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Por Cora Antonio
Jun 24th, 2019

To be drugged by the comforts of privilege is to become contributors to injustice as silent beneficiaries of the fruits of injustice.” Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Teaching at Jesuit schools is a privilege that we have as educators that we must use to help our students understand that a single, dominant story does not tell the whole story. To do that, I have developed a course that will help students examine positions of power derived from privilege in order to understand that passivity & complacency are equivalent to active oppression.

The course was developed around Counterstory methodology. Counterstory is the narration of experiences of people and communities that are often hidden, suppressed, or re-interpreted by a culturally dominant group. Dominant narratives have become so pervasive that they are steeped deep into every facet of American life, socioeconomically, politically, and culturally. As a result, we have become contributors to perpetuating these narratives. Counterstory methodology allows us to highlight voices that have been traditionally silenced through the power of story.

My passion for developing a course like this has been driven by the convergence of my undergraduate degree in Ethnic Studies and my graduate degree in Systematic Theology. The result is the culmination of my two passions, seeking justice for people of color in light of the Kingdom of God. A verse that continues to echo in my mind is, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” This course is grounded in this purpose.

To develop this course, I did in-depth research through three primary sources: the abundance of books I have read throughout my education, Jesuit historical documents, and my brother who is a professor at Stanford and an expert in Counterstory education. Through my undergraduate and post-graduate education, I have collected and read many books about the historical and spiritual experiences of various ethnic minorities in America. From them, I have learned that there is a vast array of stories and narratives that cannot be combined into a single, dominant narrative. In addition, I have relied heavily on the documents written by Pedro Arrupe, SJ who has done much work around the issue of power, privilege, and personal responsibility. Along with his work, I sourced recent documents by General Sosa and Pope Francis as well. Finally, I am thankful for the continued guidance from my brother, Professor Anthony Antonio at Stanford University who teaches in the School for Higher Education. He has done extensive work around Counterstory methodology and has helped me with my own research and references. The result is this new course which I have been able to teach this past Spring 2019 which was well-received by the seniors I taught who wrote beautiful Counterstories of their own.

It is my hope that by sharing the work I have done that educators at other schools around the world have another resource and option in terms of helping our students understand what it means to be a “man and woman for and with others.” I hope that through the power of story, students are moved with compassion to use their God-given gifts to uphold the dignity of every human being, “to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

If you would like to use Conterstories as Lesson Materials in your classroom please follow this link. These lesson materials will help students examine positions of power derived from privilege in order to understand that passivity & complacency are equivalent to active oppression. https://www.educatemagis.org/lesson-plans/whats-your-story/

Here I would like to share two students’ counterstories created after learning about it in class. If you have any questions or comments please share them in the comment box bellow.

“Dominant Narratives Oppress the Oppressors”

“My Experience with Racism”