“When Literature Hurts and Texts Do Not Bring Healing”: Teaching “The Color Purple”

“When Literature Hurts and Texts Do Not Bring Healing”: Teaching “The Color Purple”

Teaching Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” (TCP) for a second time is never an easy task for me. When I first began to teach the book last fall semester (2018), I thought that I was emotionally fit and intellectually strong to do it. The more I study and understand the violence, oppression, and abuse–sexual, economic, verbal, psychological, societal, systemic, structural, spiritual, mental, patriarchal–the women characters (i.e. Celie Nettie, Shug, Sofia, Odessa, Olivia) in the text suffer and experience, and compare the shared experiences of women to the various forms of human evil, masculine strongholds and assaults, and toxic forces haunting the lives of women in the contemporary American society, I begin to bear some of those burdens, psychologically and mentally. TCP exposes the reality of psychological fragmentation and emotional burden in the female experience and feminist consciousness; the novel is also an inescapable discourse of textual crisis.

Last fall semester, as I was teaching the novel, a male student stopped attending the course for a month because he could no longer sustain the emotional burden of the text–as he informed me privately. In the middle of class lecture, a young woman shouted, “Some of the things that happened to Celie also happened to me.” The whole class turned their gaze toward her; as a result, she muted her voice.

This spring semester, in a recent class lecture as I was attempting to establish connections and parallels (i.e. woman suffering, rape, abuse, wife-beating) between the lives of women in the novel and the testimonies of the women in the #METOO movement, two young women burst into tears and cried for almost the entire class. Two other young ladies walked out of the class. Several of them (female students) put their heads down. The class was in absolute silence for the next 10 minutes. Everyone was starring me, unable to utter a word!

At the end of our uneasy dialogue, I told the class courageously, “Unfortunately, sometimes in life we have to go through pain and suffering in order to find healing, peace, and an escape. However, it does not always have to be that way.” I will not teach Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” in the next semester or in the academic year, 2019-2020. I am taking a mental break from TCP.

A year ago, when I told my colleague, DrDanny Hoey, that I was planning to teach Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” He kindly asked me, to paraphrase him, “Celucien, are you (emotionally and mentally) ready and prepared.” He advised me to hold on to the Morrison’s text, but start with Walker. I thought that I was ready to confront the force and revolutionary pen of Alice Walker’s pen.

I estimate that profound and honest textual exegesis and creative hermeneutics of a good text could potentially lead to both emotional pain and psychological healing, even holistic transformation.

Reading a novel and teaching it are two different beasts!

“Education Matters and Public Policies Against Educating Poor American Families Hurt Them and Hurt the Future of this Country”

“Education Matters and Public Policies Against Educating Poor American Families Hurt Them and Hurt the Future of this Country”

Today in the middle of class lecture as we were discussing some of the major themes (i.e. reason vs faith, education, the intellectual life) in James Baldwin’s novel, “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” I took a short pause from that to teach my students about the implications of the message of this novel to their personal and public life, and the impact of Baldwin’s ideas on the civil and political societies.

I turned to them and looked at the class intently, and declared: “Every area of our lives engages the political life; whether we want to acknowledge it or not, conscious or unconscious about it, life is about making political decisions.”

I made that statement in class so that my students could reflect critically about the value of education that is promoted in the novel by the major character John when he uses reason and his intellect to balance the seemingly tension between faith and reason. Arguably, the point I wanted to convey to this group of young men and women (the oldest one in the classroom is in her late 30s, the rest of them are between 16 to 21 yrs old) was this, in the form of a question I asked them: “Where in the world would you pay $ 100.00 per credit hr and $ 300.00 for a 3 credit hour course and graduate with a 2 or 4 yr degree without having to take a dime in student loans?”

“The fact that most of you (about 75% of our students receive financial aids and do not pay to attend #IRSC) are attending college here for free.” (I would also argue that colleges in this country should be free to all students; no one shouldn’t have to pay to go to college if your parents make less than $100,000 annually; the median salary for the middle class Americans is under $ 75,000). Further, I also stated in class, “This is a political decision you made when you pay taxes and vote people to occupy the public office. You may not realize it, but it is the true.”

It is only at #IRSC, one of the most affordable 4 yr state colleges in the nation ( I believe we are listed as # 3 in a recent survey on U.S. National Colleges), I told them that you are receiving a quality of education without getting into debt. My underlying thesis was this: “Stay in School. Get an education. Don’t be lazy. Work Hard. Stop procrastinating.Study for your classes. Have a disciplined mind. Graduate, leave #IRSC campus, and Get a Life!”

***Notably, the majority of our student population at Indian River State College come from economically-disadvantaged and poor families, where some of their parents work two jobs and a sizeable number of our students must work also to afford the basic needs of life and help their parents with the bills while going to school–taking a full load every semester.

As a result, we middle class American families and American educators should get angry about the recent proposal from the Trump administration against educating the poor and underserved American families and population:

“The Trump administration is looking to decrease the Education Department’s funding by $7.1 billion compared to what it was given last year, as part of next year’s proposed budget.The budget proposal suggests eliminating 29 programs, including after-school and summer programs for students in high-poverty areas, among other things.”

Click on the link below for more information:

https://abcn.ws/2TJECTz

What will poor American families do? How will the economically-disavantaged students and families survive when the government is going to cut assistance for education?

If a country is not investing in educating its citizens, especially the economically-disavantaged group, it is in fact heightening the already existing inequality gap between the poor and the rich. This country is making its way to further economic decline and moral bankruptcy.

“Molding their Hearts: Mentoring Black Boys to become Men of Dignity and Civil Servants”

“Molding their Hearts: Mentoring Black Boys to become Men of Dignity and Civil Servants”

Sitting outside on the beautiful lawn of the #IRSC Vero Beach campus with my invisible friend, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays…

As I continue reading Mays’ autobiography, the paragraph below caught my attention. It is from a speech he delivered in 1926 , which he entitled “The Goal,” to young High School Black boys in South Carolina. Before I share the paragraph with you, allow me to turn your attention to Mays’ conviction about the importance to inspire and mentor black boys in our culture:

“I accepted the invitation, and I worked hard on that speech because I knew that Negro high school students from all over South Carolina would be there. I knew, too, that these Negro boys needed inspiration as surely and as sadly as I had needed it when I was a frustrated lad in Greenwood County onlu a few years before. It was a tremendously gratifying to me that when I finished speaking, those Negro boys, hungry as they had been for someone to speak to their souls, sprang spontaneously to their feet and applauded long and loud.”

I took a shot of the paragraph from the book:

A morning prayer for the City:

A morning prayer for the City:

Let us beseech the God of the City in intercessory prayer for the safety of the city and for his love and grace to reign supreme in the heart of every individual and household.

Let us welcome the Spirit of God to the city so he could move without restraint.

Let us invite the Son to rise up in every corner and public and private place in the city.

Let every heart and household in the city surrender deliberately to the will and sovereignty of the rising Son, the love of the Father, and the comfort of the consuming Spirit!

Amen!

Announcing “Haiti: Then and Now Podcast”

Announcing “Haiti: Then and Now Podcast”

I’m looking for some suggestions:

If I create an online podcast via Skype that will involve interviewing and dialoguing with Haitian and Haitianist (both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora) scholars, writers, leaders, thinkers, activists, politicians, educators, professionals, etc., would you be interested to listen to it and share it online with friends?

1. It will be a once-a-month podcast with a YouTube channel.

2. It will be conducted in two languages: Creole and English

3. Our conversations/The podcast will be between 30 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Who would like me to interview?

5. What topics would you like us to talk about it?

My Interview with Dr. Maggie Remy on Current Affairs and Situation in Haiti 🇭🇹

My Interview with Dr. Maggie Remy on Current Affairs and Situation in Haiti 🇭🇹

” In this interview, Dr. Maggie Remy, the host of Sak Pase Radio Show have a heart to heart discussion about The current situation in Haiti. We discuss social economic determinants of the people. Why are we still where we are today?

Corruption
Education
Sanitation
Health
The role of the Diaspora. Why are we not involved or better yet not allowed to be involved.”

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2209696925758579&id=100001548791037

A 25-Year Christian History in Haiti Project in the Making…. “

“A 25-Year Christian History in Haiti Project in the Making…. ”

When I am done publishing my intellectual biographies on Jean Price-Mars (under contract) and Jean-Bertrand Aristide (under contract), I would like to take on this massive research project for the next twenty to twenty-five years of my life–if the Lord allows me to do so. I will be 68 years old when I complete this five-volume anticipated work (I will be 41 tomorrow: March 6).

1. The Story of Christianity in Haiti Vol. 1: From Slavery to the Haitian Revolution (1517-1804)

2. The Story of Christianity in Haiti Vol 2: From the Birth of Haiti to the End of the American Occupation (1804-1934)

3. The Story of Christianity in Haiti Vol 3: The Emergence of Haitian Evangelicalism and the Indigenous Church (1934-1986)

4. The Story of Christianity in Haiti Vol 4: The Post-Duvalier Church

5. The Church in Exile: A History of Haitian Protestantism in the United States Vol 5: Methods, Testimony, Practices, and (Re-) Adaptation

The State of Haitian Studies

To Those of You Who Work Outside of the Academic World: here’s a little hint to understand how the mind of academics functions and how knowledge in the academia is constructed, deconstructed, subverted, and circulated; please allow me to provide one example among others:

The least unexplored area in contemporary Haitian Studies (CHS) is Haitian (Christian) Protestantism. The most explored terrain in CHS as it relates to the Haitian experience in religion is Vodou. This disciplinary crisis is so serious and broad that one wouldn’t find a full published text in the English language on the birth and evolution of Haitian Protestant Christianity.

By contrast, in contemporary African American Studies (CAAS), Black Protestant Christianity is the most investigated religious expression. All other religious manifestations in black are peripheral and marginalized.