Thanks to the support of Humanities New York, I’m excited to be facilitating a free, public reading and discussion series on the topic of “service and social justice” in fall 2019. I’ve only recently begun to understand myself as a social justice worker and ally, but service has always been part of my approach to life. Whether that comes from the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) or from being the child of teachers or from knowing what it feels like to be bullied, service to me seems fully entwined with justice, curiosity, and what the Buddhists call “non-judgment”. In a perfect world, we would all be in service to our planet and to each other. But this is not a perfect world and neither service nor justice are simple propositions.
In this discussion group, we’ll ask: What does it mean to be “of service”, to “civically engage”, to work towards “social justice”? Are these phrases synonymous with or critical of one another? We will read together pieces from writers, poets, teachers, and orators such as Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Cade Bambara, Eve Tuck, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Robin D.G. Kelley to explore how different thinkers have navigated through these complicated, human questions. By exploring their words, we will begin to craft our own sense of what it means to live with, and be responsible for, each other.
If you’re interested in following along, you can access at least some of our collaboration at this web site: https://wp.nyu.edu/whatisservice/