Love can change the world

February 15, 2019

Bettina Love hugs a woman as a crowd of people stand and clap.

Bettina Love spoke to the Quinnipiac community about changing the world though education and social justice by placing the most vulnerable among us at the center of our actions.

Bettina Love uses words like smelling salts.

She waves them all across America to open eyes, hearts and minds about how urban youth can use hip hop music and culture to form social, cultural and political identities to create new ways of thinking about education and social justice.

On Wednesday night, Love brought her urgent, high-energy message to Quinnipiac for a lecture titled, “We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching.” Her message, a co-keynote address for Black History Month, is also the title of her latest book.

Richard Edmond-Vargas, co-founder of Initiate Justice, a prison reform group, delivered his keynote address earlier this month. His lecture was titled, “Cops, Gangstas, D.A.s and Thugs Share a Common Ancestor — Patriarchy.”

For Love, the threads are not so different.

“My ancestors found joy in some of the most hideous conditions. I know that we can find joy. I know that we can dream together,” said Love, an award-winning author and associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia.

Love is an unfiltered and unabashed speaker. Her remarks come from “400 years of receipts,” a raw acknowledgement of 400 years of slavery in America that began in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619.

“How can we build a new world if we can’t critique this one?” Love asked, a Black Lives Matter sticker affixed to her laptop. “We’ve got to think about a world that centers around the most vulnerable — and then put them in the center.”

After her lecture, Love took questions from the audience.

Aaron Robinson ’19, a broadcast journalism major who plays on the men’s basketball team, asked about role models of color beyond rappers and athletes.

“If I’m a young black kid from the hood — and I want to be a doctor or a lawyer — there’s no one to teach me how to do that,” Robinson said.

Love said the key is to reimagine role models.

“You may not know a doctor or lawyer, but do you know folks who want to help you?” she said.  “We have to protect all children’s potential. Every child has some gift. We have to find that gift and protect it.”

The late Kevin Basmadjian, who served as dean of the School of Education from 2014-16, was a guardian of such gifts.

Basmadjian was remembered before Love’s lecture by Mark Thompson, executive vice president and provost; Don C. Sawyer III, associate vice president for academic affairs and chief diversity officer; and Anne Dichele, current dean of the School of Education.

“Kevin was unwavering in his desire to promote a School of Education that stood for social justice and equity,” Dichele said of Basmadjian, who taught at Quinnipiac for years before being named dean. “Kevin would’ve been so supportive of how Dr. Love’s work promotes classrooms that become the very places that Kevin always wanted everywhere to be —places of equity, challenge, support, and most importantly, joy.”

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