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America's Atonement

Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing -- 2nd Edition


Aaron David Gresson III

The second edition of America’s Atonement: Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing argues that racial pain is a driving force in contemporary race relations and is especially prevalent in social discourses on identity, fairness, and social justice. Despite its importance, racial pain is too often glossed over as mundane or disingenuous. For this reason, social justice activism and education are in danger of undermining the needs and opportunities to more effectively convey what has been called «difficult knowledge». This book highlights emergent examples of psychic and relational healing.
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A Personal Preface: The Dance of Agency in the 21st Century



The Dance of Agency in the 21st Century

USA—God Bless Her… We’ll Defend Her.

Anonymous 9/11 slogan

What does agency mean? What is its relevance for the new century in American society? These questions are at the core of this book. But because the subject matter—race, identity, power, and healing—is not immediately understood in terms of agency, I want to use this preface to introduce both the subject matter and the intention of America’s Atonement.

Simply put, agency is the primal cry I am somebody! Look up the term in, say, Webster’s II New World College Dictionary, and you will see that the word comes from the Latin, agens, and means “effective,” “action,” “power.” The difference between my simple definition and the more official idea is important: my own, which hints at Jesse Jackson’s mantra for black Americans of another generation, represents a recent effort by some in American society to insist that the average person, Everyman, has a voice and a personal motive and agenda. The dictionary term harks back to when one acted on behalf of another in whom power and authority resided.

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