Griffin Snyder 9/2 Medium Post
My Name is Griffin Snyder, I am a Freshman who will graduate in 2024, and I want to major in History or Political science. I know that a history degree likely won’t be much help in the current job market, but one could make that argument for any degree nowadays. I’m not as big a fan of Political Science, but I’m also considering that for a major or minor, just as a safer choice. A key part of my background that I would like to illuminate is my schooling before I came to Colgate. I grew up in Rye, New York (a suburb of New York City) and my upbringing and life in Rye was fairly basic and homogeneous, but it warrants discussion that I grew up in an upper class and mostly white community that often skewed conservative. This led to me not getting very clear idea of what America is like, which I hope to remedy through my time at Colgate. That isn’t to say that I did not grow beyond the bubble of the white suburban life, as the Rye school system was very effective in challenging my biases and allowing me to look at things from other perspectives. I am taking this course because I have always been very interested in how religion affects politics and history as well as the day to day lives of all people, regardless of religious affiliation. Although I did not grow up religious, I still respect the influence of religion on the world (while still clearly seeing the terrible things that it has caused) and want to learn more about the interactions that shape our world, secular or not. Although I did not expect to be studying Black Lives Matter in relation to religion, I am glad that we are, as I hadn’t really considered how much religion plays into modern civil rights movements like BLM. For me, an ideal online learning environment would be one where everyone is actively engaged and focused on doing group activities and lectures based around critically breaking down and synthesizing information, rather than simply regurgitating terms. I think this can be achieved decently through the use of breakout rooms and in depth analysis of terms beyond the base level, as well as connections and examples to our life.
As I listened to the podcasts, I found myself thinking a lot about the role of the Black church in the lives and struggles of the two distinct civil rights generations represented. For the older generation of civil rights activists active during the 50’s and 60’s the black churches that dotted the nation (and especially the South) provided a base of power so to speak, as the church allowed leaders of the movement to connect to black Americans through a shared belief in the teachings of those black churches that played significant roles in the lives of many black Americans at the time. The leaders of the civil rights movement were made up in large part by the black clergy, who used their already considerable influence to bring people to their cause. The church also provided a moral baseline for much of the movement, allowing people to prove to themselves and other that what they were doing was right because it lined up with their teachings of Christianity. For the latest generation of civil rights activists however, the church has not been a base of power for the Black Lives Matter movement, and has instead been another source of oppression for much of the movement. Because BLM is filled with women and LGBTQ+ people, the movement has distanced itself from the more conservative social policies often associated with the black church.
The 4 assignments given this week all have intrinsic connections that help develop the greater themes of how religion affects society. Between the two podcasts, there is a lot of discussion of how people should go about enacting change on a massive scale like BLM aims to do. They both make clear the great anger that the black community has about police brutality and systemic racism, but they also discuss how people have and should respond in a way that will enact change. The authors of both readings discuss the growing skepticism of religion and how it is often no longer key to Contemporary life in the West as compared to popular culture. It also discusses various ways to define Religion based on how it is experienced. This is relevant to the Podcasts as it reflects the generational shift and greater diversity of Black Lives Matter as compared to the patriarchal and Christianity-centered ideals of the civil rights generation. Like in much of modern American society, civil rights movements have shifted from a greater focus on and basis in religion to mainly secular yet multi-religious. There are some key differences between the readings and podcasts, as the readings focus more on the value of and changes to religion in society and an academic look at the nature and history of religion. The podcasts are more focused on the loss of spirituality for many young African-Americans and how that informs the Black Lives Matter movement.