Time Magazine editor talks about restorative justice and social change in the fight against division

Time Magazine editor-in-chief Anand Giridharadas argued that there was still room to counter the cultural and political divisions present in America. Giridharadas spoke at the Emory Center for Ethics ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Restoring Justice and Civil Discourse’ virtual event on November 4 on restorative justice and the role of civil discourse in social transformation .

“We are in a moment in this potentially exciting country,” said Giridharadas. “After 400 years of denying the origins of this country in black subjugation, we have an honest record of our history.”

The event was the second annual “James W. Fowler’s Conversations on Ethics,” following last year’s inaugural event that shed light on Ibram X. Kendi. This year, Giridharadas struck up a conversation with Robert Franklin, Professor James T. and Berta R. Laney in Moral Leadership.

Anand Giridharadas (left) and Robert Franklin (right)

He previously worked as a columnist and correspondent for The New York Times and also wrote for The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among other publications. He received the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanism in Culture from Harvard University (Mass.), The Poynter Fellowship in Journalism from Yale University (Connecticut), the Helen Bernstein Award from the New York Public Library and the 800- CEO-READ Business Book award of the year.

Franklin, previously a Visiting Resistance Fellow at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, Calif., Is currently President Emeritus of Morehouse College (Ga.).

Giridharadas noted that the United States is going through a demographic transformation that “puts the United States ahead of any other wealthy country in the world by democratically choosing to become a superpower of color – a country without a majority race.”

He said he believed the divisions among the people in America stemmed from a revolt against that inevitable future.

“We live in a struggle between people who want this future to come and people who would rather break America than share it,” Giridharadas said.

He said the civil discourse on the future required structural change by directly challenging those in positions of authority and “asking a lot of people to relinquish power.”

Giridharadas noted that this change can be difficult to implement.

“The challenge is that it’s hard to fight for things without your cause seeming totally exhausting people most of the time, without making people feel like you are the thought police – without that it makes people feel like they’re stepping on it. eggshells, ”Giridharadas said.

He used an analogy to develop this thought.

“If our party – and I mean a party in the sense of a dance party, not a political party – isn’t more fun than their party, we have a problem,” Giridharadas said. “Our party is certainly fairer than the party of ignorance, racism and xenophobia. But I think sometimes our party is tedious and exhausting, and you’re afraid to go because you’re afraid to say something wrong.

Reflecting on the importance of this ‘fun’, Franklin referred to the role of music and the arts in social change movements in the 1960s, when people didn’t take themselves ‘too seriously’.

Giridharadas said that at the time, demands for freedom were underlined by music and art.

“Freedom was a set of arguments, but it was also something embodied,” Giridharadas said. “I don’t think we fit that today.”

When asked to consider the roles philanthropists and universities need to play in change, Giridharadas said that the money donated by philanthropists is “poorly raised money” that should have been used for them. wages, taxes and social damage mitigation. Money, he said, is fundamentally a stolen resource.

Giridharas brought up the example of Jeff Bezos making donations to schools for the same children whose parents he underpays, to stress that members of a foundation must ask themselves: “Am I pushing things in a way?” direction where there could never be Jeff Bezos again? ? “

Speaking about the role of universities, Giridharadas said they have to be careful about who and what they choose to fund. Giridharadas explained that universities often end up funding the problems they claim to oppose, allowing them to develop further. Taking Jefferey Epistein as an example, he said universities like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology “sold him a service by boosting his reputation which was then used to harm others.”

A short question-and-answer session followed the discussion, in which participants asked questions about the progress being made towards the restoration of justice. When asked how individuals can help organize large groups of people against a wealthy and powerful few, Giridharadas said a significant change involves changes in civil rights, immigration laws and others. policies, rather than individual actions.

Giridharadas pointed out that the real change that “opened up a society and spread equality” happened when people came together. He added that there are still ways to get involved, including political organization, writing, working as an academic and teaching in academia and running for office.

In response to Kathy Kinlaw, associate director of the Emory Center for Ethics, on Giridharadas’ thoughts on the future of nonviolent work like that of Dr Martin Luther King, Giridharadas responded that the country had, to Trump’s day, explicitly embraced political violence.

“There is a group of people who would rather break this country than share it,” Giridharadas said. “But, those of us who prefer to share the country are much more numerous and plan to survive them.”

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