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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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Preface to the Second Edition


In the winter of 2013 I met up with Chris Myers, managing director of Peter Lang (USA), at one of the national education conferences. At this time he encouraged me to consider a second edition of America’s Atonement. I was especially enthusiastic about the invitation because I was just about to visit the University of Virginia to speak with students who were studying the book. Later, Chris further enhanced my growing enthusiasm with an observation: “The world is such that your argument about the state of things is well supported by reality.” I agreed with him. But what of it? What might be said that has not; and to whom might it be directed? These two questions have figured greatly in the revisions and expansions made to this second edition.

In the first edition of America’s Atonement, I focused on racial pain, its rhetorical expressions, and some of the opportunities they provided for racial healing. I paid particular attention to white racial pain both because of its under-examination and centrality to any comprehensive and meaningful movement toward greater social justice. I therefore looked at the objective and subjective character of white racial pain across several settings, notably academia and the multicultural classroom. I further examined popular cultural expressions of efforts to recover from this massively felt psychomoral pain through the cinema and cultural movements. By turning a critical lens on these phenomena, I hoped to further what I termed a “pedagogy of healing,” ← xvii | xviii → a...

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