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Session 2

Defining the Issues/Terms

This session revolves around defining and understanding pertinent concepts in today’s contentious discourse.   

Session2

Large index cards, markers, poster board

Make copies of all sources, the situation cards (on card stock if possible) and handouts, write or paste the questions on the index cards

Participants will know:

Definitions and understandings of:

  • The  differences between the 1619 and the 1776 origin stories  of the U.S.

Participants will be able to:

Apply the makhloket framework they created in session 1 as they discuss the different issues.

Enduring Understanding

  • We are engaging in two reckonings, not one–one over the legacy of race and racism–and one over how to have the discussion about race and racism. 
  • There are three different narratives about America–one America as a great nation; another is that America is a great  but imperfect nation; and a third is American is a  nation born and living in the original sin of slavery. Each is playing out in the public discussion
  • Underlying the public debate over “Critical Race Theory” are substantive questions of whether or not systemic racism is a debatable proposition and what it does and doesn’t explain. 

Essential Questions

  • To what degree is the current public debate over “cancel culture” a normal evolution in social norms and to what degree does it represent a fundamental break with liberal values and free expression? 
  • What, if any, should the redlines be in shunning or marginalizing certain views or voices in the public discussion?
  • How does Critical Race Theory, wokeness, etc. impact public debate, free speech, and cancel culture? 
  • How are issues of race and racism and cancel culture dealt with in your community?

As a group, watch:

Discuss how/if the pre-session materials and videos watched in-session address the following: 

  • To what degree is the current public debate over “cancel culture” a normal evolution in social norms and to what degree does it represent a fundamental break with liberal values and free expression? 
  • What, if any, should the redlines be in shunning or marginalizing certain views or voices in the public discussion?

Torah Introduction:  

Read the verses and essays aloud with the group and discuss the ideas in it. It offers different takes on what Judaism might say about cancel culture. Encourage participants to reflect on these and offer up their opinions, ideas and additional thoughts.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

(17) Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt— (18) how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. (19) Therefore, when your God יהוה grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that your God יהוה is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

Activity 1

Explain to participants:  We are going to begin by exploring the following question about the popular term Cancel Culture:  To what degree is the current public debate over “cancel culture” a normal evolution in social norms and to what degree does it represent a fundamental break with liberal values and free expression?  

Break participants into groups of 2-4. Then explain: First we are going to look at some sources* regarding the ideas of cancel culture and liberalism. After looking through these sources, try to come up with an answer to the question and jot down other thoughts, experiences and feelings relating to both terms. Each group should come up with a reflection on the articles and an attempt to address the question. Not everyone in the group has to agree. Then have all the participants join so that each group can share their reflections around the cancel culture question. (“Note Sheet”?)

The sources:

*A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper’s Magazine

Excerpt of Stop Firing the Innocent – The Atlantic (Full Article)

Excerpt of There Is Only Culture – Arc Digital (Full Article)

 

Conclude with the following: 

Ask participants to reflect on and discuss: How do these theories/ideologies  play out in the current public debate on race issues?

Ask participants to share their experiences of how issues of race, racism and cancel culture are dealt with in their community?

Additional (optional in leu of time) Exercise: Activity 2

Activity 2

Break up the whole group into 2-4 smaller groups. Each participant will receive copies of the essays below. Each group will receive 6 large blank index cards and 6 smaller index cards each with a different word or phrase: Critical Race Theory, Critical Justice Theory, Intersectionality, Standpoint Theory, Liberalism, and Cancel Culture. As a group they will try to come up with concise working definitions of each of the above words and then write each definition on a separate large index card.

Then each group will mix up their definitions, put them in an envelope and hand them to a different group. 

Then each group takes the other groups’ definitions out of the envelope and see if they can match them up with the word or phrase being defined. If the participants want to add a little competition or urgency, let them know that the first group to successfully identify and match the other groups’ definitions wins. 

The goal is to really familiarize them with the terms, but also see how different people might define these terms, so if it helps there can be more rounds of “play” if there are more than 2 groups. 

Resources for this activity, along with the ones that they read before this session.

The Problem with Intersectional Feminism – Areo

Who Decides What’s Racist? – Persuasion

Standpoint Theory

Kimberlé Crenshaw: What is Intersectionality?YouTube

Intersectionality 101 – YouTube

Op-Ed: The anti-Israel trend you’ve never heard of