joy or moralism

[So far this term I’ve slipped from the discipline of sharing passages here. Perhaps now I’ll make up for the lack of words with a longer excerpt from Geez magazine. Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett team up to bring joy and relationship to the task of anti-racism.]:

The two of us have kicked off countless anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings by asserting, not half in jest, that “diversity trainings ruin well-meaning white people.”

It’s the whole moralistic ethos that focuses on getting everything right and avoiding what is wrong: Never use this word. Always use that word…

For this we blame personal piety and the distorted moralistic theology it rode in on. This theology is endemic to the North American colonial project and inseparable from white supremacy and racial capitalism…. The goal, always, is to be one of the good ones, which means avoiding everything bad, such as failure, mistakes, body, sweat, sex, the earth, illness, pain, depression, movement, darkness, dance, grief, rhythm, cathartic joy – in other words, “the funk”….

Joy finds no place in moralistic religion. Joy is messy, unpredictable, kinesthetic, embodied, and erotic. It blurs boundaries wherever moralism attempts to draw them. Joy is inextricably interwoven within a relational universe, and it insists that right action be worked out, not on the sterile surgical table of moralism, but in the steaming cauldron of relationship….

This joy is not measured, careful, pre-planned; it has nothing to do with trying to be good. Joy is not synonymous with a stable position or sense of certainty; it meets us in the unstable and literally “unsettling” journey of decolonization.

  • Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett in “We Need the Funk” in Geez magazine.

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