Category Archives: Faith and Social Justice

items from Not in Our Town Princeton (http://niotprinceton.org) and Princeton United Methodist Church (http://princetonumc.org)

Freddish: How to talk to children

In this Atlantic article we learn how Fred Rogers took such great care in choosing words to talk to preschoolers. fred rogers

Author Maxwell King lists the nine rules of Neighborhood language, which he calls “Freddish.” And comments

Rogers once halted taping of a show when a cast member told the puppet Henrietta Pussycat not to cry; he interrupted shooting to make it clear that his show would never suggest to children that they not cry.

 

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Princeton: Not a level playing field

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Here is an interactive map.

Zero in on the Princeton zip code and one finds that  black children growing up poor in Princeton are expected to make $27,000 a year when they are adults, and Hispanic children can expect to make $25,000 a year. But white children can expect to make from $34,000 to $50,000 per year.

“Research has shown that where children live matters deeply in whether they prosper as adults. On Monday the Census Bureau, in collaboration with researchers at Harvard and Brown, published nationwide data that will make it possible to pinpoint — down to the census tract, a level relevant to individual families — where children of all backgrounds have the best shot at getting ahead.” This article by Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui was published in the New York Times on October 1, 2018, and sourced from The Weekend Reader. 

 

Gossip’s Guide: What to see in 20 minutes?

Antonio Salemme's Paul Robeson
Antonio Salemme;s Paul Robeson

 

Conversing with a reference librarian at the Princeton Public Library, I learned that visitors sometimes ask: “What can I do in an hour before I leave for the airport?”

With my Gossip’s Guide hat on – I suggest: 

In 20 minutes, more or less

The Quick Paul Robeson Tour: Check out the Robeson bust by Antonio Salemme in the Princeton Room on the second floor of the library. Walk past the Arts Council of Princeton’s Robeson bust (this site formerly belonged to the Colored YMCA) to the Paul Robeson house and Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, where his father preached. (Both visible only from the outside).

the Norman Rockwell “Yankee Doodle” painting at the Nassau Inn Tap Room (reminding the patron that it is NOT a colonial era building!). Check out the alumni headshots. If you have time, a free place to sit is the upstairs lounge, by the fireplace.

Princeton Cemetery. Available at the entrance is a new brochure. 

Tiger Walk:  Stroll from the tiger in Palmer Square and the tigers at the entrance to Nassau Hall. Keep going and you will find more.

The Comparative Architecture Tour: Enjoy the interior of the Princeton Public Library, a Taj Mahal of libraries, designed by the Hillier firm. Diagonally across, the work of postmodern architect Michael Graves. Contemplate the differences. Then check out the interior of the Arts Council and the current exhibit.

Dohm Alley: a startling array of thoughts and objects in a small narrow space. Plus, there’s a water feature good for contemplating, and it’s right down the street from the town’s college bookstore (never miss a chance to enjoy a college bookstore.)

In 30-40 minutes

A quick Einstein tour — the Einstein museum in the back of Landau’s plus the Einstein bust at the corner of 206 and Nassau Street, great photo op. (The house is too far to walk in a hurry, but I tell people to drive and park on Edgehill.) 

Morven, now made relevant by truthful and inclusive exhibits that tell the stories of female occupants and slaves.

Prospect Gardens, always attractive in any season.

Cotsen Children’s Library inside Firestone Library

Princeton University Chapel, always open and it has a brochure about the windows

Tiffany Window Tour at Princeton United Methodist Church on Fridays and Sundays noon-2.

Quick sculpture tour 1: Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei and Picassso’s Head of a Woman, down by the former Dinky Station.

Quick sculpture tour 2: The Plaza in front of the chapel: statue of John Witherspoon, Song of the Vowels by Lipschitz, and (just inside the University Library, and open to the public) Noguchi’s White Sun. Throw in Oval with Points if you are walking that way.

This tour works if a Princeton native can direct the visitor. Later I may have time to add the links. What would YOU recommend?

 

Race and Protest at Princeton and in Trenton

IMGP2677Welcome to the 54th reunion for Princeton’s Class of ’64! Not the “regular” class. Instead, we’re convening at the reunion for a special summer program for disadvantaged high school kids from the city. Its most well-known graduate – Harlan Bruce Joseph. Like most at the beginning of this tour, I had no idea who he was or what his fate would be.

Today (5-31-18) Kyle Berlin (Valedictorian for the class of 2018) and Milan Eldridge (Class of 2020) led three dozen people – townies and alumni — in a  performance walk “Walking Histories: Race and Protest at Princeton and in Trenton,” one of five different tours offered by the Trenton Project.  At this writing, three performances remain, all starting at Princeton University Art Museum. If you read this in time they are – all different —

Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. Performed by Berlin and Eldridge, written by Berlin and Anna Kimmel.

Friday, June 1 at 11 a.m. Written and performed by Ben Bollinger: “Whites turn around to see a Negro dressed in Ivy clothes and carrying a bag marked “Princeton.”

Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m. Written and performed by Maria Jerez: A life of Javier Johnson White.”

If not catch the Picturing Protest exhibition at the Art Museum, on view for the next five months. Or on first Mondays at 7 pm at Princeton Public Library, come to Not in Our Town Princeton’s Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. On June 4, you will hear and discuss how racial literacy is taught at Princeton High School.

Alison Isenberg and Aaron Landsman  supervised this project; Landsman coached the students in the dramaturgy of how to tell this story like a play. The first stop: Spelman Apartments, named after Laura Spelman Rockefeller, a philanthropist and abolitionist whose dollars funded the first trial of the summer program for high schoolers said to have had “little hope for college.”IMGP2671

Next stop: the Lewis Center, near where Joseph would have arrived on the Dinky train, from Trenton. Contrast: the Lewis Center cost $180 million. Trenton is trying to build an arts center with $80,000. (Rich Rein quotes Berlin in his cover story in U.S. 1 this week, and here is the Berlin oped complete.

Continuing the ironic comparisons, Berlin stops at Whitman College (actually named after Meg but, for this tour, credited to poet Walt), and we learn that it cost $136 million to build, almost six times more than the city of Trenton’s annual budget. It was designed in ‘fake Gothic,” says Berlin, appropriate, he says, since eBay dotes on nostalgia.IMGP2672

At the next stop we learn, for this tour, that the building labeled Wilson College should really be named after Preston Wilcox, a social scientist and human rights activist who advocated for black history studies.IMGP2674

We leave the summer of 1964 and move to the spring of 1968 and the unrest after the King assassination. At this point Joseph is a sophomore at Lincoln University preparing to go to seminary. The police shot Joseph as a looter but all those who knew him deny that he would have done that. He was the only person who died in those riots.  We hear from the eulogy by beloved pastor G. Carter Woodson: “We are responsible for the conditions that allow riots to take place.”

More memories:

The boys of that 1964 summer were turned away from a Princeton barbershop. They wrote a letter to Town Topics in protest.

In their class they debated about that summer’s police brutality in Harlem. .

We share Joseph’s letter about his aspirations to be a minister. The letter was printed on cards, and we passed them around, reading it sentence by sentence: “I have the foundation and tools to be an effective minister, and I strive to help those who are discriminated against…Keep on trying. In every group there will be some listening to what you are saying.”

Was Harlan Bruce Joseph a looter? Or a dreamer?   We are asked to imagine that his statue has been erected “over there.”

 

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Calling White Evangelicals to Stand Against Racism

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Ten days before the national observance of the Stand Against Racism day, a leader of evangelical Christians sent a wakeup call to conservative Christians everywhere: Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary addressed  leaders gathered at Wheaton College (Illinois). In multi-faceted, far-reaching remarks, he defined white supremacy and attributed it to Christian leaders past and current.  

To get details on YWCA Princeton’s plans for Stand Against Racism day, click here. 

To read his address, “Political Dealing, the Crisis of Evangelicalism,”  click here.  Main points: 

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.

This is not a crisis taking place at the level of language.

This is not a crisis unfolding at the level of group allegiance, denomination, or affiliation.

This is not a recent crisis but a historic one. . .”Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the “other” as ourselves. . .

First is the issue of power.  …”The apparent evangelical alignment with the use of power that seeks dominance, control, supremacy, and victory over compassion and justice associates Jesus with the strategies of Caesar, not with the good news of the gospel.,,

Second is the issue of race. …”White history narrates the story of America’s heroes, and white evangelical history views those “good guys” as the providence of a good and faithful God.  When some white evangelicals triumphantly pronounce that we now have “the best president the religious right ever had,” the crisis it underscores to millions of people of color is not an indictment of our President as much as it is an indictment of white evangelicalism and a racist gospel…

Third is the issue of nationalism. …”For white evangelicals to embrace a platform and advocacy that promotes, prioritizes, and defends America above all and over all is to embrace an idolatry that has only ever proven disastrous…

Fourth is the issue of economics.  …”When white evangelicals in prominent and wealthy places speak about what is fair and beneficial for society, but then pass laws and tax changes that create more national indebtedness and elevate the top 1% even higher—while cutting services and provisions for children, the disabled, and the poor that are castigated as disgusting “entitlements”—one has to ask how this is reconciled with being followers of Jesus…

Labberton hopes that evangelicals can change their racist views and cites Matthew 28, the account of the Great Commission. “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Labberton points out that Jesus gave the Great Commission even to those who doubted, those who might have been considered unworthy. “So perhaps he can also still use American evangelicals as well.”

Though I  personally focus on trying to help the people of this world come to know their God better — and some say that is evangelizing — I oppose the rigid beliefs of evangelical theology. Nevertheless I applaud Labberton’s urging the conservative Christian community to study its responsibility for white supremacy, definable as “a system which manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.”

The organization I support, Not in Our Town Princeton, aims to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems which have enabled white supremacy to flourish. We are trying to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all.  

As NIOT Princeton’s website says, “listen to your heart, figure out whether you can contribute time, talent, tithe, or some combination of all three, and then STEP UP! And tell all your friends how your commitment to racial justice is reflected in your calendar, your checkbook, and your conversations. The website offers resources, one place to begin. 

Or come to the rally this Friday. 

 

 

 

 

Suspension? or Restorative Justice

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Guest post by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

On April 12, 2018, at John Witherspoon Middle School, Dr. Anne Gregory of Rutgers University shared her research on restorative justice.  Restorative justice is an alternative method of treating students who are perceived to be defiant, disrespectful, and insubordinate. Instead of punishment in the form of suspension, restorative justice focuses on social and emotional learning as an attempt to improve and correct student behavior.  Rather than “exiling” a student through suspension, restorative justice helps students understand their thoughts and behavior, the harm it may cost others, and the healing that’s necessary to remain in school and to learn. The students confront their mistakes, are held accountable and are more likely to remain in school to graduate.

Dr. Gregory shared data showing that students with repeated suspensions are 20% less likely to graduate from high school or go to college and 3 times more likely to get in trouble with the police. Traditional disciplinary methods involving suspension and other punitive measures tend to support the “school to prison pipeline.”

The two groups most at risk for repeated school suspension are Black males and students with disabilities, both male and female.  In one study, teachers were asked to observe a video of a preschool class and determine which children were more likely become troublemakers.  The teachers wore glasses with eye-tracking software, allowing researchers to track eye movements.  The study showed that the observers tracked Black children more than White children, even though no disruptive behavior was demonstrated by any of the children. The experiment revealed implicit racial bias on the part of the teacher/observers.

There is evidence that restorative justice programs are helping students stay in school and become more active and engaged learners.  Developing social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness (including implicit bias), and self-management (regulating emotions) for both staff and students are keys to the success of restorative justice.

Interventions involve Community Building Circles, where students and staff share vulnerabilities and have their voice heard. More intensive interventions involve restorative dialogue and re-entry circles. The goals are similar, to build trust and community, be supported emotionally and socially, make informed decisions, stay in the school system, and become better students.

Like all new initiatives, restorative justice programs have their problems. However, having committed leadership, staff training and prioritizing relationships over rules, and self-management over suspension are critical to success.

Reported by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

Jammin’ on Palmer Square

Guest post from Colleen Miller (thank you, Colleen!) 

Princetonians taking a stroll in the warmer weather in April might notice some unusual activity on Palmer Square. A swarm of volunteers and artists have descended on an empty storefront at 19 Hulfish Street, taking a ‘blank canvas’ of a retail shop and transforming it into an amazing, eclectic art gallery filled with a myriad of life and color.

The short-term pop-up art gallery – called ArtJam 2018 –  brings together professional artists, undiscovered artists who have experienced homelessness, and the community at large.

As a volunteer, I visited this week during gallery set up, and I can sincerely say I was “blown away” by the quality and quantity of beautiful art.

But buying cool art is not all ArtJam offers. Purchases of art at the gallery support HomeFront’s ArtSpace – a innovative therapeutic art program. ArtJam provides a double-dip experience. You can feel good twice because you are buying art you love and supporting a cause you can believe in.

Now in its ninth year, ArtJam has grown to over 100 participating artists, from Princeton and beyond. Original works by highly renown artists including Judith Brodsky, Jon Sarkin, Cynthia Groya and Gordon Gund are in the exhibition. Pieces from these professional artists are displayed alongside the works of HomeFront clients who have limited means but enormous talents.

Another cool feature is the “buy from the wall” aspect – when you buy an item, you can take it home immediately. The gallery continues to display a rotating collection of art for sale and will be hosting musicians, demos and meet-and-greets with the artists through April 29.

A wide variety of mediums are included — paintings, pottery, glassworks, jewelry, sculpture, and hand-sewn items from SewingSpace, another HomeFront art program.

Since its founding years ago, HomeFront (https://www.homefrontnj.org/) has worked to end family homelessness in Central New Jersey by breaking the cycle of poverty.  HomeFront has developed a sophisticated network of supportive housing and social services for very low-income families.

ArtSpace  (https://www.homefrontnj.org/artspace) often opens doors to new ways of thinking for HomeFront clients, fostering their creativity, self-esteem, and confidence, and helping to set them on a path to achieve independence.  The artists learn to reveal their voice and feel joy in their accomplishments.  Also offered is experience in entrepreneurial skills, empowering the artists to see value in their work as it is admired and purchased by others.  ArtJam is one way for them to exhibit and sell their work.

The ArtJam opening reception on Friday, April 13 is open to the public from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square in Princeton.  For a full calendar of ArtJam events, visit:  https://www.homefrontnj.org/artjam/

 ArtJam At A Glance 

Dates: Friday, April 13- Sunday, April 29

Location: 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ

Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 5-9 pm

Gallery Hours:  Monday through Wednesday, 12 noon to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

  ArtJam, April 13 -29 will feature works of over 100 artists. Proceeds will help support the artists and ArtSpace programs.

Telling your story

 

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We all have a story to tell but sometimes we need help telling it.

I’m looking forward to a four-session workshop with Eileen Sinett  on Wednesday nights in April. If you want to take your communication skills up a couple of notches, consider joining me at the Four Points of Connection workshop starting April 4. Sinett will also offer a one-day version on May 9.

Honing my speaking skill is a theme for me this year. In January I joined a small group of women at Princeton Theological Seminary for a Women’s Voices workshop with Nancy Lammers Gross.  Half of us weren’t preachers; we all connected with each other as well as with our vocal chords. Lammers Gross repeats it on May 8 and 9.

What’s your story? How do you tell it?

(Illustration from Wikipedia: The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea

Next Continuing Conversation is 4/2/18

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Not in Our Town Princeton, a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities, sponsors this monthly series of small group conversations on first Mondays. 

It’s at the Princeton Public Library, and everyone is welcome to attend.

 

Not In Our Town Princeton

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As many of you know, NOT IN OUR TOWN PRINCETON is a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities. Our focus is to promote the equitable treatment of all, and to uncover and confront white supremacy — a system which manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.

Our goal is to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems which have enabled white supremacy to flourish, and to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all. In our commitment to uncovering the blight of white supremacy on our humanity, we take responsibility to address it and eliminate it in all its forms through intentional action, starting with ourselves and our communities.

Our next general meeting, one in a long monthly series entitled “Continuing Conversations on Race & White Privilege” – is slated to take place in…

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White Supremacy Revisited

On Monday, March 5th, Not In Our Town Princeton will meet in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room at 7pm for Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. We will address the following topic:

What is white supremacy? Is it limited to outrageous acts or is it something more?  March’s Continuing Conversation will look at an expanded definition of the phrase as well as Not in Our Town’s revised mission statement.

For more information, click here.