Larycia Hawkins on Stepping Out onto the Bridge of Solidarity.

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“What does it mean to be an embodied question mark wherever you are on your journey?” This was the question Dr. Larycia Hawkins presented to her students at Wheaton College. “Our bodies do work for us.”

As a professor of political science, Dr. Hawkins wanted to teach her students that it’s not enough to empathize with the hurting. True solidarity requires the use of our bodies to walk with those who are suffering. “Where Jesus went, societies and politics were changed–they were at least upset because his body was doing this incredible work of daring to see people in their misery.”

“Yeah, we’re political animals but our bodies are sites of political contestation. It’s not just a black woman’s body does work for her, all of our bodies do this kind of speaking on our behalf.”

An embodied question mark is “always speaking the truth to power, always calling to task the powers that be in order to amplify–not speak for the voices of the most vulnerable and the oppressed–and to walk with them.” Solidarity is like a bridge. It holds incredible tension yet it brings together what is and what ought to be.

In this episode, Dr. Hawkins shares her story of liminality as she stepped out onto the bridge of solidarity in the midst of a theo-political storm.

Dr. Larycia Hawkins is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. She was previously the founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies program and tenured professor at Wheaton College. Her work engages the intersections of race/ethnicity, religion, and politics. Dr. Hawkins’s research explores what it means to transcend theoretical solidarity with the oppressed and move to actual, embodied solidarity with the oppressed.

Dr. Hawkins kicked up a storm of controversy when she wore a hijab in order to highlight the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women. This act of embodied solidarity fueled the increasing theo-political debates within American evangelicalism and resulted in the loss of her tenured position at Wheaton. Her unique knowledge and experience have made her a sought after speaker and leader of interfaith dialogue.

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If you enjoyed this episode, you might like:

Episode 3: Failed White Domination with Walter Brueggemann

Episode 5: Passage to Manhood with Craig Glass

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