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To solve the hidden epidemic of teen hunger, we should listen to teens who experience it

Stephanie C. Boddie, PhD.

(The Conversation) For many young people, the toughest choice they will ever have to make about food is what to eat at home or what to choose from a menu.

But for Texas high schoolers Tamiya, Juliana, Trisha, Cara and Kristen, the choices they have to make about food are more difficult. For them, the conversation is less about food and more about how to put food on the table.

“It’s kind of hard because like, I know I’m young, and my momma don’t want me to get a job, but it’s really helping out,” Kristin told us for a 2019 study regarding her decision to work as a waitress at a fast food chain. “Because basically, my check is paying for the food we’re going to eat … the tips I made today are what we ate off of.”

Such stories are part of a hidden epidemic that I – a social work scholar – and one of my students, Ana O’Quin, investigated for a recent study about food insecurity among America’s teenagers. Food insecurity, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, means limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods. It also means the inability to acquire foods without resorting to socially unacceptable means, such as stealing or transactional dating.

The consequences of food insecurity follow teens into the classroom and even reduce their chances of graduation.

According to the most recent federal estimates, 37 million people live in food-insecure households. This includes nearly 7 million young people who are 10 to 17 years old.

The problem of food insecurity is particularly pronounced among African Americans, who collectively are twice as likely as whites to experience food insecurity.

Teenagers took pictures of their meals to show researchers the quality of their food options. Author provided

Going without

Teens in these households are more likely to skip meals or not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food. Some teens drink water, eat junk food or go to sleep instead of eating a meal.

“Most parents will feed you before they feed themselves,” Trisha told us. “When food stamps first come, Mamma cooks a lot. But like a week later, it’s nothing. Maybe cereal, or noodles, sandwiches.”

Juliana added, “We used to always buy rice, because you can buy a lot of it, and it’s cheap. You can buy Spam and rice and that would be the whole meal for the rest of the week.”

While many teens rely on their parents and guardians well into adulthood, we found that these teens rely on themselves before they even become adults. Julianna says she started babysitting at about the age of 12 to help put food on the table.

“Whatever money I would get from that, I would give it to my mamma,” Julianna said.

It’s not uncommon for teens to sacrifice to make sure their mother eats.

For instance, Kristin told us that her thinking goes like this: “I know your health is worse than mine. So mamma make sure you eat. I don’t care … I can scrounge up some food at school.”

Taking risks to eat

The teens we spoke with shared how peers engage in risky behaviors that have long-term consequences. Out of desperation, some teens – rarely but still too often – find themselves shoplifting, stealing, transactional dating, “trading sex” for food or selling drugs to access food. “Stealing is the main thing,” said Cara.

Health impact

Teens typically experience a growth spurt and need more food during adolescence. Without adequate nutrition, teens often experience the short-term effects of food insecurity, such as stomach aches, headaches and low energy. Teens in our study mentioned having a difficult time focusing in class or even staying awake during school.

Food insecurity can result in long-term effects in the following areas:

Physical health conditions, like asthma, anemia, obesity and diabetes.

Mental and behavioral health including anxiety, depression, difficulty getting along with peers, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts.

Cognitive health such as slower learning rates and lower math and reading scores.

What can be done?

These teens live in households eligible to receive free and reduced breakfast and lunch and food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the U.S. government’s largest anti-hunger program, which served 40 million in 2018.

Eligible families receive an electronic benefit transfer of funds each month to purchase food, on average US$1.39 per meal.

Teens from our study said they preferred electronic benefit transfer over the stigma of going to a food pantry or other public place to receive food. To address the hidden epidemic of teen food insecurity and its consequences, the teens first suggested increasing food stamp benefits to provide the extra food growing teens need.

The teens in our study also suggested:

• Encouraging teens to participate in school sports or afterschool programs like The Cove or the Boys and Girls Clubs where meals are served.

• Recommending that restaurants participate in food rescue programs like Cultivate that prepare weekend meals for schoolchildren.

• Cultivating gardens at schools or in the community through organizations like 4-H clubs, university extension programs and the Food Project.

• Developing job training programs like the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative to help teens gain skills to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Employment desires

Teens like Kristin prefer to work to help put food on the table. While research shows there are benefits of teens working to provide food for their families, it also highlights the trade-offs such as students abandoning school for work.

Young people who experience food insecurity bring a keen awareness to this challenge. It’s time for people who can do something about the problem to listen to what they have to say.

National reconciliation without accountability rings hollow

By R. Drew Smith, Sojourners, October 21, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, Nelson Mandela was elected South African president after serving 27 years in prison for leading resistance against racially-oppressive apartheid rule. During that same moment in April of 1994, a horrible tragedy was unfolding further north on the African continent as longstanding ethnic grievances within Rwanda irrupted into a spate of genocidal violence that took the lives of approximately one million Rwandans.

With 1994 signaling new beginnings within South Africa and social catastrophe within Rwanda, it certainly seemed at the time that South Africa was on better footing than Rwanda to address deep-seated conflict within its context.

But 25 years later, Rwanda has far outpaced South Africa in its progress toward social healing and unity, due in no small part to the breadth of the Rwandan people’s commitment to accounting for the atrocities of 1994.

Rwanda’s several months of massive violence were quickly followed by the November 1994 creation of an International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established through a United Nations Security Council resolution. By the time ICTR closed its work in December 2015, it had prosecuted 93 persons and sentenced 61, including the former prime minister, Defense Ministry chief of staff, and Army chief of staff.

Nonetheless, the ICTR was widely criticized, especially for prosecuting so few people at such a high operating cost (more than $2 billion), and for its bureaucracy, elongated trials, and lack of attention to reparations.

With hundreds of thousands of genocide suspects imprisoned and awaiting trial, and with ICTR jurisprudence supplemented mainly by conventional Rwandan courts that had tried only 1,292 genocide suspects by 1998, the Rwandan government turned to a traditional system of community-based courts with deep roots in Rwandan culture. Historically, these traditional courts, known as gacaca, utilized local elders in resolving minor civil disputes related mainly to matters pertaining to property, inheritance, and marital relations.

By 2005, the Rwandan government established a network of more than 12,000 of these gacaca courts that presided over almost two million genocide-related cases through 2012, with 65 percent resulting in conviction. Sentences ranged from extended jail time with hard labor to release back into communities to assist with the rebuilding process. Critics have pointed out however that gacaca courts fell “well short of international legal standards,” particularly with respect to the training and impartiality of judges and access by defendants to legal representation. Nevertheless, details derived from court testimonies provided many Rwandans, individually and collectively, with information about the genocide that proved critical to closure and moving forward.

South Africa also initiated a national truth-telling process with the 1995 launching of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC, established by an Act of Parliament and chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, centered upon detailing apartheid-era human rights violations through public testimony from victims and perpetrators. Testimonies received in these often-televised hearings were to provide a basis for charges against perpetrators, amnesty for the perpetrators who fully disclosed their crimes, and reparations and rehabilitation for victims.

By the time TRC concluded its work in 2002, more than 2,000 persons had testified before the Commission and more than 7,000 persons had petitioned for amnesty. Although only 849 persons succeeded in their amnesty petitions, the vast majority of those denied amnesty were never tried for their offences.

The TRC was roundly criticized for permitting so few grievances to be heard and for facilitating a national process where apologies from perpetrators — aimed at eliciting forgiveness from victims — seemingly served as substitutes for accountability.

Insistence on accountability for wrongdoing was responded to through varying degrees of commitment by the Rwandan and South African governments to reparations for victims. In South Africa, President Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, authorized a one-off $4,000 payment to 18,000 persons who had applied for reparations. In Rwanda, the post-genocide government established a Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund in 1996 to which it committed a six percent allocation from the annual national budget while also requiring a one percent contribution of gross annual salary from every public sector and private sector employee through 2008.

For all the good accomplished in the two countries’ efforts to account for the past, there were obvious limitations within each national approach, and noticeable differences between the two countries in the extent of testimony-gathering, punishment for crimes, and reparations to victims.

Not surprisingly, the wider scale and scope of Rwanda’s efforts compared to South Africa’s fueled greater confidence among Rwandans than South Africans in their nation’s ability to overcome its past.

According to a Reconciliation Barometer survey administered in South Africa in 2017, and in Rwanda in 2015, there was quite a contrast between the two countries in how citizens viewed reconciliation efforts. Ninety-six percent of Rwandans but only 56 percent of South Africans indicated their nation had made good progress toward reconciliation. Eighty-five percent of Rwandans but only 47 percent of South Africans reported they or persons close to them had personally experienced reconciliation.

Specific to economic metrics, 88 percent of Rwandans felt property looted or destroyed during the genocide had been compensated, while 70 percent of South Africans viewed black poverty and landlessness alongside white wealth as enduring effects of apartheid, Also, 62 percent of South Africans felt reconciliation to be “impossible as long as people disadvantaged under apartheid continue to be poor.”

Although achievement of unity and common cause relies on many factors, it is important to note 95 percent of Rwandans as compared to 78 percent of South Africans said their national identity was an important part of how they see themselves. Moreover, 94 percent of Rwandan respondents agreed with the statement, “Rwandans are now committed to fight … against anything that may cause again divisions and genocide,” compared to 68 percent of South Africans who believed it possible “to create one united South African nation” out of all its different groups.

Rwanda and South Africa have overcome much since 1994. Nevertheless, the variances between the two in accounting for wrongdoing and in facilitating social healing seem instructive to anyone concerned with peace.

R. Drew Smith, Ph.D. is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race. He can be followed on Twitter @RDrewSmith1

A visit to the Hekima university college chapel during the TRRR conference

By: Faith Ondeng | faith.ondeng@hekima.ac.ke

TRRR delegates in front of Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Reliations

The 8th Transatlantic Round table Conference on Religion and Race (TRRR) was convened in Nairobi, Kenya, at Hekima Institute of peace studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). Hekima is a Christian and Jesuit Institution that offers MA in peace studies and international relations, and BA in theology. In addition, the college has a center for research, training and publications. The T triple R conference is a community of discourse on religious responses to issues of race and brings together religious leaders, scholars, civil society organizations and governmental leaders in round table discussions.

Coincidentally, the 2019 theme of the TRRR conference, ‘old divisions new social formations: Africa and the diaspora’, fits with the symbolism of the painting in the Hekima chapel. They are not only thought provoking but also presents an urgency for action.

As you step in the university, the Hekima University College chapel is eye catching. It’s central location within the compound, the beautiful garden plants and the stained-glass doors welcomes you to a place of worship and adoration. As delegates get seated, one could easily notice a steady and intent look in admiration of the paintings and other art behind the center alter of the chapel. Dr. Elias Omondi, director of HIPSIR and a Jesuit priest, took the stage to brief the delegates and students on the triptych at the alter which was designed by an African Jesuit artist and scholar from Cameroon, Fr. Engelbert Mveng. The beautiful image at the center depicts an elevated Christ with a lustrous bright yellow color at the background, he said. At his feet are two figures, one with arms stretched out to him and the other pointing at ‘the city’. This magnificent image is sandwiched by scenes from the bible; on the right, is the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and on the left is the miracle of Cana.

Strategically located at the bottom center of the middle panel is ‘the city of Nairobi’. In an article published in 2012, Fr. Kpanie Addy, points out to the symbolism and ambivalence of the city through 3 lenses; First the biblical perspectives. Enoch as the first city of the bible, which originated as a place of refuge and protection for Cain and but also a birthplace for civilization and invention. Furthermore, the bible notes the emergence of several other cities, some representing evil like Sodom and Gomorrah while some others are outstanding like Jerusalem. The second perspective is within the African context. In this context, the city is representated in a clear dichotomy of the rural and urban, one that can be viewed as a deliberate establishment by the colonial masters of a social structure that restricts black people’s access to the urban cities. Thus, a place of alienation, exclusion and exploitation but also a place of acculturation and survival especially in the contemporary society. The third perspective is that of the artists. A lens that encapsulates the first two perspectives. According to the Fr. Mveng, the city represents the church in its inherent ambiguity. Whereby racism among other evils proceed Christ’s mission even among the missionaries on one hand and on the other, is the active role played by the church in advocating for social justice and peace in conflict situations.

400th Year Remembrances of Slavery Should Prompt Renewed Attention to U.S.-Africa Policies

By R. Drew Smith
Professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Co-Convener, Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race

With 2019 regarded by many as marking 400 years since the beginnings of African enslavement on the North American continent, the costs and consequences of that historic atrocity and the case for reparations for descendants of slavery have been receiving considerable attention. It is crucial there be a serious accounting of slavery, including a financial accounting of slavery’s impact on economic disparities along race lines, and this year’s quadricentennial commemorative activities have served as an occasion for some of the most far-reaching political and even theological discussions of these matters to date within the U.S.

But as mobilizations around reparations proceed, there should also be a focus on repairing severed cultural, religious, political, and economic ties between African-descended persons throughout the Americas and African peoples on the continent.

This was the thinking behind the designation of 2019 as an Africa diaspora Year of Return to Africa, with that return taking place symbolically through visits to Ghana and the castles on its coast from which many Africans began their journey into enslavement in the Americas. Scheduled to coincide with the August 1619 arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown, persons from across the Americas have been assembling for remembrance ceremonies in Ghana this month, including a U.S. congressional delegation comprised of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Nonetheless, 2019 also serves as a sad reminder of historically fraught political and economic relations between the U.S. and Africa—and of how little critical attention U.S. missteps in its governmental relations with Africa have received from American faith leaders.

After years of social neglect and economic abuse, U.S. governmental policies began showing improvements during Bill Clinton’s administration, especially with the signing into law in 2000 of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. This was a preferential trade agreement that increased sub-Saharan African exports to the U.S. from roughly $25 billion in 2000 to a high point of $86 billion in 2008 before declining to $50 billion in 2012 and then to $20 billion by 2016.1 George W. Bush’s administration produced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which allocated $15 billion for AIDS relief initiatives between 2003 and 2008 and authorized another $48 billion in 2008. Twelve of the 15 countries targeted by the program were located in Africa.2 Several key Africa initiatives emerged during Barack Obama’s administration, including the Power Africa Initiative (which pledged $7 billion in governmental aid and generated $14 billion in matching private sector funds) and the Young African Leaders Initiative (which produced a network of more than 250,000 young African leaders).3

Donald Trump’s Africa policy has been remarkable more for its inactivity, lack of focus, and pejorative tone. As Trump was preparing to assume the presidency in 2016, he tweeted: “Every penny of the $7 billion going to Africa as per Obama will be stolen — corruption is rampant!”4 In case that didn’t make clear how negatively Trump viewed Africa, his January 2019 disparagements of African and several other global south nations as “shithole countries” made his low regard for Africa abundantly clear.

Trump’s attitude toward Africa has been deeply problematic, but even where there were laudable developments in U.S.-Africa policy from the Clinton administration forward, the real legacy has remained largely one of ongoing neglect.

Meanwhile, many of the Africa advocacy organizations within the U.S. that had established discernible footing and voice during the 1970s and 1980s had lost momentum by the 1990s. This was an Africa advocacy infrastructure in which faith leaders and their religious constituencies played a strategic role—and African American clergy were a very prominent part of this Africa advocacy work. A cadre of African American civil rights movement clergy championed African decolonization and nation-building during the 1950s and 1960s, post-independence African development during the 1970s, and were on the front lines of U.S. anti-apartheid activism during the 1980s and early-1990s.

By the time South African apartheid officially ended in 1994 however, Africa advocacy organizations in the U.S. were struggling with their directional footing and with maintaining funding and support, including from the activist faith-based networks that had been primary partners in their advocacy work.

So when the U.S. government did little to respond as a million Rwandan lives were lost to genocide in 1994, and as more than 11,000 lives were lost between late-2013 and 2015 to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and as protracted violent conflicts in Sudan, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo led to millions of deaths over the past two decades, Africa advocacy organizations within the U.S. could not apply the same level of pressure for action they did during their 1980s anti-apartheid activism.

The inability of these organizations to assert political pressure and the lack of a systematically mobilized U.S. faith sector around African urgencies from 1994 forward were closely interrelated.

Systematic and substantive responses to social urgencies are necessary, but Africa is also a context experiencing some of the greatest economic growth, technological expansion, educational vitality, and cultural and religious vibrancy of any place in the world.

U.S. policy approaches to Africa should be guided by a concern for social need but also by a commitment to allying with vital developmental initiatives taking place within Africa.

A strong Africa advocacy sector in the U.S. is essential to carrying out those objectives. As in the past, this ongoing work will require strong support from the faith community, and a new generation of African American faith leaders should be leading the charge to bolster the hard work being done by a diligent but institutionally diminished Africa advocacy sector.


  1. John Campbell, “What is the African Growth and Opportunity Act?” Council on Foreign Relations, February 17, 2017, https://www.cfr.org/blog/what-african-growth-and-opportunity-act
  2. R. Drew Smith, “Balancing Faith-Based Strategies in U.S.-Africa Policy,” Review of Faith & International Affairs, September 2008
  3. Danielle Kwateng-Clark, “The Obama legacy in Africa,” NewsOne, December 1, 2016, https://newsone.com/3605160/the-obama-legacy-in-africa/
  4. BBC, “Barack Obama: How will Africa remember him?” BBC News, January 18, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38649362

Preaching to Social Context: Africa (updated)

We are inviting sermons that wrestle biblically, theologically, politically, or sociologically with the contexts and life-worlds within which Africans live and minister. These submissions will be considered for publication as part of a Transatlantic Roundtable series highlighting African social theologies and the day-to-day social contexts and situations into which those theologies speak.

Sermons and presentations for the Africa volume must be situated thematically within an African social and ministerial context. That is to say, the sermon or publicly-presented message must wrestle at its core with contextual and existential themes emanating from the lived experience of continental Africans. Sermons or public presentations addressing social policy issues, social justice concerns, social healing, or social empowerment are especially welcomed.

While the theological and exegetical ‘content’ of the sermon is certainly important, the social ‘context’ of the sermon is equally important. Context in this instance refers to the setting in which the sermon was preached, but even more importantly, the African social situations and circumstances being addressed within the sermon. It is requested then that sermons make sure to incorporate stories, social narratives, and social analysis so that the sermon provides a rich understanding of the social context into which the sermon is speaking. 

Sermons or presentations should be 4,000 words or less, and will be considered only from persons currently living and working in Africa. The submission should be accompanied by a brief autobiographical sketch of 250 words or less, outlining connections between the ministry and the context being addressed, and outlining the occasion and setting of the sermon or public presentation. Please submit only one sermon or presentation. Submissions should be publication-ready in their clarity, coherence, and writing mechanics. This initial publication in the series will be an English language publication, although we are hoping for translated submissions from non-English speaking African contexts as well. The editors for the Africa volume will be Prof. R. Drew Smith (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), Prof. Philomena Mwaura (Kenyatta University, Kenya), and Prof. Babatunde Adedibu (Redeemed Christian Bible College, Nigeria).

Please forward submissions for the Africa volume by October 15, 2019 to Prof. R. Drew Smith: rsmith@pts.edu. We anticipate being able to accept approximately 30 sermons or public presentations for the Africa volume and hope to notify persons by November 30, 2019 as to whether their submission has been selected for publication in this volume. We look forward to the possibility of your participation.

In Cameroon, religious freedom can’t be separated from politics

(RNS) — American religion and politics have been stubbornly connected — except where we pretend they aren’t.

Despite constitutional separations between church and state, religion has been more closely tied to politics and politics more closely tied to religion than most care to admit.

And yet, advocates for international religious freedom often treat religious freedom and political freedom as totally separate and distinct domains.

This separation of political and religious freedom was on display during the recent Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, an annual gathering hosted by the U.S. State Department.

The high-level event, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence spoke, exemplified the strengths of the religious freedom movement — but also its weaknesses.

Vice President Mike Pence addresses delegates at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 18, 2019. Photo by Ralph Alswang/ State Department/Public Domain

Among its weaknesses is a narrow definition of religious freedom and a primary focus on non-democratic Muslim or socialist-inclined nations long considered foes of the U.S.

Those nations highlighted in religious freedom reports produced by the State Department and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom include countries guilty of the worst repression and violence against religion in the world, including North Korea and China.

While these lists focus primarily on countries where religious association or observance is restricted, they leave off countries that put limits on acceptable forms of thought, action and expressions of conscience.

These are places like the nation of Cameroon, where religion (when understood in terms of religious conscience) is forced to hide in plain sight.

In Cameroon, a country where I served as a Fulbright professor in 2009, decades of systematic injustices visited upon the English-speaking minority by the French-speaking majority have brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Decades of political and economic marginalization have given rise to spurts of resistance by English-speaking leaders. This includes visible resistance coming from church leaders.

The Cameroonian government has not tolerated much public dissent from any quarter, including the faith sector, and has acted aggressively to tamp down groups it sees as a threat.

In 2013, for example, the government closed down 100 Pentecostal churches for what it claimed was criminal activities. The churches denied any wrongdoing. Instead, they believe the shutdown was to stop them from criticizing the government.

The government also took aim at dissenters by intermittently shutting down internet access in the two English-speaking provinces for 240 days between January 2017 and March 2018.

Churches have prevailed nonetheless as a platform for public dissent.

One of the most consistent critics of governmental policies and practices has been Christian Tumi, a Roman Catholic Cardinal whose outspokenness has subjected him to death threats and constant government surveillance. Cardinal Tumi’s vocal criticism of the government has emboldened other Catholic clergy to speak out.

This has resulted in the suspicious killings of at least seven priests and two Catholic sisters in recent decades and the banning of the Catholic Radio Veritas station.

Within the past few years, opposition to the government turned into armed struggle. This has pitted militias of young English-speaking men against federal troops who have engaged in violent putdowns of dissenting combatants and noncombatants alike.

Since the 2016 beginning of the secessionist uprising, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed or have “disappeared.” More than 400 were killed in 2018 alone. At least 437,000 persons have been displaced.

A church in Nkambe, Cameroon. Photo by Kintong/Creative Commons

The latter part of 2018 was especially costly for Cameroonian churches.

Seventy-nine children and three staff persons from a Presbyterian school were kidnapped in November of that year, presumably by separatists who demanded schools purportedly biased against English-speakers be closed down.

The kidnapped children and school staff were later released.

Among those less fortunate: a Presbyterian missionary from the U.S. was killed reportedly by government soldiers in October; a Cameroonian Catholic priest was shot and killed in July; a Catholic seminarian was shot and killed in October; and a Kenyan priest was shot and killed in November — all allegedly by government soldiers.

Charles Trumann Wesco was killed Oct. 30, 2018, in Cameroon. Photo courtesy of Believers Baptist Church

In addition, four Presbyterian churches were taken over by the government for use as military barracks, and 100 Presbyterian ministers have been forced to flee their homes.

“When churches attempt to mediate or assist members of one side of the crisis, they become targets for those on the other side of the conflict,” Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, told Fox News earlier this year.

The situation in Cameroon has become quite grave, but it is baffling that a situation where such precipitous declines of religious and political freedom have been occurring could go without mention in annual reports from USCIRF and the State Department.

It is a clear indicator of the problematic criteria used within international religious freedom circles for assessing and advancing freedom around the world.

An emphasis on free exercise of religious concern and conscience brings with it a certain moral capital that carries weight with Republicans and Democrats alike.

Hopefully, opportunities for more effectively bringing that capital to bear on behalf of global freedom will not be squandered due to overly narrow conceptions of freedom.

R. Drew Smith. Courtesy photo

(R. Drew Smith is a political scientist and Baptist minister whose research, writing, and advocacy has focused on intersections between faith and politics in the U.S. and Africa. He also testified in 2011 on religious freedom in Africa before a U.S. House subcommittee. He is co-convener of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race and is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

2019 Conference Details

English (French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili below)

The Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race (TRRR) invites presentation proposals for its 2019 conference, which will convene at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR), Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya, July 1-5.

This conference takes place against the backdrop of an era of increased political authoritarianism and a noticeable rise in racial and religious intolerance across the world. In Africa the issues of migration, review of conflict intervention mechanisms and an ideological shift on the war on terrorism have raised questions on US strategy in Africa. There has also been a noticeable increase in recent years of suspicions toward known and settled facts and of an economic and cultural nationalism that is fuelling conflicts across the World. This time of global uncertainty requires a bold and progressive agenda, that also recognises assets and cultures of cooperation to challenge the existing order.

We seek papers that will address these issues with urgency, clarity and an understanding of what is at stake and what can be imagined. Themes to be addressed include:
• Political and Religious Authoritarianism: Past, Present and Future
• Deconstructing Conflict, Violence and Sovereignty in Africa and Across the Diaspora
• Assets, Cooperatives and the Culture of Cooperation
• Patriarchy, Sexism and the Role of Culture in Africa and the Diaspora
• Faith-based Responses to the Immigration Crisis
• New Formations of African Identity on the Continent and Across the Diaspora
• Old Media New Media, Social Media and the Production of Knowledge-based Development
• Religion, Race and Morality in the Age of New Social Movements

We invite analysis of these and other tensions at the intersections of religion, race, class, gender and nationality, especially bearing upon faith sector positioning and responses within Africa and diasporic contexts. Contemporary and historical analysis of these contexts are welcome. Best practices presentations and scholarly papers should be outlined in an abstract of 250 words or fewer and emailed to Dr. William Ackah (w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk) and Dr. R. Drew Smith (rsmith@pts.edu).

Paper proposals are still being accepted on a rolling basis.

Conference Details

1st and 2nd July will consist of immersion activities in Nairobi and the surrounding area. We will meet with local community organizations and visit sites where groups are working on issues related to conflict, poverty, community empowerment and faith-based co-operation and development. (further details to follow)

3rd to 5th July Main Conference with panel sessions, plenaries and roundtable discussions.

Dr Elias Opongo – Elias.Opongo@hekima.ac.ke TRRR regional coordinator
Rev Ronald Nathan rancilen@gmail.com TRRR Treasurer

Registration Costs

Global north participants:           

Standard          $200 (through 3/31)     $225 (through 4/30)     $250 (after 4/30)

Students             $60 (through 3/31)       $80 (through 4/30)     $100 (after 4/30)

Global south participants:

Standard           $125

Students              $50

Conference Registration

Other information

Kenya is a vibrant and dynamic country with beautiful scenery and a rich history, our local hosts are happy to provide advice and guidance on what to see and do during your time here. It is certainly worth adding a few days to your trip post conference to see the country.

We will provide transportation for the immersion activities. All other transportation including traveling from airport to hotels, and from hotels to conference venues is the responsibility of each participant. We will provide you with advice on travel options in country nearer the time. Below you will find a list of accommodation options which we recommend you book early in the new year.

Accommodation Options

Location: Near Adams Arcade and Kilimani Area where Hekima University College is located
Please find the possible accommodation details here below. If there is difficulty in booking, please let us know so that we can help.
(N.B.! Currently $1 US = 100 Kenyan Shillings [KES]) in July 2018.

1. Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR), Hekima University College

5,000KES ($ 50) Bed and Breakfast Standard room (self-contained)

Contact: + 254 729755905       carole@hekima.ac.ke

2. Mash Park Hotel (http://www.mashparkhotelsnrb.com)
A four star hotel, fully equipped with facilities and within a distance of 10 minutes’ walk to the conference place, the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR).

7,500KES ($ 115) Bed and Breakfast Standard room (self-contained)
9,750KES ($135) Bed and Breakfast Deluxe room (self-contained)
11,250KES ($150) Bed and Breakfast Double bed room (self-contained)

Contacts: +254 712 304 311; +254 712 304 318; +254 020 386 1218/9
info@mashparkhotelsnrb.com

3. Bartmar Houses (http://bartmarapartments.com)

5,000KES ($50) Self Catering Standard room (self-contained)

Contacts: +254 722 336 839        bartmarapartments@gmail.com

4. Double Tree – Hilton (www.doubletree3.hilton.com)

($160) Bed and Breakfast (B&B)  Single bed (self-contained)
($185) Full board Couples Room (self-contained)

Contacts: +254 736600002/709090000;

5. Economy Accommodation Centers
The following accommodation centers’ are cheaper, clean and modest. However, they have conditions attached as indicated below, but negotiable. They are found within a distance of 10 to 15 minutes walk to HIPSIR.

  • Savelberg Retreat Centre
    2300KES ($23) Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Single bed (non-self-contained)
    2900KES ($29) Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Single bed (self-contained
    3700 KES ($37) Full board Single bed (self-contained)

Contacts: +254 733 251 716     http://www.savelbergretreatcentre.org; info@savelbergretreatcentre.org                                                                Conditions: guests must be in by 9pm absent prior arrangement.

  • Rosa Mystica Spiritual Centre
    3000 KES ($30) Bed and Breakfast (B & B) Single bed (self-contained)
    3500 ($35) Half board Single bed (self-contained)
    4000 ($40) Full board Single bed (self-contained)
    4000 ($40) Bed and Breakfast Couples room (self-contained)
    5000 ($50) Half board Couples room (self-contained)
    6000 ($60) Full board Couples room (self-contained)

Contacts; +254 726 769 961 info@ rosamysticakenya.org
http://www.rosamysticakenya.org/
Conditions: guests must be in by 8pm absent prior arrangement

  • Tumaini Centre
    2000KES ($20) Bed and Breakfast Single bed (non-self-contained)
    2900KES ($29) Full board Single bed (non-self-contained)

Contacts: +254 723 577 021;  254 20 261 4595/6   tumaini.ac@aimint.net

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Appel à Présentations

La Table ronde transatlantique sur la religion et la race (TRRR) invite à présenter des propositions pour sa conférence 2019 qui se tiendra à l’Institut Hekima d’études de la paix et des relations internationales (HIPSIR), Hekima University College, Nairobi, Kenya, du 1er au 5 juillet.

Cette conférence se déroule dans un contexte d’autoritarisme politique accru et d’augmentation notable de l’intolérance raciale et religieuse à travers le monde. En Afrique, les questions de migration, d’examen des mécanismes d’intervention en cas de conflit et d’évolution idéologique de la guerre contre le terrorisme ont soulevé des questions sur la stratégie américaine en Afrique. Ces dernières années, il y a eu une augmentation notable des soupçons à l’égard de faits connus et établis et d’un nationalisme économique et culturel qui alimente les conflits à travers le monde. Cette période d’incertitude mondiale exige un programme audacieux et progressiste, qui reconnaît également les atouts et les cultures de coopération pour remettre en cause l’ordre existant.

Nous recherchons des documents qui aborderont ces questions avec urgence, clarté et compréhension de ce qui est en jeu et de ce qui peut être imaginé. Les thèmes à traiter incluent:
• Autoritarisme politique et religieux: passé, présent et futur
• Déconstruire les conflits, la violence et la souveraineté en Afrique et dans la diaspora
• Actifs, coopératives et culture de la coopération
• Patriarcat, sexisme et rôle de la culture en Afrique et dans la diaspora
• Réponses fondées sur la foi à la crise de l’immigration
• Nouvelles formations de l’identité africaine sur le continent et à travers la diaspora
• Vieux médias, nouveaux médias, médias sociaux et production de développement fondé sur la connaissance
• Religion, race et moralité à l’ère des nouveaux mouvements sociaux

Nous invitons à analyser ces tensions et d’autres aux intersections de la religion, de la race, de la classe, du sexe et de la nationalité, en particulier en ce qui concerne le positionnement et les réponses du secteur confessionnel en Afrique et dans les contextes diasporiques. Une analyse contemporaine et historique de ces contextes est la bienvenue. Les présentations sur les meilleures pratiques et les articles scientifiques doivent être résumés dans un résumé de 250 mots ou moins et envoyés par courriel au Dr William Ackah (w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk) et au Dr R. Drew Smith ( pts.edu).

Les propositions de papier sont toujours acceptées.

Détails de la conférence

Les 1er et 2 juillet comprendront des activités d’immersion à Nairobi et dans les environs. Nous rencontrerons des organisations communautaires locales et visiterons des sites où des groupes travaillent sur des questions liées aux conflits, à la pauvreté, à l’autonomisation des communautés et à la coopération et au développement basés sur la foi. (plus de détails à suivre)

3 au 5 juillet Conférence principale avec des tables rondes, des plénières et des tables rondes

Frais d’inscription

Participants mondiaux du nord      Participants mondiaux du sud

Waged                                              $250                                              $125
Unwaged/students                       $100                                                $50

Les paiements à recevoir avant le 10 mai.

Les paiements peuvent être effectués vers le haut de cette page.

Dr Elias Opongo – Elias.Opongo@hekima.ac.ke TRRR regional coordinator
Rev Ronald Nathan rancilen@gmail.com TRRR Treasurer

Les autres informations

Le Kenya est un pays dynamique et dynamique avec de beaux paysages et une histoire riche, nos hôtes locaux sont heureux de fournir des conseils et des conseils sur ce qu’il faut voir et faire pendant votre séjour ici. Cela vaut certainement la peine d’ajouter quelques jours à votre voyage après la conférence pour voir le pays.

Nous assurerons le transport pour les activités d’immersion. Tous les autres moyens de transport, y compris les déplacements entre l’aéroport et les hôtels et entre les hôtels et les lieux de conférence, sont à la charge de chaque participant. Nous vous fournirons des conseils sur les options de voyage dans le pays le plus près possible. Vous trouverez ci-dessous une liste d’options d’hébergement que nous vous recommandons de réserver au début de la nouvelle année.

Options d’hébergement

Lieu: près de la galerie Adams et de la zone de Kilimani où se trouve le collège universitaire de Hekima
Veuillez trouver ci-dessous les détails de l’hébergement possible. Si vous rencontrez des difficultés lors de la réservation, veuillez nous en informer afin que nous puissions vous aider.
(N.B.! Actuellement 1 $ US = 100 shillings kenyans [KES]) en juillet 2018.

(Les options d’hébergement sont listées ci-dessus).

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Convocar Apresentações

A Mesa Redonda Transatlântica sobre Religião e Raça (TRRR) convida a apresentar propostas para a sua conferência de 2019, que se reunirá no Instituto Hekima de Estudos para a Paz e Relações Internacionais (HIPSIR), Hekima University College em Nairobi, Quênia, de 1 a 5 de julho.

Esta conferência tem como pano de fundo uma era de crescente autoritarismo político e um notável aumento da intolerância racial e religiosa em todo o mundo. Na África, as questões de migração, revisão de mecanismos de intervenção de conflito e uma mudança ideológica na guerra ao terrorismo levantaram questões sobre a estratégia dos EUA na África. Houve também um aumento notável nos últimos anos de suspeitas em relação a fatos conhecidos e estabelecidos e de um nacionalismo econômico e cultural que está alimentando conflitos em todo o mundo.

Este momento de incerteza global requer uma agenda ousada e progressista, que também reconhece ativos e culturas de cooperação para desafiar a ordem existente. Buscamos artigos que abordem essas questões com urgência, clareza e compreensão do que está em jogo e do que pode ser imaginado. Temas a serem abordados incluem:
• Autoritarismo político e religioso: passado, presente e futuro
• Desconstruindo Conflito, Violência e Soberania na África e na Diáspora
• Ativos, Cooperativas e Cultura de Cooperação
• Patriarcado, sexismo e o papel da cultura na África e na diáspora Respostas baseadas na fé à crise da imigração
• Novas formações de identidade africana no continente e na diáspora
• Mídia antiga, novas mídias, mídias sociais e a produção de desenvolvimento baseado em conhecimento
• Religião, Raça e Moralidade na Era dos Novos Movimentos Sociais Convidamos a análise dessas e outras tensões nas interseções de religião, raça, classe, gênero e nacionalidade, especialmente tendo em conta o posicionamento do setor de fé e as respostas dentro dos contextos da África e da diáspora.

A análise contemporânea e histórica desses contextos é bem-vinda. Apresentações de melhores práticas e trabalhos acadêmicos devem ser resumidos em um resumo de 250 palavras ou menos e enviadas por email para o Dr. William Ackah (w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk) e Dr. R. Drew Smith (rsmith @ pts.edu).

Propostas de papel ainda estão sendo aceitas.

Detalhes da conferência

1 e 2 de julho consistirá de atividades de imersão em Nairobi e na área circundante. Encontraremos organizações comunitárias locais e visitaremos locais onde os grupos estão trabalhando em questões relacionadas a conflitos, pobreza, fortalecimento da comunidade e cooperação e desenvolvimento baseados na fé. (mais detalhes a seguir) 3 a 5 de julho Conferência Principal com sessões de painéis, plenárias e mesas redondas..

Custos de registro

Participantes do norte global   Participantes do sul global

Waged                                                $250                                                 $125
Unwaged/students                          $100                                                  $50

Pagamentos a serem recebidos até 10 de maio.

Los pagos se pueden hacer cerca de la parte superior de esta página.

Dr Elias Opongo – Elias.Opongo@hekima.ac.ke TRRR regional coordinator
Rev Ronald Nathan rancilen@gmail.com TRRR Treasurer

Outra informação

O Quênia é um país vibrante e dinâmico, com belas paisagens e uma rica história. Nossos anfitriões locais estão felizes em fornecer conselhos e orientações sobre o que ver e fazer durante o seu tempo aqui. Certamente vale a pena adicionar alguns dias à sua viagem após a conferência para ver o país. Nós forneceremos transporte para as atividades de imersão. Todos os outros transportes, incluindo a viagem do aeroporto para hotéis, e de hotéis para locais de conferência, são de responsabilidade de cada participante. Forneceremos conselhos sobre as opções de viagem no país mais próximo do horário. Abaixo você encontrará uma lista de opções de acomodação que recomendamos reservar no início do ano novo.

Opções de alojamento

Localização: Perto de Adams Arcade e Kilimani Area, onde a Hekima University College está localizada
Por favor, encontre os possíveis detalhes da acomodação abaixo. Se houver dificuldade na reserva, informe-nos para que possamos ajudar. (N.B.! Atualmente US $ 1 US = 100 Shillings Quenianos [KES]) em julho de 2018

(As opções de acomodação estão listadas acima).

_________________________________________________________________

Convocatoria para Presentaciones

La Mesa Redonda Transatlántica sobre Religión y Raza (TRRR) invita a presentar propuestas para su conferencia de 2019, que se realizará en el Instituto Hekima de Estudios de Paz y Relaciones Internacionales (HIPSIR), Universidad Hekima en Nairobi, Kenia, del 1 al 5 de julio.

Esta conferencia tiene lugar en el contexto de una era de mayor autoritarismo político y un notable aumento de la intolerancia racial y religiosa en todo el mundo. En África, los problemas de la migración, la revisión de los mecanismos de intervención del conflicto y un cambio ideológico en la guerra contra el terrorismo han planteado interrogantes sobre la estrategia estadounidense en África. También ha habido un aumento notable en los últimos años de sospechas hacia hechos conocidos y resueltos, y de un nacionalismo económico y cultural que está alimentando conflictos en todo el mundo.

Esta época de incertidumbre global requiere una agenda audaz y progresiva, que también reconozca activos y culturas de cooperación para desafiar el orden existente. Buscamos documentos que aborden estos problemas con urgencia, claridad y comprensión de lo que está en juego y lo que se puede imaginar. Los temas que se abordarán incluyen:
• Autoritarismo político y religioso: pasado, presente y futuro
• Deconstrucción del conflicto, la violencia y la soberanía en África y en toda la diáspora
• Los activos, las cooperativas y la cultura de la cooperación
• Patriarcado, sexismo y el papel de la cultura en África y la diáspora
• Respuestas basadas en la fe a la crisis de inmigración
• Nuevas formaciones de identidad africana en el continente y en toda la diáspora
• Medios nuevos Nuevos medios, redes sociales y la producción de desarrollo basado en el conocimiento
• Religión, raza y moral en la era de los nuevos movimientos sociales

Invitamos a analizar estas y otras tensiones en las intersecciones de la religión, la raza, la clase, el género y la nacionalidad, especialmente sobre el posicionamiento y las respuestas del sector de la fe dentro de África y los contextos de la diáspora. El análisis histórico e histórico de estos contextos es bienvenido. Las presentaciones de buenas prácticas y los artículos académicos se deben resumir en un resumen de 250 palabras o menos y enviarse por correo electrónico al Dr. William Ackah (w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk) y al Dr. R. Drew Smith (rsmith @ pts.edu).

Se siguen aceptando propuestas en papel.

Detalles de la conferencia

El 1 y el 2 de julio consistirán en actividades de inmersión en Nairobi y sus alrededores. Nos reuniremos con organizaciones de la comunidad local y visitaremos sitios donde los grupos están trabajando en temas relacionados con el conflicto, la pobreza, el empoderamiento de la comunidad y la cooperación y el desarrollo basados ​​en la fe. (más detalles a seguir)

Del 3 al 5 de julio Conferencia principal con sesiones de panel, plenarias y mesas redondas.

Costos de registro

Participantes del norte global     Participantes del sur global

Waged                                                 $250                                              $125
Unwaged/students                           $100                                                $50

Los pagos se recibirán antes del 10 de mayo.

Pagamentos podem ser feitos perto do topo desta página.

Dr Elias Opongo – Elias.Opongo@hekima.ac.ke TRRR regional coordinator
Rev Ronald Nathan rancilen@gmail.com TRRR Treasurer

Otra información

Kenia es un país vibrante y dinámico, con bellos paisajes y una rica historia, nuestros anfitriones locales están encantados de ofrecer consejos y orientación sobre qué ver y hacer durante su tiempo aquí. Sin duda vale la pena agregar unos días a su viaje posterior a la conferencia para ver el país.

Proporcionaremos transporte para las actividades de inmersión. Todos los demás medios de transporte, incluidos los que viajan desde el aeropuerto hasta los hoteles, y desde los hoteles hasta los centros de conferencias, son responsabilidad de cada participante. Le proporcionaremos asesoramiento sobre las opciones de viaje en el país más cerca del momento. A continuación encontrará una lista de opciones de alojamiento que le recomendamos reservar a principios del año nuevo.

Opciones de alojamiento

Ubicación: Cerca de Adams Arcade y Kilimani Area donde se encuentra Hekima University College

Encuentre los posibles detalles de alojamiento a continuación. Si hay dificultades para reservar, háganoslo saber para que podamos ayudarlo.
(N.B.! Actualmente $ 1 US = 100 chelines kenianos [KES]) en julio de

(Las opciones de alojamiento se enumeran arriba).

_________________________________________________________________

Piga simu kwa mawasilisho

Roundtable ya Transatlantic juu ya Dini na Mbio (TRRR) inakaribisha mapendekezo ya kuwasilisha mkutano wake wa 2019, ambayo itakutana katika Taasisi ya Hekima ya Amani na Mahusiano ya Kimataifa (HIPSIR), Chuo Kikuu cha Hekima Chuo Kikuu cha Nairobi, Kenya, Julai 1-5.

Mkutano huu unafanyika dhidi ya hali ya nyuma ya zama za utawala wa kisiasa ulioongezeka na kuongezeka kwa kutosha kwa ukatili wa kikabila na kidini duniani kote. Katika Afrika masuala ya uhamiaji, mapitio ya mifumo ya kuingilia migogoro na mabadiliko ya kiitikadi juu ya vita dhidi ya ugaidi imefufua maswali juu ya mkakati wa Marekani huko Afrika. Pia kuna ongezeko la kuonekana katika miaka ya hivi karibuni ya mashaka juu ya ukweli unaojulikana na uliowekwa na utaifa wa kiuchumi na utamaduni unaosababisha migogoro duniani kote. Wakati huu wa kutokuwa na uhakika duniani unahitaji ajenda ya ujasiri na ya maendeleo, ambayo pia inatambua mali na tamaduni za ushirikiano ili kukabiliana na utaratibu uliopo. Tunatafuta majarida ambayo yatashughulikia masuala haya kwa uharaka, uwazi na ufahamu wa kile kinachohusika na kinachoweza kufikiriwa. Mandhari kushughulikiwa ni pamoja na:
• Mamlaka ya Kisiasa na ya kidini: ya zamani, ya sasa na ya baadaye
• Kuimarisha Mgongano, Vurugu na Utawala wa Afrika na Kote kwa Wilaya
• Mali, Ushirika na Utamaduni wa Ushirikiano
• Uzazi wa kifalme, Sexism na Wajibu wa Utamaduni Afrika na Waislamu
• Majibu ya msingi ya imani kwa Mgogoro wa Uhamiaji
• Mafunzo mapya ya Utambulisho wa Kiafrika juu ya Nchi na Kote ya Diaspora
• Vyombo vya habari vya zamani vya Vyombo vya Habari vya Vyombo vya habari, Vyombo vya Habari vya Jamii na Uzalishaji wa Maendeleo ya Maarifa
• Dini, Mbio na Maadili wakati wa Maandamano ya Jamii Mpya

Tunakaribisha uchanganuzi wa mvutano huu na mengine katika makutano ya dini, rangi, darasa, jinsia na utaifa, hususan kuzingatia nafasi ya imani na majibu ndani ya Afrika na mazingira ya diasporic. Uchanganuzi wa kisasa na wa kihistoria wa mazingira haya ni kuwakaribisha. Mawasilisho mazuri zaidi na karatasi za kitaalamu zinapaswa kuwa zilizoainishwa katika maneno ya 250 au chini na barua pepe kwa Dk William Ackah (w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk) na Dk R. Drew Smith (rsmith @ pts.edu).

Mapendekezo ya karatasi bado yanakubaliwa.

Maelezo ya Mkutano

Mwezi wa 1 na 2 Julai utajumuisha shughuli za kuzamisha Nairobi na eneo jirani. Tutakutana na mashirika ya jamii na kutembelea maeneo ambapo makundi yanafanya kazi katika masuala yanayohusiana na mgongano, umasikini, uwezeshaji wa jamii na ushirikiano wa imani na maendeleo. (maelezo zaidi ya kufuata)

Mkutano wa 3 hadi 5 Julai Kuu na vikao vya jopo, majadiliano na majadiliano ya mviringo

Gharama za usajili     

Washiriki wa kaskazini duniani       Washiriki wa kusini duniani

Waged                                        $250                                                 $125
Unwaged/students                  $100                                                   $50

Malipo ya kupatikana kwa Mei 10.

Malipo yanaweza kufanywa karibu na ukurasa huu.

Dr Elias Opongo – Elias.Opongo@hekima.ac.ke TRRR regional coordinator
Rev Ronald Nathan rancilen@gmail.com TRRR Treasurer

Maelezo mengine

Kenya ni nchi yenye nguvu na yenye uzuri wa mazingira na historia yenye utajiri, majeshi yetu ya ndani yanastahili kutoa ushauri na mwongozo juu ya nini cha kuona na kufanya wakati wa wakati wako hapa. Ni hakika kuhitaji kuongeza siku chache kwenye mkutano wako wa safari baada ya kuona nchi.

Tutatoa usafiri wa shughuli za kuzamisha. Usafiri mwingine wote ikiwa ni pamoja na kusafiri kutoka hoteli ya uwanja wa ndege, na kutoka hoteli hadi kumbi za mkutano ni wajibu wa kila mshiriki. Tutakupa ushauri juu ya chaguzi za kusafiri katika nchi karibu na wakati. Chini utapata orodha ya chaguzi za malazi ambazo tunapendekeza uweke kitabu mapema mwaka mpya.

Chaguzi za Malazi

Eneo: Karibu na Adams Arcade na Kilimani Area ambapo Chuo Kikuu cha Hekima iko
Tafadhali pata maelezo ya malazi iwezekanavyo hapo chini. Ikiwa kuna shida katika kuhifadhi, tafadhali tujulishe ili tuweze kusaidia.
(N.B.! Sasa $ 1 US = 100 Shilingi ya Kenya [KES]) mwezi Julai 2018.

(Chaguzi za makaazi zimeorodheshwa hapo juu).

_________________________________________________________________

What Happens When Meghan Markle’s Blackness Losses its Sparkle?

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been hailed as a pivotal moment for multicultural Britain. But Dr William Ackah (Department of Geography) argues that it is just another fleeting false dawn and there will be little lasting, positive impact for Black Britons.

Symbols are important. For some people, seeing Meghan Markle marry into the monarchy, while a Black preacher expounded the word and a Black Choir sang at the ceremony, was viewed as ushering in a new area of racialised harmony and black cultural acceptance at all levels of British society. If blackness is acceptable to the monarchy, then surely it can be embraced by everyone? One can envisage that cascading out from the memories of the day; TV production companies will make documentaries on relationships across cultural and racial boundaries; there will be operas and plays about mixed cultural and racialised identities and new research council funding streams on identity, relationships and difference. Once again, black culture will be examined, explored, explained, celebrated, debated and mined by White people as something new and exotic.

In contrast to the negativity surrounding racialised minorities due to fears over migration and religious and cultural differences, Markle’s Blackness will provide the space for more and more elements of White society to once again be comfortable in talking about how they have Black friends, or how they are down with Stormzy’s lyrics, had a Black choir sing at their wedding and rap lyrically about their love of Jerk chicken. This, I envisage, will be the new language – at least for a while – that will showcase multi-cultural Britain. Meanwhile, the structures of institutionalised racism that leaves the majority of Britain’s black communities at the margins of British society remain unchanged.

We have been here before. Black culture is cool for a time; it is supposedly edgy, hip, and transgressive, and it is useful for British elites to be associated with it in order to project an image of modernity, tolerance and cultural relevance. When London made its bid for the Olympics, it projected a powerful image of itself as a global city a multicultural, multi-ethnic place with a vision of East London as a space and place of opportunity for Black communities and the descendants of migrants from all over the world. This was in contrast to the French bid – fronted by White men and regarded as old fashioned and tired. It could be said that it was the Black and Minority Ethnic Cultural presence that won it for London. Fast forward to today and in East London we have a Queen Elizabeth Park, a Westfield Shopping Complex, the great and the good of elite educational/arts/cultural institutions are moving into the area taking advantage of all the facilities and opportunities. But what has happened to those Black poster children of the Olympic vision that were the catalyst for the change? They apparently have lost their ‘sparkle’ and are being forced out of their homes, businesses and communities and are being erased from the collective consciousness of post-Olympic East London.

Britain has a long history of adoring high profile African Americans and treating them regally whilst perpetrating systematic racialised injustices against its Black British population. Muhammad Ali was a source of fascination and immense entertainment when he boxed and toured Britain in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Martin Luther King was admired and lauded when he preached in Westminster Abbey and garnered honorary doctorates here in the ‘60s. Paul Robeson the legendary singer, actor and political activist was a huge star of the stage here in the late 1920s and early ‘3’s, and spoke to huge admiring crowds in many parts of the country. The same is true of the African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass who spoke to thousands of people across Britain in the late 19th Century. And if it was thought that Meghan Markle was the first to bring gospel music to the attention of royalty one would be mistaken. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African American choral group from a Black college in Nashville, sang for Queen Victoria in 1873 and toured Britain and Europe, singing for the elites who were both intrigued and moved by the power of their renditions of the Spirituals.

The British establishment has used and abused black people for centuries, whilst occasionally celebrating and feting them with adoration and praise. The Monarchy and the Church of England, both central to the representation of Blackness as a celebratory theme at the wedding, have been deeply complicit in these enterprises. It was royal charters that endorsed the heinous enterprises of transatlantic enslavement and colonisation and the Church ‘owned’ and profited from the labour of enslaved Africans. And through their missionary endeavours they provided the velvet glove of justification for the iron fist of economic, cultural and social brutalisation of many nations and people in Africa and Asia.

These historical realities, and not just historical niceties, have their contemporary manifestations in the treatment of black and minority ethnic bodies in incidences such as the Grenfell and Windrush scandals and the marginalisation and lack of equitable treatment that Black communities receive here. British institutions want to be portrayed as contributing to a world of love and cultural celebration, but they refuse to deal with the legitimate claims of Black communities for justice and reparations. While these claims for justice continue to be ignored, talk of the wedding as an example of Britain’s successful multiculturalism is, to be frank, bulls**t (for example, Douglas Murray ‘s Spectator blog Meghan Markle and the myth of ‘racist’ Britain Spectator, dated 21 May)

British institutions – political, economic, religious and cultural – are manure-peddling institutions. A few Black flowers do grow and flourish against all the odds in these institutional spaces. And when the Black exceptionalisms do emerge, they are asked to sing, play, run, jump, speak and represent the nation. Some are given knighthoods and honours, and some people do manage to have meaningful relationships in this environment. The institutions then use these small success stories to portray themselves as smelling of roses in relation to ‘diversity’ issues. What the institutions fail to acknowledge, and systematically address, are the numbers of Black people for whom the institutional manure is toxic. And how in some cases the institutional environment leads to death, imprisonment, educational underachievement, poor life expectancy, limited employment prospects, lack of political representation, deportation, poor mental health …. the list goes on and on. It needs more than an interracial romance, a few songs, some mentoring schemes and a Stephen Lawrence day to compensate for all the racist manure and meaningless diversity schemes that British institutions have been peddling in order to placate both minorities and the majority in this country. What Black people require are concrete manifestations of compensations for past wrongs and guarantees of formal equality and justice moving forward. All this other stuff, as beautiful as it looks and happy as it makes people feel, is just bulls**t. Same old empire, just different clothes!

Our ancestors, as enslaved and colonial subjects, built and paid for the maintenance of this system – and now, in the form of tax, we still pay for it. When we complain, we are told look at Meghan, sing and be grateful! Well as far is this country is concerned the song is this: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home”. I wait to be culturally orphaned again, once the fascination with Meghan’s Blackness loses its sparkle.

William Ackah, Birkbeck, University of London

Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine

Rev. Waltrina Middleton who served as a primary host of the 2017 Transatlantic Roundtable conference at Howard University will be facilitating a “Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine” immersion visit as part of her organization, Walking on Water Global Ministries.  Transatlantic Roundtable is passing along details below about this important global justice learning opportunity.

Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine will depart Thursday, March 08, 2018 (arriving Friday, March 09) and sojourn to what has historically been called “The Holy Land” through Sunday, March 18 (arriving Sunday, March 18), exploring narratives from Israeli and Palestinian communities. The delegation will depart from Washington, DC and arrive in Tel Aviv. Upon arrival the group will travel to Jerusalem and also explore Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and other sacred sites to engage dialogue on human rights, social justice, faith, education, and the socio-political landscape of the region. The all-inclusive journey will cost $1,995.00 (based on double occupancy), and includes the following:

Roundtrip Air Travel from Washington, DC
Housing (double/9 nts)
Meals(breakfast, dinner, most lunches and snacks)
Programming/Speakers/Interpreters/Guides
Local Transportation
*Single occupancy is $175 additional premium cost. Gratuity is not included. Participants are encouraged to provide gratuity to drivers, wait staff, and guides.

For further information, please contact Rev. Middleton at: wnmiddleton@gmail.com

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