Yesterday I had a unique opportunity to speak to Bronxville High School in the center of Bronxville New York. Some of the students put together a profound schedule to discuss issues of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation.
The school was divided into several groups, and each group rotated to different speakers all day long. With 50 minutes, I was commissioned to speak on class issues and income inequality around the world.
Most of you who know me understand this is not in the center of my wheelhouse, but I did have the chance to show how income inequality may not be the measure of equality. My class discussed the need to see each person as human no matter where they sit on the economic ladder. So when the group of students, who live in a community with an average household income above $250K a year, learn to see the "Us. vs. Them Narrative" in a human way...it allows us to reduce this public discussion to individual relationship. In any event, I had a great time with lively discussions.
Last night, I was graciously invited to have dinner with one of the keynote speakers. Robert Jensen is a professor from the University of Texas Journalism School. He presented several sessions discussing the need for us to re-evaluate our view of America in light of Race, Gender, and Class. Advocating for a less "white supremacist" America, Dr. Jenson raised some interesting views on who we are, who we want to be, and how we might begin to get there.
As I sat around this small dinner table, my heart was filled with gratefulness. Not many people are willing or able to discuss these harsh issues that invade our most intimate views of the world without just dismissing 'the other.' I found myself disagreeing with most of Dr. Jensen's views; unable to simply ignore the history of living in a culture like America where we have a long way to go concerning Race, Gender and Class issues. But in light of the rest of the world, America is a country willing to wrestle with such hot-button issues.
I'm so thankful for my friends here in New York who are ok to disagree with each other without the threat of diminishing a friendship. Say what you will about the North East, but these folks aren't simply going to just swim in the same culture for the sake of being nice. They're willing to challenge the status quo, ask hard questions, and agree to disagree while hosting with ultimate hospitality.
Thank you to the families who made this event possible. And thanks to Matt Behrens, a Bronxville High School Student willing to talk about the tough issues facing our nation.