Ha! Fooled ya! Yes, Marc Anthony did indeed file for divorce from Jennifer Lopez last week...but not here. (And we kinda wish we didn’t know that.)
And yes, a weepy Sherri Shepherd was the low scorer on “Dancing with the Stars” and was consequently ejected from the dance floor.
But that’s not actually what this story is about. Sorry.
This story is actually about how communities like Jersey City go about the hard and decidedly unglamorous work of meeting the needs of its residents while giving equal weight to all constituent groups, what St. Peter’s College Associate Professor Anna Brown might call “social justice.”
Chairperson of the St. Peter’s Social Justice Program, Brown offers commentary in the recently released documentary “An Encounter with Simone Weil,” directed by Julia Haslett, but she is no stranger to bridging the many gaps between the Ivory Tower, the community, and the Facebook generation. Brown recently discussed how communities can begin to care more about, say, Board of Education elections and less about Kim Kardashian’s (possible) relationship with Kanye West.
The more brain space we spend on Snooki, the less we have to devote to health care, jobs, the economy.
She gave the example of the Michael Moore film, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” In the documentary Moore asked several scholars, businesspeople, and Wall Street executives to explain derivatives to him. “No one was able to do it in plain English,” said Brown. “Very few people understand how Wall Street operates, and yet what goes on there has profound impact on our lives. So it becomes easier to care about the latest reality TV show than what’s going on in Washington or City Hall.”
In other words, balancing the city municipal budget? Hard. The reasons why Bobby Petrino is unemployed? Easy.
Too poor to pay attention
“People are also just busy trying to survive. It’s hard to provide for a family. It’s hard to go to work then be engaged in all the things going on in our communities,” Brown conceded.
But she believes we are living through a sort of calm before the storm. She recalled that historian Howard Zinn often discussed his teaching days at the Atlanta-based Spellman College in the 1950s and noting how quiet everything was.
“And then, in the 1960s, there was all this political activism taking place and people rallied around all these issues they hadn’t been engaged in previously. Nobody knew the Berlin wall was going to fall. All around us there are examples of people paying attention to issues of social justice in the community. Sometimes, these examples are small. But they’re out there. I believe these examples will spark a dialogue in the society about how we will address inequality in our community.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.