Monday, June 13, 2016

Responding to Orlando

By Craig Hovey

We at the Ashland Center for Nonviolence join with so many others throughout the world in mourning the shooting in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in US history. There is just too much to mourn at once: the 49 lives lost, the 53 additional wounded, the terror felt especially by LGBT people, the inevitable backlash against Muslims in the US, the increasingly shrill tone of the debate about assault rifles, and the opportunistic political responses that jump on one or the other of these facets.

What is the meaning of nonviolence at times like this? I remain convinced that nonviolence is never just about ending violence; it is also a spirit that seeks justice through peaceful means. There are competing ideas about justice in our world, of course. After all, it appears that the gunman in Orlando was motivated by a version of “justice” understood as punishment and moral condemnation. But this separates justice and peace; we must hold them together. “There is no way to peace,” said A.J. Muste. “Peace is the way.”

I am aware that quoting Muste’s famous words risks sounding like a platitude, especially at a time like this.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Obama Won't Apologize for Hiroshima

By Craig Hovey

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima is historic—he is the first sitting president to visit there—and he spoke movingly and philosophically about the desire for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to mark the “start of our own moral awakening.” But observers also noted that Japan should not expect an apology for America’s actions 71 years ago. Why not?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial - Wikipedia

According to Stanley Hauerwas, war is a sacrificial system which, like anthropologists have long noted about religion, sacralizes violence through ritual. Even when surrounded by the most rigorously secular discourse, war often takes on a quasi-religious significance for a society, especially in how it is remembered. It is very difficult for a society to admit that an entire war was wrong (Vietnam) or that particular acts within a war otherwise thought justified might be wrong (Hiroshima) because admitting this calls into question all of the sacrifices that that society asked of its people when it waged those wars in the first place.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ACN receives Outstanding Award for MLK Day 2015

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence was recently honored at the Ashland University Service and Leadership Awards ceremony for our 2015 Martin Luther King Day event featuring civil rights legend C. T. Vivian.

For Martin Luther King Day 2015, the Ashland Center for Nonviolence bridged the AU campus and the wider community through an event featuring the civil rights legend, C.T. Vivian. At 91 years old, Dr. Vivian addressed a crowd of 650 attendees in Upper Convo, discussing his personal friendship with Martin Luther King, as well as his impressive involvement in pioneering activities for desegregation and civil rights such as the famous 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Faith & Ferguson: Coming soon to Ashland

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence is joining with the Ashland University's Religion Department to host musician and activist Michelle Higgins on April 20-21. She will have a full schedule preaching, teaching and conducting workshops with Ashland students. A number of the events are free and open to the public:

Wednesday, April 20

Workshop: Nonviolent de-escalation in the midst of crisis,  Eagle’s Landing, Hawkins-Conard Student Center
“Last” Lecture: Your Faith for Justice, Ridenour Room, College of Business
Thursday, April 21

Conversation: The New Civil Rights Movement After Ferguson, Ronk Lecture Theater, College of Education
Sermon: Praying with your Feet, The Well, Miller Chapel

"It is exciting for us to have Michelle Higgins coming to campus," said Peter Slade, chair of the Religion Department. "Here at Ashland University we are always trying to make connections between our faith and the communities we live in and serve. Michelle will bring her wealth of experience and wisdom and help us understand the responsibilities and opportunities we have as Christians to engage with these issues of justice and race." Michelle will be speaking in Dr. Slade's class Religion and the Civil Rights Movement. "It is important for us to realize that the movement didn't stop with the passage of the Civil Rights Act or the assassination of Dr. King," Slade said. "This is a living history that calls people of faith to action today."

The Director of Worship and Outreach at South City Church  in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis, Michelle is actively engaged in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She has participated in civil disobedience, leadership development, logistics and administrative support in both sacred and secular spaces.

Michelle is the Director of Faith for Justice, a Christian advocacy group founded in 2014 dedicated to continuing the biblical story of activism. Faith for Justice promotes and leads public justice actions and events that connect faith communities to the movements that seek to dignify and humanize Black lives.

Though working primarily as a local organizer, Michelle’s work is challenging the wider church. She rose to national prominence with her plenary speech at Urbana 2015, the annual InterVarsity Student Missions Conference. The New York Times commented “in her wide-ranging comments about social justice, Ms. Higgins did little to make her speech more palatable.” The Washington Post concurred,Michelle Higgins has been making waves.” The Evangelical publication Christianity Today described her historic speech as "powerful and prophetic testimony.”

Michelle holds an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis and lives in North City with her husband Sean Loftin, and their two children - Moses and Matilda

InterVarsity made this short video introduction to Michelle and her work:

The Possibility of Peace

By Emily Wirtz

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Miki, who was a guest in my American Literature IV class with Dr. Jayne Waterman, for what I thought would be a brief, perhaps 30-minute discussion over dinner. What happened was a two-hour discussion (getting us scolded out of Convo) about our own experiences of culture. We talked about television and the perception of anime and movies, politics and the voting process—in the light of the upcoming election—the perceptions of violence and control, history, and the perception of foreigners, among a plethora of other topics.

It’s incredible, and I think very important, to be able to see and understand how vastly different we all are. Miki also works as an intern for International Student Services on campus, and it was equally intriguing to get her own insights. She expressed that while she is aware of her own uniqueness as an international student, there is also an incredible amount of diversity our national resident students may not even realize. As a full-time international student (as opposed to partaking in a semester- or year-long exchange program), Miki is able to develop lasting relationships with the students she helps, even with a clear language and cultural barrier.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Joe Ehrmann - Coming soon to Ashland!

Nonviolence is always a team effort. At the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, we're constantly looking for ways to join forces with friends working in areas that matter. We're especially excited to team up with the Ashland County Community Foundation Women's Fund and the Ashland University Gridiron Club in order to bring Joe Ehrmann to town this March to talk about sports, masculinity, and violence against women.

Joe Ehrmann is a former NFL defensive lineman who is now an educator, author, activist, minister and motivational speaker. He was an All-American football player at Syracuse University, was selected to the Syracuse All-Century Football Team and went on to play professional football for 13 years. He was named the Baltimore Colts “Man of the Year” and was the NFL’s first Ed Block Courage Award winner. Parade Magazine featured him on its cover, naming him “The Most Important Coach in America” because of his work to transform the culture of sports. In addition, he was selected as one of the “Most Influential Sport Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport and was awarded the Frederick Douglas National Man of the Year for empowering youth to prevent rape and other forms of male violence.

We are delighted to have Joe speaking on two occasions. Join us for both!
  • Friday, March 18 @ 7:00 pm in the Alumni Room, Myers Convocation Center [This event is free and open to the public.]
  • Saturday, March 19, Keynote address for the Sports and Violence Conference [This event is for conference attendees. Click here to register for the conference.]

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Identities: I Am.

By Emily Wirtz

One of the final projects Traci discussed focuses on diversity in identity. “Our Lives Matter,” a play on the Black Lives Matter campaign withheld the same values, but broadened to encompass an entire student body—not just the black students. “Headshots” were black and white portrait paintings with punches of color—showing the obscured identities of students in the Bronx, while also representing emotions. A collaboration series she is currently working on is entitled “I Am, I Will, I’m Afraid.” This is a collaboration she brought with her.

Ashland University is a predominantly female campus. This was apparent in our first meeting with Molloy. She allowed AU students the opportunity to collaborate with her in a project of our own. The morning before her presentation, we gathered in a CFA art room, filling it with female students. Dr. Cynthia Petry introduced her, and she then introduced her collaboration. Each “I Am” piece preceding had encompassed some trait of the students within it. Portraits were taken and overlapped, creating a single image of multiple people. Quotes beginning with “I am…” “I will…” or “I’m afraid…” were also taken and layered into the portrait, looking something like this (her piece from Wellsville, NY). This then became our “assignment.”

Deciding on our own identities was not a long process. We were all women, many of us in our late adolescent years, and there was one issue that seemed to stick with all of us: gender-based violence. We talked about ourselves and other women we knew who had been through abusive relationships—whether verbal or physical—sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, cat-calling, slut-shaming, and the list goes on. The shocking thing? There wasn’t a single person in the room who didn’t raise her hand when the question “Do you know someone who’s been sexually assaulted?” was asked. That’s a problem, and for whatever reason, as women, that has become our identity. We are targets and victims because we are women. This project became our own personal solution. We are queens of our own lives and our photographs were to look as such. We chose to represent the strength and power that we have as women, even though we are not perceived this way. An image of feminine power? Katy Perry. Granted we didn’t have a crown or scepter, we had the attitude and the pose.

As we await the results of the final project, I think it’s important for us women to live through this strength. We should not have to carry mace or fake a phone call in order to feel safe walking down the side walk. Even Traci expressed her sincere concern for us as young women: “We need to pay attention to violence on women. We need to take back the night…and become inspired to do something more. This piece when it’s finished will have a life. I hope it has power.”

Every one of us has an identity. Every one of us also has an ethnicity, a race, a gender, a class, and a past. How we choose to identify ourselves may or may not be one of those categories. Unfortunately, all too often a stereotype arises from something that makes us who we are. Our race becomes our label, or our gender, sexuality, class, etc. and those labels become how we are identified—not how we identify ourselves. All too often a black man is perceived to have a gun in his pocket instead of a checkbook. A woman dressed in old sweats is perceived to have a food stamps card instead of a teaching license. A man on the streets is seen as a lazy addict instead of a man with a Ph.D. and a family to feed.

Emily Wirtz is an intern and Peace Scholar with the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.

Monday, January 25, 2016

When Did I Become A Latina Caricature?

By MarĂ­a Cardona

I have always been very proud to be Latina. To be Puerto Rican has always seemed liked the highest honor for me. However, I’d never truly been aware of my race, that is, until I came to the states. Between jokes about how I probably live and participate in a drug cartel to people questioning my lack of an accent I suddenly found myself aware of my race and becoming a caricature of what it means to be Hispanic in the eyes of some Americans.

It seems as if everyone wants me to speak with an accent or imitate an American trying to speak Spanish. People clamor for me to say “something in Spanish,” they wonder if I like spicy foods, if I dance. If I’m a little too loud or sassy “It must be that Puerto Rican blood.” Every time the topic of drugs comes up it seems as if all eyes are on me, because as the Hispanic I must know all about it. They seem to think my country is filled with famine, poverty and sickness. It’s a shock to some that we are, indeed, part of the 21st Century.