Reflections on Interfaith Activism and Social Justice

Last weekend I worked really hard and pounded out all of my homework for this week. I was fortunately able to lock down almost everything I needed to do. This was good, because on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Interfaith Youth Core came to Hamline for a series of trainings.

Check out more info here:

http://multifaithalliance.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/interfaith-youth-core-religious-pluralism-coming-up-soon-and-very-important/

On Tuesday:

11:15 (Drew Conference Room): Religious Pluralism 101 and the Six Hallmarks of an Interfaith Bridge Builder – Come for lunch and conversation!
7:00pm (Manor Main Lounge): Common Action for the Common Good: How to Organize an Interfaith Service Event

And on Wednesday:

12 pm (Kay Fredericks): What’s Your Story? Storytelling as a Tool of Interfaith Dialogue – Come for lunch and conversation
3 pm (Kay Fredericks): Strategizing Session: How To Develop Sustainable Religious Pluralism
6:30 pm (Kay Fredericks): Dialogue Facilitation Training: Skills for a Shared Values Dialogue

Jenan and Mary Ellen did a great job. The sessions were very educational, but most importantly, they were inspiring. As an aspiring interfaith activist, it’s important for me to develop the frameworks, tools, and skill sets that will improve my approach. From building relationships to sharing values/stories, from adopting service work to attaining the hallmarks of interfaith pluralism, it’s critical that I become a leader in helping Hamline achieve these goals. As such, I’m positively buzzing with ideas, especially as per my conversations with Hamline’s Associate Vice President for Diversity (Dr Poonam Arora) and Hamline’s President (Dr Hanson).

On Thursday, I continued my work by successfully pulling off Multifaith’s paganism event all by myself. It was a little stressful, but fortunately our group was able to explore a productive and thoughtful conversation, which is really all that matters! (Thanks so much to Ryan, Abbie, Mikayla, and Ellen for being so forthcoming with their stories and thoughts, and thanks to all the rest who attended!)

On Thursday, I also attended my campus’ Commitment to Community Keynote Address, given this year by Keith Boykin (a political voice and professional commentator on multiple networks). His focus is primarily on the intersections of race and sex.

I very much enjoyed his speech and thought it was a good introduction to the concepts. At first it wasn’t quite to the level that I was expecting, but then I realized that I was coming fresh from a more advanced, “this-is-how-we-accomplish-things-together” sort of mindset. Boykin’s technique, on the other hand, was more geared towards introducing social justice to people who may never had explored it before. Once I recognized that, it spoke to me in a great way.

And yet, there is one thing that he seemed to leave out. Despite some students being new to issues of social justice, we should ALL be aware of ALL the various intersections that occur. A very important facet of these – one that IFYC explored and one that is close to my heart – is interfaith activism. So, without thinking that this might be a ballsy move, I stood up and I asked him about it. Social justice means telling truth to power, and so I called him out (in a very nice, Minnesota way, of course) and asked him his thoughts on interfaith work.

His response was typical and expected. He acknowledged the import of faith as a tool for activism, and readily agreed that interfaith dialogue is important. But that I needed to ask reminded me once more of the incredible importance of this kind of work. We do not live in a homogenous religious landscape, and preventative measures are crucial to developing strong, pluralistic relationships with one another. I strongly believe that we should call attention to that when it matters most, and this address was an opportunity to do so.

Finally, last night I submitted my first column for the Oracle. I’m not sure if my column made it in – it was rather long. But if it did, be on the lookout! I explored how perceptions of minority communities influence students’ belief in the “safety” of that community, but in particular, I emphasized the importance of diversity in action and cultural exploration.

Want to know what my column says? Grab the Oracle on Tuesday. If it’s in it, you’ll find it!

So, it’s been a very engaging week for me, particularly in the world of activism, education, and commentary. I wanted to blog about it because I wanted to get my thoughts out into the open, but also because this work is only going to continue.

On Tuesday, my column will be out (hopefully), and on Thursday, Multifaith is undertaking its first-ever service project! (More about that here: http://multifaithalliance.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/service-project-do-you-want-to-be-part-of-it/)

On Thursday, October 8 at 6:00 pm, we will be meeting in the Bush Student Center Chapel and traveling to Emma Norton’s Residence, a United Methodist-affiliated homeless shelter for women and children in the Twin Cities. This is going to be a great opportunity for a fun, thought-provoking, and very special act of service. We are also coordinating a provocative preparatory session as well as a reflective follow-up session! This is going to be one of the most important projects Multifaith tackles this year, so I’m hoping we can make it happen.

Finally, on October 24, the Interfaith Youth Core is running a conference dedicated to religious pluralism in our campuses and communities. This is going to be an excellent opportunity for me to bring some useful tips, tricks, and activist ideas! (And Minnesota Congressman Kieth Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim elected to U.S. Congress, is going to be there!) It’s in Chicago and I won a scholarship, so I’m very excited.

I’ll keep my readers posted. Thanks!

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One Response to “Reflections on Interfaith Activism and Social Justice”

  1. […] I’ve been up to a lot in other areas of social justice and interfaith activism, including the Boykin address and my new column for the […]

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