By: Jim Tull
On an early May morning, 2014, I was fast asleep in a room in a house atop a mountain on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. There and then I had a dream. The otherwise busy dream featured a brief but vivid shouting match between me and Martin Luther King. No mistaking it was King. I was vaguely aware of what I was excited to share with my teacher [we never met in waking life], but the exchange did not last beyond this:
Me “I have something to tell you!” [delivered with some enthusiastic intensity]
Martin “No, you listen to me!” [with escalated intensity]
Me “No, you don’t understand!” [holding the intensity]
Martin “No, you don’t understand!” [escalating a bit]
Then Martin seamlessly vanished into the ether of the dream, which carried on with no apparent connection to this encounter (besides, stretching a lot, my brother-in-law and I noticing the high ocean tide gently lapping against the back of our beach house). It isn’t any more characteristic of me to engage in such substanceless shouting matches as it was of MLK. I recall, in the dream, wanting to sit down and have a certain dialogue, but he just let into me (of course, this is my reporting of the event!). In his response, no doubt, there is a message for me. But in the dream analysis meantime, I will settle for sharing, in a letter, the thought I was so excited to have the chance to run by Martin, but could not:
Note: This article was originally published on Women in Theology and is the first of what will be a three part series.
How could anyone expect to profit from unpayable loans without debtors who were already marked by their racial/cultural difference ensuring that at least some among them would not be able to pay? This is precisely what makes 'high-risk' securities profitable. The Black and Latino/a holders of subprime loans, like Dana, owe incomprehensible and unpayable monetary debts precisely because they are not constructed as referents of either the relationship between persons presumed in commerce (which Graeber states precedes all other economic circumstances) or the capacity that according to Karl Marx ultimately determines their value of exchange (the productivity which John Locke, David Ricardo, and Marx agreed elevated the human thing). (Denise Ferreira Da Silva and Paula Chakravartty, Accumulation, Dispossession, and Debt, 367)
Money promises value, as Philip Goodchild announces in the quote above. The promise of value is also the production of more money. Because money promises value, for more value to be created, more money must be created. In Goodchild's elaboration, this creation of money to satiate the value it promises is the creation of debt. That is, the promise of value requires the creation of debt in order to produce value.
If money, according to Goodchild, is the promise of value ”a promise which creates debt” blackness, following Ferraira da Silva and Chakravartty's analysis, is the invention of an indelible indebtedness, the promise of a permanent inability to pay the debt that money creates. Blackness' indebtedness is a demarcation of the threat that is named poverty. The threat of poverty in the US is figured as black as the threat of global poverty is figured as Africa. The threat of poverty that blackness represents is the threat that secures the promise of money's value. In other words, money is valuable and desirable because its accumulation is how one proves they are not-black. Goodchild understands the threat to value as exclusion from participation in social life and the loss of freedom:
By: Nichola Torbett
During the summer between third and fourth grade, I moved with my mom and sister into a new school district. In my new fourth grade classroom that fall, one student was designated each day to take the attendance slip from the teacher, leave the room, and…do something. All I knew is that the chosen one would come back a few minutes later without the little pink slip. After a few weeks, my turn came. I took the little pink slip, walked out the door as I had seen other kids do, and had no idea what to do.
Now, at this point, you may be wondering why I didn’t just ask the teacher where I was supposed to go with it. That is exactly what another teacher asked me when she found me wandering the halls in tears several minutes later. I didn’t have an answer then, but looking back, I can see that by the age of nine, I had already figured out that I was supposed to know things, that knowledge was not only power but protection from being taken advantage of. To this day, it is hard for me to ask for directions. In unfamiliar neighborhoods, I duck into alleys so that no one will see me consult the map, and I am adept at reading subway maps surreptitiously out of the corner of my eye. When someone gives me information, I am always tempted to tell them that I already knew that.
Being a knower feels safe to me, and yet I am coming to see that, like so many other forms of safety and invulnerability, being a knower is a trap. It’s a trap especially for me as a white cis-gendered person with middle class connections and especially when it comes to Kingdom justice. Let me explain.
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