Mercy & Justice Round-Up: April Edition

m&j apr

Do we as a nation have a shared common memory? Why do NYC public schools remain some of the most segregated in the country? What is the history and current state of solitary confinement in American prisons? You’ll find articles and videos that speak to these questions and more in this month’s Mercy & Justice Round-Up.

As always, this is a collection of content that got us thinking lately and includes a range of perspectives— some we agree with, others we might not. We hope you’ll read, listen, learn and love better with us.

  • “We do not as a nation share a common memory,” says Mark Charles in his Q Ideas talk on the Doctrine of Discovery, which put forth a theology that allowed for a Declaration of Independence that assumes Native Americans are not human. Charles, the son of an American woman and Navajo man, exhorts us to confess the sins of our nation, properly lament, and put our hope in God bringing good out of mess when we humble ourselves.
  • Last month’s news that only seven out of 895 slots for incoming freshman at Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s most selective schools, were offered to black students fueled criticism of the continued segregation of NYC public schools. The New York Times put together a short history of attempts to integrate NYC public schools (as well as the ensuing protests) over the last 50 years.
  • In “The case against solitary confinement,” Vox provides an in-depth look at solitary confinement, including its origin and history, what it’s really like (7x10 foot cell for 22+ hours per day with few activities), and the adverse psychological consequences it has. Currently, some 61,000 people are in solitary confinement on any given day in the U.S.
  • “Listening thrives on living room couches and front porch conversations; through neighborhood potlucks and playdates,” writes Mary Beth Meadows in CCDA’s Lenten Immerse: Hospitality. “You can’t expect to fit ‘listen to the community’ into your empty calendar slots. Real listening happens over time as we build relationships with one another.”
  • “Educational inequality is driven by the compounding privileges of the most advantaged residents.” So says a new sociological paper summarized in this CityLab article on the power of privileged neighborhoods. The gist? Focusing efforts and pouring resources into disadvantaged neighborhoods is counterproductive and misses the core problems, which are found outside of these neighborhoods.