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 |

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.

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: 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.)

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)
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:

Grant Awarded to Assess Reconciliation Practices in East Africa

Dr. Elias Opongo, director of the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations in Nairobi, and Dr. R. Drew Smith, Transatlantic Roundtable coordinator of research and publications, have been awarded a $50,000 two-year grant to assess cultural and Christian practices of reconciliation in South Sudan and northern Uganda. The grant comes through the “African Theological Advance” initiative of Calvin College’s Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, which is an initiative funded by the Templeton Foundation. Opongo and Smith, with a team of local researchers, will interview persons affected by recent conflicts in South Sudan and northern Uganda and also church leaders and community leaders engaged in peace and reconciliation efforts within those contexts. This research project aligns with Transatlantic Roundtable’s heightened emphasis on regional research, and the findings and learnings from this research group will be a very intentional part of the broader research dialogues that will take place at the 2019 TRRR conference to be hosted at Hekima College.

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