The Public Humanist

Our blog publishes the voices of many contributors who use the humanities to explore our world. Reader commentary is encouraged. Consider contributing – complete form. Editor Tim Binkert.

Two cheers for liberalism

So what is American liberalism, and how (if at all) has itchanged since the 60’s? Is it truly as irrelevant to our times as the "re-branding" of Senator Clinton and others would seem to indicate? In its broadest meaning, the classical political liberalism that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries – based upon constitutional government and individual rights – is an intellectual heritage shared by liberals and conservatives alike.

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Change Comes From the Bottom Up

During the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was asked if she would describe herself as a liberal. A serious enough question you might say, but the audience laughed.Why? Mainly, I think, because“liberal” has long been such an effective political pejorative we can hardlyimagine a major presidential contender embracing the label. The laughter anticipated an almost certainevasion. How will she wiggle out of this one?

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Green on Our Minds

I have no quarrel with David Tebaldi calling global warming a moral issue, and certainly share his dismay at the notion that for Christians to be concerned about it takes attention away from the real moral issues – “abortion and sexual morality.” But even as he writes, this group of reactionary Christian politicians is already being marginalized by a groundswell of support for action on global warming.

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Global warming IS a moral issue

In March 2007, leaders of several conservative Christian groups sent a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals complaining that the organization’s focus on global warming is diverting attention from “the great moral issues of our time,”namely abortion and sexual morality.

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Teaching and Learning the F Word

In classes I teach, a female student invariably tosses this one into conversation, using the phrase to make sure that, despite what she is about to say, no one should think badly of her. And I have taught many different kinds of students, from a variety of backgrounds in a variety of settings. Still the same sentence:"I am not a feminist." The statement is always striking– not only because students rarely come up with anything self-consciously radical in many classroom conversations, but …

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A Black Womans Musings on Gender Studies

In my undergraduate studies I always took RACE classes, and by RACE I mean any course that involved the history, situation(s), actions to and by, black folk. That was mything. At New York University, I pursued the ways in which our fabulous leading entertainment industry and ensuing culture (aka Hollywood) began and remains inextricably linked to another powerful and permeating instrument – race.

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Teaching about Race

Mervan Osborne’s recent post made agreat deal of sense to me. As a formerhigh school history and humanities teacher (independent and public schools) and a member of the Education Department at Tufts, I found that race was a topic that, in some way, shape, manner, or form I had to address with my students everyday. The term, as we all know, is loaded. It carries with it a great deal of baggage. Our students have generally learned that it is a subject to avoid in public, because it can suddenly turn explosive.

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Addressing Race in School: Thoughts on the Evolution of the Black and White Discussion in the American Classroom

In June of 1990, five hundred recent college graduates convened at the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to participate in Teach For America’s inaugural Summer Teaching Institute. Over the next ten weeks, these idealistic and energetic young people participated in education classes and workshops taught by an all-star roster of instructors from around the country and worked as teacher’s assistants in some of the most challenging schools throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

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The History of Moving Images

Lisa Simmons’ assertion that Hollywood films by and largecontinue to feature damaging stereotypes of African Americans strikes me astrue. But Ms. Simmons’ urging that independent thinkers create images which challenge these stereotypes makes me wonder about the origin and nature of moving images and just what it is that makes them so influential. The history of moving images is remarkably short compared to that of writing, painting and music making.

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Mammy, Jezebel, and the Neighborhood Drug Dealer

In Search of the Common Good by fellow Public Humanist David Tebaldi talks about America suffering from two anxieties, one of them economic and the other moral. I found this conversation very interesting in light of the work I do as an independent film and theater producer and the president of a nonprofit the Color of Film Collaborative, Inc., a nonprofit that supports independent filmmakers creating more diverse images of people of color in the media and performing arts.

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