The Commonplace #7
- I discovered a new podcast, Everything Happens. Especially relevant for days of difficulty, the episodes feature people who have learned from dark times. The host is Karen Bowler, a Duke professor of religion, a writer and mother who herself experienced the difficulty of a cancer diagnosis. Her conversations with people like Wes Moore, Mia Birdsong, and Sanita Puri are compelling and interesting. Give it a listen – the series is more upbeat and uplifting than it sounds, and Bowler has one of those voices and demeanors well-suited to audio.
- I may have been too quick to critique higher education for not responding in substantive ways to needed challenges. At Boston University, Ibram Kendi just founded the Center for Anti-Racist Research in June 2020. Kendi is no newcomer to this work, and the Center will occupy some of the same physical space where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied. You can read Kendi’s eloquent statement here. I was particularly struck by his words on possibility in this moment of turmoil and change:
“…I have not lost faith in the beauty of human potential, and the possibilities of a world where life, health, equity, and justice are inalienable human rights. We must believe change is possible in order to bring about change. We must be willing to do the hard research and policy and narrative and advocacy work to bring about change. We are willing.”
- If all else fails, turn on some jazz. Samora Pinderhughes reminds us that, “Our best musicians in the jazz tradition were radical imaginers.” He joined these ranks with The Transformation Suite, a powerful multi-media work that includes a call for social justice and a reminder of difficult historic progress. Jazz has a long-standing connection to social justice concerns. Not only that, jazz artists are the best kinds of innovators, from the New Orleans music scene of the 1890s that gave rise to the form to perhaps the most well-known jazz artist, Miles Davis, who offered us a number of lessons in innovation. And, the innovators keep coming in modern jazz and fusion. Try this tune from The Comet is Coming, a project of the UK’s talented Shabaka Hutchings: