Transgender Scholar-Activist, Visiting Professor, Duke Divinity School & named Faith Leader to Watch by the Center for American Progress
Roberto Che Espinoza, PhD is a non-binary trans guy. You may see him referenced by his old name on the internet or on podcasts and books. Please use his current name Roberto Che Espinoza moving forward, thank you! Dr. Roberto is passionate about the politics of radical difference and the ways that our collective differences might shed light on how we become a better body together. Read More >
Our current educational system relies on passive learning that often results in data dumping. This kind of pedagogical practice centralizes one expert and accelerates dangerous hierarchies within teaching and learning. When we re-imagine the classroom as a space and place to decolonize our pedagogies, we also participate in the transformation of teaching. This results in accelerating the ongoing building an expanded capacity for those who make up our classroom spaces. Teaching is more than a data dump; it is a process of tending to all the threads of instructional design and when we leave room for embodied awareness and expanding our capacity through a somatic lens, we not only connect the dots and deepen our shared, collective analysis, but we also become aware of our embodied capacity. When we intentionally bring these two together, we effectively participate in decolonizing practices that helps us all make a hard pivot out of hierarchies that accelerate harm and diminish transformative learning.
While Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are all important, we must also recognize that DEI work is not enough. The work of composting supremacy culture is a marathon and necessitates Networks of Trust, but these networks have rapidly declined due to the machinations of supremacy culture. We must work to build Networks of Trust within our institutions and systems, so that we can implement DEI into our communities, and so that we can see the material consequence of our DEI efforts. When we rehabilitate Networks of Trust, we are better able to live into an ethos that can expand to include DEI efforts. Without Networks of Trust, we run the risk of tokenizing our diversity hires and subjecting BIPOC folks to a system where they are unable to flourish.
This topic addresses the overwhelming logic of whiteness in our LGBTQ movements and helps us imagine a way to do queer justice work that amplifies those at the margins of the margins & displaces the logic of dominance.
This can be a 101, 201, 301 or more advanced workshop that helps folks begin talking about whiteness and the need to displace whiteness to helping faith communities and organizations to imagine restructuring their organizational frames by using anti-oppression methodologies and power analysis.
Important to gender justice is the need to examine the ways our religious discourse (theologies and ethics) stabilize gender into an antiquated gender binary. I help communities rethink our gender justice through storytelling and helping folks use their imagination to connect our stories of gender and our expressions to a larger human rights framework.
How do make sense with difference in today’s world? How do we bridge with the radical differences that we encounter in our communities, schools, or churches? How do we explore our call to serve our communities when the world around us discourages us from bridging with the radical differences that we encounter on a daily basis? By coming to a better understanding of the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, citizenship, and other differences that we encounter, we can better be equipped to imagine a call to serve our communities from the place of bridging with radical difference. This workshop uses theories and methods of the philosophy of difference to rethink intersectionality.
Using storytelling, how can we learn to bridge with the center of our own difference in an effort to build bridging with difference around us? How can bridging with difference be a catalyst for us to be unified in our deepest differences?
"Dr. Roberto’s deeply contextual, embodied work as an activist theologian brought necessary depth to our conference. As a panelist for 'Bridging Communities: Faith-Based Leadership,' Dr. Roberto’s engaging humor and rigorous imagination expanded the conversation, calling the audience to 'hold curiosity for borderlands as places to sit rather than bridges to be crossed.' Dr. Roberto’s attention to intersectional liberation and thoughtful engagement across faith traditions was instrumental, and the panel was consistently ranked a conference highlight in our post-conference survey."
"Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza brings insight, compassion, and a remarkable ability to connect with students. Dr. Espinoza engages the audience with keen intelligence and a candid, compassionate dialogue that challenges concepts of social justice and human rights work."
“Roberto brings dynamic, prophetic possibilities to life, whether in an academic lecture, a blog post, or from a protest megaphone. They bring a unique blend: grounded, activist-informed, and community-engaged human, who is deeply philosophical and theological. They weave humor, story-telling, passion, and personal vulnerabilities with analytical critique and lived practice to imagine new ways of being and becoming in the world that dismantle white supremacy and liberate those most oppressed.”
“As this year's Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium unfolded the emerging meaning of 'Trans,' we enjoyed as featured guest Roberto Che Espinoza. Their contribution of opening keynote address one day, and public interview the next was a dazzling gift of intellectual depth and imaginative creativity, and generous conversational engagement. Dr. Roberto left us not just aglow with edgy insight but provoked to fresh action.”
“As a scholar, writer, and speaker, Roberto is laying the foundation for an Activist Theology that must accompany today’s movements for justice, if we’re to sustain ourselves and each other long enough to realize a world in which individual and collective liberation are possible. With wit and charm and a laser-like capacity to name bullshit, Roberto rejects the simple narratives that would have us turn “community” into a mere buzzword and spiritual practice into another consumerist fad. They possess that rare capacity to name complexity without being paralyzed by it, attacking white supremacy and its effects with a ferocious intelligence while continuing to expand who’s at the table and to work across difference, and rejecting bad theology while lifting up the radical principles that underpin history’s most powerful wisdom teachings and religious texts. For anyone interested in liberation theology and deep community building, their teachings are mandatory listening.”
"The work of Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza is important not just to theologians or clergy, but to anyone who desires to understand the overlapping strands between theology, activism, and intersectional liberation. In a moment when Americans urgently need to consider not just what we believe, but what belief looks like when it’s out on the streets and in our communities, Dr. Roberto is a prophetic voice."
Wow, Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza's presentations deeply expanded my thinking, theological vocabulary, and understanding of theory-practice connections, and energized my spirit in ways I could not have imagined would be possible at an academic conference. In question and answer sessions, Dr. Roberto brought a model combination of candor, graciousness, attentiveness, and an invitation to think and dialogue with them in politicized, honest, theoretically generative exchanges."
“Weeks later, students at Hollins are still talking about Dr. Roberto’s lecture, describing it as: 'balm for our weary souls.' Seamlessly weaving personal story together with theory and theology, Dr. Roberto spoke about strategies for surviving and resisting supremacist ideologies and institutions. They suggested we start by answering two basic questions: 'Who am I?' and 'Who are my people?' I have rarely witnessed such an elegant blending of theory, practice, and personal narrative. Dr. Roberto’s lecture was so much more than an academic presentation; it was a gift of spiritual activism at work.”
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