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Justice Education

Reflections on Hope

Soundbites from past Virtues & Vocations webinars

““My tension with hope is with the hope that people want that absolves them of accountability and aspiration. There is a pragmatic hope that I think is as foundational to the inception of the western world—and certainly the United States of America—as is the idea of democracy. Because our democracy was founded at the same time that global enslavement was created and shaped, the two go hand in hand—the pragmatic hope of the enslaved and the false promise of the democracy of this country. That kind of pragmatic hope is the kind I traffic in, and it is one that frankly, yes, I think the majority culture should probably get more familiar with, and we would all be better off if they did. It is the idea that you will not always see the good ends of your good deeds, but you do them anyway. You do them anyway.” 

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Associate Professor, UNC School of Information and Library Science and author of Thick and Lower Ed

“Lately I find myself saying I am both optimistic and hopeful, and I’m rarely both of those at the same time. I feel like the Black Lives Matter movement has jostled something very significant in the country and I think it has awakened a language that’s given people a facility to be generous and magnanimous. The idea is how do we widen the container that we previously had locked ourselves in. And the more we do that, we become spacious and expansive as the God who loves us without measure and without regret.”

Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart

“The thing I’m most hopeful for is a revitalization of all the ways of living—including in institutions—all the things that have made the American tradition lively, vital, creative, fair, just . . . Remember I said no person is perfect, and neither is any country. But all of the institutions and ways of living in the American tradition that have given young people, especially, hope—the American dream and all of that—my hope is that will be revitalized. That’s my hope.”

Bill Damon, Stanford University Professor of Education and author of The Path to Purpose

“A point of hope or optimism I have: I’m deeply encouraged by the students I encounter, both at my own university and around the country. I don’t agree with everything they say and they have their share of problems, but also, I increasingly am thinking that all of the pundits who are talking about Gen Z might actually not get the nuance of who Gen Z is. And in the day-to-day of lived people, these are ambitious, kind, thoughtful students. They are defying the stereotypes that I often read about them. They are diving into hard questions. They are willing to be challenged in their ideas.”

John Inazu, Washington University at St. Louis Professor of Law & Religion and author of Confident Pluralism

“I am hopeful about the fact that computing and institutions in general, especially PWIs—predominantly white institutions—are finally acknowledging that white supremacy and racism are a thing and that Black people and brown people no longer have to be the only people fighting and saying that these things happen and being gaslit and told that its not.”

Nicki Washington, Duke University Professor of the Practice of Computer Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field