the primary guises of white supremacy in our society, because people with entrenched privilege will always find a way to attain whatever traits or experiences are deemed meritorious. This is why Harvard undergraduate admission admits about as many people from the top 1% of the US income distribution as from the bottom 60%.
The alternative to meritocracy is a deeper emphasis on community. Rather than singling out meritorious individuals, we look for collaborative groups of people who will together empower one another to lead our communities to be the best communities we can be.
And at several crucial junctures in the Unitarian Universalist story, we've actually chosen teams for positions that had been filled by individuals. Another way to embody the practice of working through those traumas that Cheryl was talking about together rather than imagining that we can do it individually.
So my closing thought for all of you is, how can you help Harvard move in the same direction of greater communal accountability in the work that we need to do together? Thanks so much.
Thank you, Dan. Thank you for your reminder and the exhortation to accept discomfort, to embrace discomfort. So next, we'll hear from professor Karen King.
Thank you. And my thanks too to Matt and David for organizing this. And already, I've learned so much from my colleague Cheryl and from Dan, who spoke so much out of and from their work, their positions, and the work that they do at the school. I'm going to try to do the same.
My thought is to talk a bit about white supremacy and anti-racism with regard to space and culture, taking an example from my own field of New Testament and early Christianity, especially the Intro to New Testament Course. So I want to take us into the classroom and think about fields and the kinds of things we do.
I want to talk about space and culture. I want to start with Kendi's book, How to Be an Antiracist. I think a lot of us have been reading that this summer. I've been reading a lot of James Baldwin, who I cannot over-recommend. It's just fantastic.
But Kendi's-- these two chapters in Kendi really struck me when I thought about how I as a white person see and can see white supremacy operating in our environment at the Divinity School. Kendi's talking about space. He says, "White spaces are not understood to be racialized. They're not understood to be white," OK? "They are simply normal," OK? "And they are superior." OK?
"The opposite," he says, "is the case for black space." In practice, however, if you go to these spaces that have been thus labeled or not labeled, quote, "we will find good and bad, violence and nonviolence in all spaces, no matter how rich or poor, black or non-black."
Harvard is arguably-- I think it would be hard to argue against this, actually-- Harvard is arguably traditionally a white supremacist space. So how do we become effectively anti-racist? This is important to me personally, and it's something that is urgent. Yeah. In all the ways that we must all feel and could talk about.
At HDS, we are and have been talking about diversity and inclusion. I've been chairing that committee, OK? How is that different, Kendi led me to ask, from previous kinds of attempts at integration or desegregation of space? Or how could it be different?
Because diversity clearly can be cosmetic, OK? And it's clearly the case that the question of inclusion depends, OK? Who is including-- who is allowing whom to be included? Included in what?
Kendi criticizes past policies in which he says, quote, "Integration into whiteness becomes racial progress." This is clearly a criticism, and something that we need to ask ourselves about what we're doing when we're talking about diversity and inclusion.
Instead, Kendi talks about racial solidarity, which he defines, and I quote, "openly identifying, supporting, and protecting integrated racial spaces. To be anti-racist is to equate and nurture difference, to equate and nurture difference among racial groups." Unquote.
So my question is, how do we do that here in actual practice? And that's where I want to turn to his talk about culture. To address that, let's move the issue of white supremacy with regard to culture. And again, Kendi said, quote, "The act of making a cultural standard and hierarchy is what creates cultural racism. The act of making a cultural standard and hierarchy."
So white supremacy assumes the universality and superiority of a provincial culture or a set of cultures that are identified with white elites. OK? So white supremacy assumes universality. In its normality, it's talking about humanity, OK? When really it's provincial. It's coming from a place, talking out of a place, out of a history, and so on and so forth. OK? A culture, a set of cultures identified with whites. OK?
And here, Kendi quotes Molefi Kete Asante. Quote, "The rejection of European particularism as universal is the first stage of our coming intellectual struggle." There's some really great work being done on that. If you haven't read this great book by Chakrabarty on Provincializing Europe, go and read. It's somewhat older now, but it's a great book. OK.
But I would argue that a second move, and one that we can make here as a respectful-- that is critical, constructive engagement with cultural difference. For me, a respectful engagement with difference and with cultural difference means critical, constructive engagement. It's not a matter of just bringing in, accepting, or naming, but really a deep engagement.
So if we turn out to look at New Testament early Christianity, which is my field-- and especially, my field is working in the early centuries of Christianity with not only the New Testament, but with a broader range of literature. I've worked in particular on talking about how to include texts that were left out, that were marginalized, that were recently discovered, how we work more voices into the tradition.
But the question I want to talk about today is, what would that look like in an introduction to New Testament studies? And the first thing is to realize that in the 20th century, New Testament studies at elite universities and seminaries in the US, certain methods of biblical interpretation that had been developed largely in European and US university contexts were-- and to a large degree they still are-- the privileged methods, OK? The privileged way you do biblical interpretation.
These methods then institutionalize, they programize, and they reinforce white supremacy by making these cultural traditions the almost sole foundation of the field as such. So you see how this fits back into this notion about culture and the unacknowledged notion that these methods and so forth are coming from white culture. They're institutionalizing and reinforcing white supremacy.
Now when I came to HDS about 20 or more years ago, the curriculum clearly centered on Christianity. And at that time actually, we were pretty innovative in requiring our students to have some knowledge of what we called world religions, OK? Christianity was not included as a world religion. The world religions were the other traditions, OK? But there's a lot that can be said about that, and you'll be hearing a lot about it during your time here.
But it only takes a single second to see how all of this is incredibly odd, OK? Christ followers first appeared in Asia Minor at the crossroads of three continents. Africa, Asia, and Europe. It has early roots in all three. But in modern Western scholarship, Christianity is usually represented as a Western religion, often in contrast to Eastern religions or indigenous religions, and so on and so forth. You can think of all those other kinds of categorizing that we use.
But of course, today, Christianity is a global phenomenon, and portions of the Bible have been translated into over 2,600 languages, just to give you a sense of that huge breadth of culture. It's been over 2,000 years since Jesus lived. And the history of that period is intensely complex, and it includes what could truly be called a wide diversity of cultures and of ways of scripturalizing.
So if one takes a course on the history of Christianity, it now often includes connections with mission, with colonialism, and so on and so forth. But biblical studies as it is taught in many US universities and seminaries, often relegates these kinds of topics to theology, to mission studies, to ministry studies, or to global Christianity. Not particularly to biblical studies.
The best selling book for the Introduction to the New Testament written by Bart Ehrman is an introduction into Euro-American methods of biblical interpretation, focusing on the New Testament and related literature within the context in which they were first composed and read. That is to say, it focuses on introducing students to understand the books in the New Testament in terms of the ancient Mediterranean world during the early Roman Empire, more or less 1,700 to 2,000 years ago.
Certainly, other kinds of interpretations and approaches are now included in intro courses, but they tend to be marked as such. Asian interpretation, African American interpretation, feminist, post-colonial, so on and so forth.
So within this kind of frame, contemporary interpretations, the way people actually live out, practice, work on scripture, as well as almost all of the 2,000-year history of the use of scriptures and its practices globally for, as I said, almost 2,000 years simply aren't taken up. They are-- and I'm thinking like music, like sermons, theology, systematic theology, and so forth. These are often deemed anachronistic or quote, unquote, "theological." And often, when the word theological is used, it's used in a negative, derogatory sense as something that is not scientifically objective like historical critics.
Now part of this is gone, OK? And some people will rightly, absolutely rightly say, oh, that's all passed. But I think we need to take five or six or seven or 100 nods and look at that and ask ourselves how gone that gone is?
Now there is a lot going on to change all of that and much more. I just wanted to talk today about one approach that I find particularly helpful. And here, the book that sparked this for me and the book I can recommend to you is called They Were All in One Place? They Were All in One Place?
This is an edited volume, edited by Randall Bailey, Tat-Siong Benny Liew, and Fernando Segovia. This is being taped and recorded so I hope you can come back and get those names. But the title you can find anyway. They Were All in One Place?
So what they talk about is minority biblical criticism, OK? And I want to be really super careful that we don't then say, oh, this is the way minorities do biblical criticism, OK? And I want to say this is something that I would call radical contextualizing. And it is applicable I think not only to biblical studies, but should the humanities in general, OK? For all groups, methods, topics, things you could take. I would-- I think probably practically anything that one wants to study.
And what this involves is contextualizing, putting things in context, OK? The social, the political, the theological, the ideological, the historical, the material, the economic. Go on, OK? Get your adjectives in there, OK? All of these kinds of contexts.
But they're suggesting we look at three things in particular. And this is where Intro to New Testament works really well. First is texts, the writings of the New Testament. Secondly, the interpreters, which is oneself and others who are doing the interpreting, contextualizing. And thirdly, method and theory.
Now the first is regularly done in New Testament studies, OK? For example, the literature of the New Testament texts are examined in their context, in the ancient Roman Imperial Mediterranean world.
Time, place, history of composition and dissemination, including topics that seem very contemporary like Roman imperialism and colonialism, slavery, sex-gender protocols, the understandings of the way that sex and gender were constructed and were working and were operating. Religion in this period was not a separate domain of life, but was fully implicated in familial, political, social, and domestic life.
I mean, it's just so helpful to ask, what does it mean? Are we reading the New Testament text as literature that were composed in a slave society, in a colonialist society? And what does this mean? How does this affect our reading as opposed to other kinds of ways of reading?
But contextualization also asks, where did the New Testament as a collection of literature come from? When? Who decided? What was in it? What does it look like physically as an object? And, of course, this is really great, because our fantastic librarians at Harvard Divinity School can assemble for us bibles from every century. Well, OK. The first cen-- we don't have anything from the first century, OK?
In the second century, eh. OK. But after that, we've got ancient papyrus fragments. We have bibles from every continent and every century, and they're just marvelous to look at.
Forms changed over time. The question is, what difference does that make with the actual physical thing, OK? How it's read and how it's interpreted. And who could read, anyway? If most people couldn't read, then what's going on with the Bible? What about oral traditions? What impact did they have? And so much more. All of this is extremely exciting, and it's part of contextualizing A, which is texts.
But now if we go to contextualizing interpreters, the self and others, that's not the only context, OK? Also equally important is to contextualize ourselves and the people we're reading, but I want to talk about us for a minute, OK? You for example, OK?
As a particular interpreter or reader of the New Testament literature, we have to assume we come with widely different assumptions and aims. That's fine, OK? That's who we are.
In contextualizing ourselves, the notion is to pay attention to where each of us is coming from and to value that location, to value the resources each person brings to biblical interpretation, including, what are the important questions to ask? What perspectives are important to attend to? We're going to have different notions of this.
The set of questions has to be brought. Not a list like we always used to contextualize. I'm a white feminist from Montana. OK. They have to be deep exploration, a place of history, political context, social life, ideological assumptions, theological commitments and more. And not least for our topic today, the context and the effects of white supremacy in our engagement with them.
And as Cheryl just told us, the trauma that we bring, the white supremacy, the weight in white bodies, in black bodies and brown bodies, this is all involved when we come to these. All of this folds into all three areas of contextualization.
The third area is a topic of considerable conversation in the contemporary academy, but it's very rarely looked at in biblical studies in this way. And that is contextualization of theory and method.
This is where assuming that the methods that have come to us from European and American criticism are the methods-- and we can do the history of them. But now we need to go beyond just saying, oh, so-and-so invented the two-source theory of gospel criticism. We need to go past that, OK?
And we need to ask, what assumptions undergird, form, or inform interpretation? What approaches are preferred in particular settings? And include a wide variety [AUDIO OUT] for what ends?
Methods, I think, are tools, tools that we devise to do certain kinds of work, to answer certain questions, to build, and to reinforce certain kinds of constructions, including constructions like white supremacy, OK? Whether that's a historical interpretation or denominational creed, resistance to white supremacy or other kinds of oppression or whatever, the thing is that tools reveal certain things and they hide others.
So the issue is to give method and theory the same kind of critical analysis as other kinds of contextualization. If a method or a theory is a tool, what was or what is its purpose? Whose purpose does it serve? Are the assumptions and the goals made transparent? Do we understand the limitations of a particular tool, OK? Do we understand the intended and unintended consequences made subject to critical analysis and to creative innovation?
The idea is to determine or devise what methods and theories are going to be most helpful for your goals, OK? So what tools do you need to do the work you've come here to Harvard Divinity School to do? How do you see what work they're actually doing? How do you get at this? How do you understand yourself and the work you're doing?
Now to step back from the course, of course, each of these could be a lot of work, a lifetime of work, OK? In any class one takes, you're going to get practically nothing. OK. But the goal of an intro class is to learn about and engage with the New Testament, about writings about it with your fellow classmates.
And what I do, though, is in addition to that, in addition to learning something about the New Testament, which I think is a perfectly reasonable expectation for a course called Introduction to the New Testament, I encourage students to cultivate a habit of asking certain kinds of questions to everything, everywhere.
What is the evidence evidence of? Who gets to say what counts as evidence? What work is it doing? For whom? To what ends? With what effects? What's at stake for whom? Why? What differences make a difference? Who or what is absent? What don't we know? What can't we know?
And I give two thoughts. Actually, there's three, OK? I added one. First of all, if it's not complex enough, it's not true. Secondly, power is everywhere. And thirdly, the ethical is paramount.
So what does any of this have to do with white supremacy? I think if we attend carefully, put in place the processes and structures that enable and welcome change-- transparency, deliberation, experimentation, and listening. Listening, listening, listening, OK? We can de-center but not eliminate the space and the culture of white supremacy by valuing and respecting a wide range of other views.
And again, I want to repeat this. Respecting to me does not mean uncritical acceptance. Just because it's not white or something, then it's fine. But critical and constructive engagement with all and everything. That includes the traditional methods.
Now however, shorn of their immunity to criticism-- they've been immune to criticism because we just know they're the right ones, OK? It means the classroom is a space of learning is vigorous, experimental, and exciting.
And finally, some unasked for advice. Write out of love. Learn in places where there is joy and beauty, as well as places out of darkness and pain. Take care of yourself. You have a mind, a body, and a soul that's worth it, worth caring for and nurturing. So enjoy. Have a good year. Thank you.
Thank you, Karen. Thank you for those final words, for also your critical in both senses of that word comments. Just also, I mean, I'm watching the chat as you're all speaking.
And interestingly, as you ask questions about what makes our series possible, what's at stake in it for us, who gets to decide, I noticed comments about HDS's relationship to the divestment campaign. These are large questions for us, and ones that we need to keep asking and answering. And I'm grateful to the people in the chat who have asked those questions and who are asking the school for answers, and also for your comments, of course. Karen, thanks. So Professor Sanchez.
Thanks, Matt. And thanks to David too for organizing this and for inviting me to join this great panel and talk about an important topic about which there is far too much to say. So the questions that Matt gave us to address in seven to 10 minutes, which I'll aim for, are the issue of white supremacy in your area of teaching or research, and how it might bear on the study and practice of ministry.
So the issue of white supremacy in my area of teaching or research I would have to say is the issue. I teach Protestant Reformation and later Protestant Theologies in critical conversation with theories of the formation of the modern West and secularization. So there's a lot of overlap between the origin of Protestantism as a mode of Christianity and the coming of the Enlightenment and the coming of the goal of a secular society, liberalism. All of this is the arena in which contemporary American European white supremacy also emerged at the very same time.
1492, Columbus sails the ocean blue. 1492, Spain also expels Jews, which is a really important and often overlooked moment in sort of the-- I mean, I wouldn't want to say the beginning, but maybe the earlier decades of what would become the time of reform. In 14-- I think 52, you have Dum Diversas, which is the papal bull, which basically sanctions the king of Portugal to conquer non-Christians and subject them to perpetual servitude. These things are happening at the same time as the reformations.
And I am somewhat ashamed to say that in most of my educational formation up until, like, embarrassingly recently, I was not taught to and I did not of my own accord put these things together. So this reckoning is long overdue in my field, which is primarily the field of theology, but here's a little primer, especially for you incoming students. Theology as it exists as a kind of academic discipline is frequently divided into sort of three subsets, one of which is systematic, one of which is historical, and the other is constructive.
So one way of getting at this problem of how white supremacy haunts all of this field, but then somehow it's like the-- I don't know. It's even bigger than the elephant in the room. It's like the air you breathe and you never notice, or something like that.
You could look at systematics and say systematics are traditionally about trying to get the doctrinal teachings right and put them together in a compelling way. So you can see how that kind of effort might fail to pay attention to conditions on the ground and fail to ask questions about, who is doing the writing for whom, for what kind of audience? And one might hope that the historians would then come in and say, oh, you all are forgetting the historical context in which all of this abstract thinking is happening, which does happen.
But I think it's fair to say that historical theologians have been equally falling short in failing to recognize particularly matters having to do with race, religious minorities, religious disenfranchisement, racial disenfranchisement that haunt all of this. So when historical theologians make their critiques, usually it's about forgetting some sort of local context around which a debate happened or leaving out the interlocutors or failing to appreciate the extent to which a certain theologian may or may not have had a kind of modern category in mind that you're imposing on them.
Very rarely-- and I'm talking in sort of the last 100 years here, a broad sweep-- very rarely do you see somebody saying, we're not even asking questions about how these institutions got formed, who is given authority within them, who is comprising them. So yes, long overdue.
The third field of constructive theology is the place where things like race and gender and sexuality tend to crop up. But I know that I picked up very subconsciously for many years the idea that constructive theology was somehow less good. Like, less rigorous or something like that. They're not doing real systematics or they're not doing real historical theology.
And you still see giants in the field of theology saying this stuff as recently as last week, right? Or you know, last month. I mean, I won't name names, but there's been big conversations on Twitter about saying, oh, this identity theology is not real theology.
So I guess the question that I want to pose is, how do we change that, right? And I don't have the easy answer, certainly not in five more minutes. But what I want to suggest is that this change is not about merely inclusion. That's probably obvious to most of you. It's not about just adding people to the syllabus, people of color, women, et cetera.
It has something fundamentally to do with rethinking our very approach to the field methodologically. And I know that as I've come to realize this and have at least the inkling of some ideas about how to do this, I have benefited from reading and privileging and submitting myself to the authority of black and indigenous people of color authors within the field of theology who have been working relentlessly to be heard and to do this kind of good work. And people outside the field of theology, people working in black studies, people working in post-colonial studies, recent critical histories, which is something that I'm very interested in, this question of how history itself gets written.
And by the way, as I'm critiquing the field of theology, the other thing I do, which is secularization theory, it's extraordinarily rare even in that context to see anybody talk about colonization. You can read Hans Blumenberg's giant-- I am talking, like, a big book-- The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. And I've done a word search for the word colonialism, and it's not there. It's really astounding.
So it's a systemic problem, as we all know. Surprise, surprise. So what I want to do in my last couple of minutes is talk about how one might re-approach this field. And I want to talk about, I think, two tempting but I think less advisable methods for critiquing and rethinking theology, and then one that I want to recommend as an important way forward. I think this will lead me ultimately to the question of ministry and how ministry fits in with us.
So I'm going to start by just telling a brief story about my most recent thinking with this with some students. So this summer, a student actually that I met when I taught IMS a couple of years ago approached me about doing a reading and research, which she organized and helped lead. I don't know if she's out there today, because I can't see your wonderful faces. But if you are, hi, Toni. And it's on Christian supremacy and white supremacy. That was the topic.
So this came out of a question that as I've been making deliberate efforts to talk about white supremacy and race more explicitly in my classes, I often find students and myself who want to know, how can we read-- kind of the normal-- as some of my colleagues have said, that whiteness codes as normal, right? So how do we read the normal theology with an eye to how it can sort of-- is there something baked into it that leads to racial inequalities, that leads to hierarchies, and that leads to a posture, an attitude of supremacy in general?
And so if there's some way that there's a secret contagion built into theologies that replicates in these material ways, even though the theology itself may not mention, and often does not mention race or white supremacy at all. So we decided to ask this question about white supremacy, and particularly the idea of Christian supremacy.
And is all of Christianity inherently supremacist? Are there modes of Christian theology that are structurally more supremacist, that actually assert a kind of domination that has a totalizing effect on all systems of the world? And then therefore will, in a white supremacist world, end up replicating white supremacy?
And if that's the case, is Christian supremacy just the exact same thing as white supremacy? Or are they distinguishable? And if they're distinguishable, then to what extent is that a useful thing to do? Is there some way that we can distinguish them and then critique one and then critique the other? And is there a non-supremacist Christianity that might be salvageable at the end of this process?
So those are the kinds of questions that we started with. And very early, we ran into a lot of methodological problems like, for example, can you separate out explicit Christian supremacist writing from implicit? And you could ask the same question about white supremacists.
Do you read explicit white supremacist literature in order to better understand something like a presidential speech from 1956 to use a random example? Does that work? If you read the explicit stuff, does it help you understand the code of the implicit stuff?
We were skeptical as to whether that could work, because they're different registers. And this is kind of what I'm trying to get at is that what I'm trying to suggest is that what we need to do to actually rethink this field is rethink ourselves as holistic kinds of people. We are not just rational, detached brains that can analyze concepts and find the magical argument that's going to somehow end this system of violence.
And this is something that a lot of anti-racist educational literature that's come out in the last couple of years is also suggesting, that it's not about-- like, if I could just find the perfect argument or find the perfect outline of the bad thing and take it out, then we can have something that's holistic and healing and not violent anymore.
So basically, as we started to read theology, we began to question our search for arguments and the focus on that. Obviously, arguments are important, but we didn't want to do a limited search for the perfect kind of bad argument so that we could have a good argument or defeat it.
But then the other thing that came to the fore, which I really appreciated Cheryl's comments, because this is getting at the issue of trauma and the embodiment of racial trauma in particular and paranoia. So in some fields of queer theory, there's-- Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has this article on paranoid reading. And we realized that we were in danger of doing a paranoid reading, of reading these theological texts and just looking for, where's the really bad part so we can pull it out?
And if you do a paranoid reading-- I mean, I think there's some benefit to a moment of paranoia. But just like in life in general and community in general, you can't just give in to paranoia or you will become alone, and you won't have connections with people. So there's got to be another way to face up to these histories, to put together the historical side of theology, with the systematic side, with the constructive side with open eyes without succumbing to the kind of rationalized isolation of paranoia.
And the flipside of this that Sedgwick recommends is reparative readings. I would add to that that reparative readings come out of a posture that's attuned to the conditions of loss and melancholy and mourning. They're able to face up to these giant gaps that cause pain, that cause discomfort. And this will be read differently by people with different racial bodies, with different racialized backgrounds, with different economic backgrounds.
But to create a space where the act of reading theology not only looks for places where you can locate loss and absence and violence in these texts themselves, but then to be able to flip that back onto a holistic reading of the self that's reading theology. Theology is not just something that exists out there that I read with the executive function in my brain or something. It's something that is a two-way street. When I read it, it affects my body. And what kinds of affect am I bringing to that reading?
So I, again, don't have all the answers. But I've learned from people that I've been reading recently. Joseph Winters is an example. Also, I've been reading The Melancholy of Race by Anlin Cheng.
I think that there's a way to create a reading space where we bring in histories that aren't just the histories we've learned, although they are, but also the histories we've experienced and ask, what does theology do to respond to that? And how do we then as actors ourselves respond to those gaps in theology itself?
So theology, I think in short-- I'll use this as my summary-- theology is something that we make and it's something that we wear and we put on. And it changes with the different kinds of bodies that engage it. And I think that it's really important to recognize that it's something that will hurt when it doesn't fit right. And so part of the job of the reader and the teacher and the scholar is to make it fit right when it doesn't. So I'll leave it at that, and I look forward to questions. Thanks.
Thanks, Michelle. Again, the talks are all kind of cohering around questions of openness to loss and discomfort and to reckoning with a traumatic history. So thanks, Michelle. Professor Kane.
Thanks, Matt and David, for inviting me. I want to contribute to this panel by answering two questions which I hope will be relevant to our discussion. The first question is why I was recruited here at Harvard, and the second, how my research, teaching, and other community-based activities contribute to promote a better understanding of African Islam?
Why was I appointed to the professorship in this time in Africa at Harvard? The short answer is to limit the neglect of African Islamic studies. Since the 19th century when the Western academy became interested in the study of Islam, until the late 20th century, most Western Islamists have assumed that the Muslim world would broadly be divided into two zones, a center which is the Middle East, North African region, supposed to have a rich Islamic intellectual tradition, and a periphery including regions like sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, which was assumed to be marginal.
So until the turn of the 21st century, most scholars teaching Islam specialize in the MENA region, and 90% of all books published on Islam by a major university press dealt with North Africa and the Middle East. So Islamic studies was, to a large extent, Middle Eastern religious studies.
Yet in terms of demography, the Middle East, North Africa region represented only 20% of the global Muslim population. The remaining 80% of Muslims lived in either region.
In addition, although the Arabic language originates from the Arabian Peninsula, it has served as language of instruction and scholarship for non-Arab Muslims, Jews, and others since the beginning of the expansion of Islam in the 18th century. So non-Arabs, it must be noted, authored the majority of Arabic and Islamic texts, and just like other important languages such as English or French were adopted in the rest of the world. Today, for example, 54.7% of French speakers reside in Africa. So anybody who is interested in French studies should bear that in mind.
This now leads me to discuss how my position was created at Harvard. In the aftermath of September 11, Alwaleed bin Talal, a Saudi prince very much committed to promote understanding between Muslims and the West, endowed many centers and chairs in Europe and in the US to promote the study of Islam and also other centers in the Arab world to promote American studies in order to foster mutual understanding of Islam and the West.
At Harvard, Alwaleed bin Talal endowed several positions for the study of contemporary Islam. And to make sure that the Middle Eastern bias would be corrected and Islam would be studied in its diversity, the agreement between him and Harvard University was that only one of these positions will be devoted to the Middle East and North Africa, and the others to other regions of the Muslim world.
So I was appointed to one of those positions to promote the study of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially its intellectual history. In particular, the intellectual mission of my position was to contribute to the study of the contributions of black Africans to Islamic intellectual history.
So this required first and foremost deconstructing the thesis or the myth of the so-called black Islam. What is the thesis of black Islam? It posited a racial and geographical divide between the Christian-Arab rational Islam of North Africa and the Middle East and the magical, mystical black Islam in which illiterate sub-Saharan Africans worshipped wonder-workers.
In the last three decades, vast breaking works have been produced to discredit the thesis of black Islam, and some of these have been produced by Harvard graduates who now have become colleagues. A few more of our students are completing their doctoral work on African Islam and show promise to make greater contribution to Islamic studies and to continue to discredit the black Islam thesis.
Now in my own research, I have also contributed to this endeavor, including my book, Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa, which was published in 2016 and which shows that Timbuktu is famous as a center of Muslim learning from the Golden Age, yet it is only one among many scholarly centers that existed in pre-colonial West Africa.
Now in addition to my teaching and contribution in training doctoral students, I have also initiated a number of activities to promote a better understanding of Islam in Africa, including an annual conference on Islam in Africa. And four such conferences have already been convened in the Divinity School.
The first, Text, Knowledge, and Practice: The Meaning of Scholarship in Muslim Africa was convened in February 2017. The second, New Directions in the Study of Islamic Scholarship in Africa in October 2017. The third annual conference, West Africa in the Maghreb in September 2018. And the fourth, Africa Globalization in the Muslim World in 2019. And we are now in the process of planning the fifth conference.
Now why does Africa matter in the study of Islam, and indeed the Abraham faith? Because the center of gravity of those regions is now moving to Africa. At the beginning of the 20th century, the overwhelming majority of Christians and Muslims lived respectively in Europe and Asia.
According to historical estimates from the World Religion Database, there were 11 million Muslims and just seven million Christians in sub-Saharan Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1900 and 2010, the number of Christians soared almost 70-fold to 470 million, and the number of Muslims from an estimated 11 million in 1900 to 234 million in 2010, just south of the Sahara.
Now if we add Muslims of North Africa, we reach a number close to that of Christian in the continent. And now roughly, adherents of Islam and Christianity are estimated at nearly 500 million each in the African continent. And looking ahead, Islam and Christianity will continue to grow faster in sub-Saharan Africa than in any other region of the world.
Now the shift in the regional concentration of the global Christian population is driven by a combination of factors, including fertility, age, migration, et cetera. And by 2060, it's estimated that 40% of all Christians will be from Africa south of the Sahara from 26% in 2015.
Now as far as Islam is concerned, it is estimated that by 2050, the number of Muslims worldwide will grow from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.76 billion, almost 30% of the world population. The share of the world's Muslims who live in sub-Saharan Africa will increase from 15% in 2010 to 24.2%. And Asia, which is currently home to more of the world Muslim population, 61% now, will continue to host a majority of the world's Muslims, albeit with a smaller share, only 52%.
Now it's not just a number that we can evaluate this global shift of religion, but it is also in commitment. In 2010, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Templeton Foundation conducted a major public opinion survey involving more than 25,000 interviews in 19 languages. And one of the findings is that sub-Saharan Africa is the most religious region in the world in terms of people-- how important is religion in the life of these people?
Now another hat that I wear at Harvard Divinity School, as Matthew kindly said at the beginning, is that I am the denominational counselor for Muslim students. And as such, I have been hosting a worship and study circle outside campus for the last several years in which I expose participants to the African now global tradition of Sufism. I also invite chaplains and imams as well as academics who published new and pathbreaking books on Islam in Africa to speak to our community, which includes graduate and undergraduate postdocs, and even some Muslim faculty to learn about African Islam and why it's important for them to know about African Islam.
Because black Muslims routinely experience racial prejudice from other Muslims and Imam and Muslim leaders. Race often leads this issue in Muslim communities. And the reason is that they don't know much about African Islam, because they were raised in families that know very little about African Islam, and have many wrong assumptions about it.
So in our study, in worship circles, we try to expose students to African Islam in order to correct those misunderstandings. So I think that I will stop here my comments, and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Thank you, Ousmane, for your words and for showing how racism backs both scholarly and religious communities on the ground. So we have about 40 minutes left for this session. There have been some comments in the chat, but I think I may have missed some.
So I think the most efficient way to get questions asked and answered is if you asked a question in the chat and would like to ask it, please raise your hand if you'd like to speak out loud. Or write it in the question, the Q&A box, and I can read it for you. Or if you did not write a question in the chat but would like to ask question now, you can raise your hand or write it in the Q&A box.
So we had one question that was in the Q&A box. And I think this was actually submitted while you were talking, Cheryl. You're asked if you could unpack the white-- the trauma on the white body that I think you were taking from Resmaa Menakem. You can unmute yourself, I think, if you'd like, and answer just what you mean by white body trauma.
So what I'm referring to is a kind of detachment that many white people struggle with in terms of understanding white privilege and white supremacy. It's almost like it's another terrestrial form. There's a disconnect between themselves and the experience of trauma. I think Michelle said something-- I wrote this down, because I thought this was fabulous. White supremacy is that, yeah, you breathe and never notice. And that's the power of trauma, how trauma is embodied for all of us. Our experiences our intergenerational, family generational trauma or experience over the years.
If you want to do some more reading on this, read Menakem's book. But also, take a look at epigenetics. And it talks about how DNA material is inherited and passed on through generations without us having any control or investment in it or any ability to make that happen.
So let's see. What's an example of it? So OK. I'll give an example from a book that I just wrote. It's coming out on December 8. This is a good way to sort of advertise the book, I guess. The book is Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom.
I wrote a chapter-- when I started writing this chapter, it was about trauma. And there were about seven or eight of us that are writing about how we came to Buddhism and what influenced it. And for me, the influence was feeling the ongoing racism and oppression in my daily living. School, everywhere I went.
And showing up in white spaces because my parents thought-- they were working class. They thought that was a good place for me to be to get ahead. And while I did get ahead in some ways, but tremendous isolation, tremendous lack of self-confidence, tremendous inability to make--to dot the lines from watching Martin Luther King and some of the other civil rights activists getting hosed down by Bull Connor in the '60s to understanding what impact that had on my ability to even attend a white school.
So I guess in this book, I write about how my mother's early experience of trauma was really difficult for her back in the '30s, and that it never was dealt with, and it got passed on to my sister and me. And you can read the article. But it basically has to do with a sexual assault she experienced in the '30s. Nobody ever was talking about that in the '30s. Actually, I know quite a few older women who have actually had that experience, and people still are reticent to talk about that today.
But that's not anything I looked for, wanted. And my sister's much older than me. That thread, that tiny little thread is passed through all of us in which this whole-- this clustering around really reactions to a sense of harm, a sense of sort of proclivity to be depressed. And so this is very subtle, which is why I think the field of epigenetics is just so powerful in terms of what's transmitted through DNA. It has nothing to do with what you're able to control or not control. It's just there.
And so then our task is, how do we work out of that? How do we work to heal ourselves? And it involves a lot of different things. So Resmaa has-- Menakem has one idea. And then if you're interested in this, you can take a look at Internal Family Systems, IFS, which also talks about the parts of us, those parts that show up from that inherited gene that pop up.
So what I want to underscore-- and I'll stop talking, because there are other questions-- is I think for white people, accepting that there is white body trauma is just significant. I mean, I've had a lot of students over the years and they say, well, you know, I haven't done anything. I didn't bring this on. This is not my problem. This is my parents' problem.
I mean, the point is-- and this is really a legitimate, evidence-based field, that this does in fact happen. That you inherited-- not of your doing-- the construct of whiteness and all the privileges and the dominance and power that goes along with that.
So the task is, how do you undo that? And the first thing is really having awareness that you actually have it, and beginning to do some-- it's a lot of internal work, but it's not something that you start and stop. You have to make a commitment to really doing. I hope that answered your question.
Could I jump in on this question as well and just give a kind of personal testimony about what the trauma in the white body might mean? So I think there's a particular kind of trauma that, as Cheryl was saying, is carried intergenerationally in white settler families.
So in my own family history, there've been three separate moments-- once in the 17th century, once after the US Revolution, and once in the late 19th century-- where my ancestors moved onto stolen land, and in some cases, exploited that land using stolen labor. And that meant disrupting both the rootedness in land that was deeply familiar, that we had grown up symbiotically with, and disruption of the capacity to do our own work.
And because all sorts of economic privileges stemmed from the appropriation of the settler experience, I think when we white people think about doing anti-racist work, undoing white supremacy, it can feel like we're giving up privileges and being left with a void because we've been alienated from land that we would truly at home in, and alienated from our own physical labor. So I think a lot of the healing there has to do with learning to care deeply for particular places.
And of course, it's always important to remember that the trauma of appropriating land and labor is tied up with privilege. You know, whereas people of African descent in this country lost their homeland in the same way, but did not get the privilege. So you know, there's no kind of equation here. But I think the healing work does involve finding ways to be rooted in ecological care for places and responsible to embodied labor.
Thanks, Dan. So James Lewis, I think, had his hand up first. And James, if you're there, I'm going to allow you to talk so you can ask your question live.
Yes, thank you very much. I enjoyed reading the book that has been referenced several times, particularly as it relates to the trauma that's been discussed quite a bit that occurs in all bodies.
But my question is with a situation where white individuals begin to hear this explanation of trauma and how the trauma actually leads to the imposition of trauma on other bodies, black bodies in particular, isn't there a risk that that could go a long way toward basically absolving them in their own minds?
We seem to be as a culture, as an American culture, pretty lazy. And not many of us are going to, I think, go through these steps of trying to create more space so that we can deal with the trauma. But rather, I fear that many may say, well, it's not my fault. I too am a victim. So there you are. Is that a real concern that some people are having?
Thank you, James. Anyone want to respond?
Good point, but I'm going to step back and let somebody else answer.
I have one thought, which is a little bit oblique. But while Cheryl and then Dan were talking about the last question, I was thinking another intersectional layer, I would add, is patriarchy, masculinity, and the way that, especially among-- I mean, my people, I guess, are kind of Irish, German immigrants who settled in some way, but they never really owned much until recently.
But I've seen in people I know, and especially a certain demographic of kind of middle-aged white men who are descended from maybe first generation, second generation immigrants, a kind of reference to authoritarian father figure who inculcated in them that success meant the whole bootstrap thing and achieving a certain kind of wealth, achieving a certain kind of property and dominance over others, and showing that you weren't like the other, you know? Which is usually the black or the racialized brown figure.
So addressing trauma in an actually healing way means pinpointing that, the cause of that trauma, and learning to recognize it for what it is, which is a form of violence that does victimize the subject, but then also makes that subject no longer hopefully perpetuate that. And to recognize the father figure instead of the lordly figure that I've wanted to please and all of my honor is wrapped up in that, to recognize that as the problem and reject that, and then find a solidarity with other people that's not based on sameness, but it's based at least on the experience of rejecting this pattern of trauma.
Yeah, if I could jump in as well, I think one of the things that white people need to really take on and understand is that privilege rarely feels like privilege, because all structures of oppression are kind of contingent and fragile. So if you have privilege, you're always kind of conscious of the potential of losing it. So if you don't feel privileged, that's not an excuse to not do the work of undoing the privilege.
Feeling like the privileges you have are shaky is precisely a reminder, oh, OK. I am one of the people that needs to do this work of undoing my privilege and of using my privilege towards the larger cause. And it certainly doesn't involve telling trauma stories for the sake of getting anybody else to feel sorry for us. It's just to clarify for ourselves what the work is of beginning to tell a new story.
Thanks, Dan. So I'm going to read a question here from Nathan Samayo, which I believe was also in the chat. For the panelists, do you think that healing from bodily trauma and generational trauma created from systemic racism should be prioritized over social and political action? Or should they equally/concurrently be addressed? I understand that they are not completely mutually exclusive, so I'm wondering this. And then he refers to this book that we've talked about, My Grandmother's Hands, which seems to prioritize healing over action.
And I wanted to-- yeah, I think, Nathan, I'm also curious what you all think about, what's the relationship between these things? Political and social action and individual and personal healing.
So I'll respond to that by saying that-- and pick up on Michelle's last point about violence and body. I think that the violence that we see-- social activism is really important, but I think that it can't be driven by internalized violence to the white body or the black body.
It has to really be-- I think about really putting both of those things together, that healing and transforming what we know as white supremacy and the dominance over us, it has to be that we're trying to eradicate that and that it can't-- let me just-- we can't just work out of an activist position. We have to have a core of healing and a practice around healing that's going to really motivate us to really help transform all of humanity. Because then outside of that, it becomes kind of an isolated fight.
And I think sometimes with the kind of protests that have happened, it's easy to lose sight of what you're trying to achieve and to be in it for the long game, you know? The sustainable kind of protests that we need. The sustainable action to create justice requires work.
And so I guess what I fear, what concerns me is that we find ourselves in this place and then people think, OK. I don't, like James, or somebody else mentioned, you know, this is a lot of work. Yes, it is a lot of work. But my nickel is on doing the internal work, the spiritual formation around transforming and healing as a process to undo white supremacy and systematic racism.
I think without it, we can't do it. And I think we're still at this point after 400 years, because we haven't been willing to do the work in a concerted, sustainable way. And I'm not saying everybody else-- I'm in it too in terms of really trying to work at this concerted effort.
So I'll tell you quickly two things that I've done. One thing is that I'm on Zoom a lot, and so there is some good things that have come out of the pandemic. I'm on Zoom a lot with Black teachers, Buddhist teachers, and leaders from around the country, talking about practices, sustainable practices, practicing together, meditation, and talking about what we need to do creating other forms of figuring out how to disperse money, because we've had access to some benefactors that have said, hey, we want to support Black Lives Matter projects in certain areas.
Second thing I've done is even though I'm on sabbatical, I've committed to a 14-month intensive trauma training on training the trainer, which I hope to bring back to the Divinity School and do with students next year. And there are a couple of divinity schools that are part of this project too, Thomas Maridada and Will Guild.
And the idea is it's a social resilience model, and the idea is to really-- we can do this in sort of group-- we're in a group. We can do this in a number of different ways. But it's to help people really get beyond-- the resilience is one piece, but get beyond the resilience so that you can really move and transform whatever communities and structures or organizations that you're working in.
But I think we only can do this work if we work together. It has to be some sort of really sustained, committed work that we do together in a community. And maybe our community is small at HDS, but maybe even breaking it up into smaller pieces where people make a commitment to work with each other around this throughout the year.
I always agree with what Cheryl says, because she's always right. So I want to emphasize that. At the same time, my own experience has been that the two are so intertwined it's sort of hard-- it makes it a hard question to answer. And I think we have to have both. We have to have action, because action is what we do bodily. And that bodily action that we do as activists transforms the interior life, OK?
At the same time that part of the damage, an extensive amount of the damage that's done is because of the structural, institutionalized racism and white supremacy stuff out there. And if we don't change it, the harm continues to be done, and we continue to be soaked in it.
So they belong together. They belong together. And different people are going to need to do different pieces of that work at different times. They're going to be better at different parts of it than others. And to be allied with people who are doing all of the work seems to me to be extremely important.
But if we ignore, if we just do social activism and ignore that important interior work or just do the interior work and say, oh, well, once at the end of that, then the structures will take care of themselves, I think that's not right, because we are bodies who act in the world. And so those two go together for me. Thank you.
You know, I think-- oh-- go ahead, Cheryl.
Can I just add one quick thing? Matt?
Yeah, please. Sorry. Go ahead. Yeah. Sorry.
So one of the things in terms of culture I think is going to be important this year at HDS is to try to create some brave spaces. This comes from Micky ScottBey who came up with sort of a structure, a container for these kinds of conversations. And there aren't really safe spaces, but there are brave spaces.
And in the brave spaces, we can create a kind of acceptance, openness, a willingness to hear each other and not be PC. So you know, Politically Correct, that we can kind of bring our concerns within there. So I think creating containers is going to be really important in terms of what happens this year in doing this work. That's all I want to say. Thank you.
I think this balancing act that we're talking about is very parallel to the balance between the work we do in transforming our own community as HDS and the work we do in supporting efforts to confront white supremacy in the larger society. And you know, Karen said that oftentimes the two go hand in hand.
And the issue of prison divestment that many of you have been raising in the chat is just a perfect example of a place where the internal work comes together with the external work. Because it turns out, we as a community are deeply implicated in one of the big evils of white supremacy that might seem to be outside of us.
And in quick answer to the question of what HDS has done, I know that many of us on the faculty as individuals have signed petitions putting ourselves on record for prison divestment. And I know that many, many HDS students have been in the leadership of those organizations.
But I think there's a big open question about whether there's more we could do to act collectively and not simply as sets of individuals. Especially on the faculty side, there's more we can do.
Thanks, Dan. And thanks for bringing us back to that important comment in the chat. So Ella Hartley, I'll read her question. Thank you all for your thoughts, time, and labor today. How have you all planned to interrupt white supremacy, culture, and microaggressions, et cetera, in your classes this year?
Well, I kind of thought that's what I was doing in my talk, OK? As a way to talk about how changing pedagogy really works. I'm not actually teaching in the fall, so I am going to spend a lot of the fall term thinking about the ways in which the reading I have been doing about anti-racism work and white supremacy can work in the classroom, and also about how our distance learning techniques that we're all learning could actually be used in much better ways to create different kinds of space, you know?
But also working around different cultural kinds of material. So it's really taking this technique that is being introduced by my colleagues in minority biblical criticism and seeing what happens here at school. But students in the past have already noticed that it makes space. It makes place. And we'll see what happens. So, there's never a good answer, but yes.
Thanks, Karen. Yeah, Dan, please.
Yeah, one of the things that I do is I put into my syllabi a counter oppression policy that basically states both that we as a class have a shared responsibility to create the space for everyone's voice to be fully heard, and that I as a professor have some special responsibilities to make sure that the structure of the readings and so forth are truly welcoming of the full diversity of the participants.
And the reason I put it in the syllabus is to let people know that when they see a microaggression or problematic dynamic, they are empowered, invited to bring it to the attention of the whole class or to the attention of me personally, you know, depending on the particular flavor of the incident and who bears primary responsibility for addressing it.
And some of you in this audience I know have been in a previous class where we did really work through that whole process where something happened and a particular student had the courage to say, hey. This is in violation of our counter oppression policy. Let's spend some real class time working through it.
Thanks, Dan. You know, I know I'm not a panelist, but if I could just say, I really appreciate your language in your question about interrupting white supremacy. The question assumes that, as many of our panelists have said, that white supremacy is the language we speak already, and it needs to be interrupted.
And so one thing I'm doing, you know, as I said, this class or this meeting today is taking place at the first IMS class. One of the reasons we're having this meeting instead of the first IMS class is to interrupt white supremacy. It's also why in the past our class-- you know, Harvard started as a school for ministers. The program started as a school for ministers. And so we have traditionally in IMS tied our meeting as Introduction to Ministry Studies to that history of Harvard's founding.
And this year, we're going to start in other places. We're going to start with Resmaa Menakem and a discussion about white supremacy. We're going to start with the Wampanoag peoples and the people who were here before the Puritans arrived, and talk about the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, which happens just down the road from me here on Cape Cod.
So those are some of the structural or, I guess, organizational things that Dan was saying. But I think all of us are hopeful to also invite students to speak up and to support students in counter oppression policies and practices in our courses. Any others?
From the framework of theology, one thing I've tried to do, I guess apropos to the things I said earlier, a concrete example is I teach this course that I taught last semester I'm not teaching this year, by the way, so this is from last semester. But I teach Calvin, Schleiermacher, Barth, and Cone. And I know Cone's going to be at the end for chronological reasons.
But one of the things I try to do to anticipate the kinds of microaggressions that inevitably come out when we get to Cone is emphasize all along the way that the first three authors we're reading, who are widely considered canonical giants of Protestant theology, are individuals with political concerns who are writing in many cases for their particular community and who are deploying theology in a way that's responsive to those concrete concerns.
So when we get to Cone and you get the inevitable comments about, oh, this is just for black people, this isn't real universal Christianity or something like that, we have a track record to say, no. All along the way, these were particular projects that were deployed for particular purposes, and that is what theology is.
And then the only other thing I would add to that is I especially try to signal support to students of color, and any student who wants to-- who is willing to be brave and sort of claim their place in this tradition antagonistically or in a complicated way. But to show them that I've got their back if they want to do that. Obviously, I can't ask those students to take on the labor of the course. But I try to demonstrate that and then support it when it happens.
But you know, that's a start. There's always more. And I have learned so much. I just want to say, I've learned so much over the years from my students so for you students out there. Keep pushing your professors.
Yeah, thanks. Thanks. I want to second that as well. I was looking, for reasons that are important here, I was looking at some syllabi from my first year teaching, and I'm frankly embarrassed by them. And it's because of the students. And they're teaching me over the past seven years that I have that kind of cringe when I see those old syllabi.
So this is a question from an anonymous attendee. How does HDS's system of grading students perpetuate white supremacy? Will you address the role of power? And what's the premise's impact on the grading system? What efforts have been taken to address white supremacy with grades and the grade appeal process? Any responses?
Since I inserted myself as a panelist, a quasi panelist already, I'll just say quickly I think one thing I do in my courses-- this is kind of an oblique answer to your very direct question, so you can-- I may deserve some discredit for this.
But one of the things I do in many other classes, especially for students for whom this is a terminal degree, for whom the end date is a terminal degree, is-- and this, again, I learned from students is that as Karen was saying in her comments, kind of Western academic knowledge or knowledge production, Western knowledge production as we understand it is itself a norm of European provincialism, right?
And so if students want to propose to me other projects than an academic paper, I'm so excited about those, right? And if they want to propose different methods and standards and rubrics by which those alternative projects might be graded, I'm very excited about those as well. And I think I'm not alone in the faculty in that.
And again, as I said, especially for students for whom the degree is a terminal degree and what they need-- as Karen was saying, what they need from this place is to ask the questions they want to ask in the way they want to ask them. And I see my own role as a teacher in helping students ask those questions in the way they want to ask them and get the feedback that they need on the answers they come up with. But are there others who want to respond to this question about grading? OK. Well, I saw a lot of nodding heads when I was speaking. OK, go ahead. Go ahead, Dan.
I'll give it a little bit of a try. I'm acutely aware of my own hypocrisy whenever this issue comes up, and perhaps the hypocrisy is also an awareness that there are many dimensions to it, and it's really complicated.
But at the end of the day, the primary function of grades is to put people in a rank order. And the only reason you would really want to put people in a rank order is if you had some scarce goods and you wanted to make sure those were retained by a small subset of the larger community.
If we really saw ourselves as involved in a common enterprise of galvanizing everyone's best gifts for the good of all of us, we would not need to rank ourselves. We would just need to name our diverse gifts using qualitative rather than quantitative language. But if we really believed this, we would not choose to devote a $30 billion endowment to the education of a relative handful of people, but would see the education of all of us globally as of equal value to our future well-being.
Thanks, Dan. So Jordan V., they ask, what our ways you see some of these sustainable healing practices rising up alongside community care? Do you think it's a realistic hope to use these tools as a way to bring together communities on a large global scale?
Well, I mean, the answer to that is yes. And let me just give a shout-out to Melissa Bartholomew who is the Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. And Melissa knows this stuff well. And I'm so happy that at a time like this, she is joining us. We're really fortunate to have her lead us and really beginning to look at some of these things, and create sustainable ways.
She's done this in many different places. BC Law School, BC School of Social Work, HDS, Harvard Law School. And her presence, actually, it's going to be a witness to our ability to stay focused and stay working on this. I mean, she is just an incredible leader. And it will take students joining her in helping to make our culture at HDS sustainable in the practices that we do.
I think there are a little things that we can do in classes. I think, for example, Matt's last comment about doing projects, I've been doing this for a while. We need to have some parameters around that, but it's a great way to really kind of open up how students learn and see what they can do with the project or some other way.
One thing that the school has done is over the years, everybody had to write a thesis. Now that's no longer the case. That's gained momentum and become a policy now so that students have some choice about how they can pull together the work that they're doing.
So I feel like we are moving in the right direction, but we can't do this alone, and it can't be you're in and you're out, you're in and you're out. If you are really, really committed to change the way things are in the world, then make sure you're in the right places this year. I mean, unfortunately, we can't be in the same physical space. That's really unfortunate, because I think some of the practices that we could do is noon service. That's an opportunity. We have also all sorts of community gatherings that we can partake in.
But we have to make Zoom work and really support each other around transformation. And we can begin just by paying attention. Paying attention and paying attention to what's happening inside you, and where you-- my father would say, where you lay your shoes. Where are you going to put your shoes, you know? Where are you going to really make a commitment to stay with what's happening in terms of the transformation project that we're trying to build this year? So that's all I can say about that.
Thanks, Cheryl. And I'll just add one comment as well. And this is-- Dan and I talked about this in the class that Mayra visited last year. But Jordan asks, do you think it's a realistic hope? I want to ask what's at stake in the idea of a realistic hope, right? Is the opposite of hope pessimism like it's not going to turn out well? Or is the opposite of hope despair?
And I think if the opposite of hope is despair, then it's not whether or not we realistically think that in our lifetime we can build these large communities. It's whether the alternative to that effort is to give up and despair, right? And to me, that just seems-- I share your skepticism, Jordan, about how realistic is it to accomplish these goals, but it seems like it's the only thing worth doing.
This is a lifelong goal, right?
This is a lifelong goal. Yeah.
Yeah. So I've realized I've been neglecting the raised hands function. So Tamara, or Tamera, I'm sorry if I've been ignoring you for too long. If you still have your question, I think we have time for one more, and I can allow you to talk now if you'd like.
Yeah, hi. Hello, everyone. Can you hear me? Oh, I-- yep. You can Great. I was really struck by Professor Giles' comment that we needed a lot more to do than reading and learning and continuing in what we're doing.
I was also really struck by Professor McKanan's observation that we at HDS have not experienced a crisis yet. Many of us can acknowledge that we have a long way to go and we all have a lot of work to do and that we need to change, but there is so much at stake. And we all know how difficult it can be to go up against authority. So how do we, especially those white people who hold power, create spaces amongst ourselves to openly challenge the way things are in ways that do not endanger the embodiment of those in the margins? Thank you.
Yeah, I have one. Unfortunately, I'm talking too much. I feel like I'm talking too much, but let me just say one thing. I know there is maybe an urge or a drive to sort of get out in the street and change the world, but let me just say this, and I'll say it in plain street talk. Check yourself. Check yourself.
The urge is to, let's run out and join the march. You can be out there, but make sure you're checking yourself at the same time. Have you done the work? Have you done your own work? Have you checked your biases, your microaggressions? Are you on them all the time? Right? We don't need you out in the street if you haven't done your work. It takes both of those things to be out in the street. Otherwise, you're showing up, but you're not really bringing the full package.
Change happens. It happens slowly, and I know you want it to happen fast. Most of us that are black have been living in this space for a long time. In my case, 66 years. I was aware of the racism maybe at five years old, right?
Check yourself. I'm checking myself. I'm checking myself around not getting too angry and not wanting to listen to white people. I work on this every day. I worked on this before I got into this conversation. There's a weariness that comes with this, but Matt is right, and the other person that brought this up. Hopefulness. This is about hope, right?
So my thing is, OK. You might want to fight big corporations at HDS and change HDS. In order to change HDS, begin by trying to change yourself at the same time.
Thank you, Cheryl. Any final words in response to this question or in general? OK. Well, it's 5:01, which, I've kept you one minute past your allotted time. Thank you so much to our panelists, especially-- I didn't realize some of you-- I knew Cheryl was, but I didn't realize so many of you were coming off sabbatical to participate in this event. But I'm glad you did, and I'm glad for your words and for your wisdom today.
Thank you to all our attendees and to all of you who asked questions. This will be recorded and we'll post it at some point after we work with IT to get it in a state that can be posted. And if you have further questions, please-- I know that all of us have email addresses, the HDS website. Please reach out to folks.
Also, if anyone feels like they need to process this talk for any reason with anybody, our new dean, Melissa Bartholomew, has offered herself to speak with any students who may need to process some of this content or some of the things you heard today. Or for whatever reason, if you'd like to speak with Dean Bartholomew, she has made herself available. And please do reach out to her, because as Cheryl said, we're lucky to have her, and we're glad to have her with us.
Thank you, Matt. Thank you, David.
Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Best of luck in the new term.