Ben taught middle and high school for three years in Dallas, Texas before returning to graduate school to receive his Master’s in Theological Studies. His writing focuses on hip hop and popular culture, religion, and race/ethnicity. For years he performed rap as Holy Smokes, using this role to promote literacy about mental health among youth (on occasion he still does). Ben’s commitments as an educator have led him to teach, tutor at the college level, work with an anti-racist training program for teachers and other school leaders, and speak in various school programs. He contributes to DJBooth, a website dedicated to hip hop, and his other writings can be found in the Publications section.
Although this blog has taken on several forms, Ben now dedicates it to the books he is reading (and sometimes the music he is listening to). His personal activism leads him to conversing about what he’s learned with others, and as a voracious reader, he has found that talking about books is often an accessible way to begin a conversation and encourage people to learn more about issues that concern them.
A note about the blog’s origins and ethos:
I started this blog as a way to reflect upon my teaching experience. Since then, I have left the classroom (for now) to pursue a graduate degree in theological studies. Although I plan to be an educator for a lifetime in some form or another, I felt there was more for me to learn to be able to teach students while influencing adults to care more about the messages we give to the youth and to each other. There are parts of me that feel incongruent now that I am a student and not a teacher, but I think about what my students taught me and wonder if we should blur the lines between teaching and learning a bit more.
Indeed, much of what I have learned in my adult years has been a process of unlearning what the world has taught me in order to know better. This blog is dedicated to the process of re-education in pursuit of complex questions in a world that values simple solutions.
Here’s to the perpetual cycle of learning and unlearning that each of us must do.