Joe Flynn

Perspective: When Presidents Show Their Backsides

Jul 22, 2019

One of my favorite expressions is, “When someone shows you their backside, then you always know what it looks like.” The nation has spent a week debating whether or not Tweets that challenged four U.S. Representatives of color to go back to where they came from if they didn’t like the country were racist. The reactions spanned the gamut, from incensed to dismissive.  


Perspective: Education And Snowflakes

Jun 19, 2019

Did you know animals and fantasy creature are featured more in children’s literature than non-white humans, combined? So, how does that fact affect all children? Last week, the third Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators ran at Northern Illinois University.

K-12 educators came to NIU campus for four days and three nights to explore social justice issues in education. Since its first year, the size of the camp has doubled from just under 60 campers to approximately 110 with demand for a fourth camp next year.

Perspective: More Perfect?

May 15, 2019
Public Domain

Recently I subscribed to the More Perfect podcast. Across its three seasons, the podcast takes a deep dive into the Supreme Court and the Constitution. When was the last time you read the Constitution? In all its flaws, like the 3/5 Compromise, it is nonetheless a brilliant document. 


Perspective: When The Message Transcends The Gore

Apr 10, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ



Hitchcock. Romero. Carpenter. Craven. Del Torro. And now, Peele.  

Perspective: Second Acts

Mar 6, 2019

In his 1932 essay, “My Lost City,” F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced his classic quote, “There are no second acts in America.” That is pretty stark and hopeless. Fortunately, the line is taken out of context.

Fitzgerald actually wrote, “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.” Written only a few short years after the beginning of the Great Depression, Fitzgerald’s iconic and prescient words uncover American optimism and encourage hope, recovery, hard work, and growth.

Perspective: Holding America Hostage

Jan 23, 2019

This week, 800,000 federal workers will miss a second paycheck due to the shutdown of the federal government. On December 11, Mr. Trump declared that he would own the shutdown of the government if Congress did not approve over five billion dollars to fund the construction of a border wall.

Perspective: But Is It Best For Kids?

Dec 17, 2018

One of the most challenging problems facing Illinois education is the teacher shortage affecting bilingual educators. Although a statewide issue, most students affected are concentrated in underfunded low income districts attended by large numbers of children of color, many who come from non-English speaking backgrounds. And this is not an issue for Spanish speakers but over 140 other languages as well.

Accusations That Really Destroyed Lives

Oct 10, 2018

Several times during Bret Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court, President Trump, Judge Kavanaugh, and others lamented how expressing allegations of sexual misconduct was “tearing down a good man,” a “hit job.” Mr. Trump declared “a man’s life is in tatters,” even though Kavanaugh’s approval was all but sealed.

A Curious Encounter -- Part 2

Sep 5, 2018



A Curious Encounter -- Part 1

Sep 4, 2018

Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them. 

Lessons From Little League

Jul 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ


His Dream Is Still Deferred

Apr 9, 2018

Last Wednesday was April 4, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King, without doubt, one of our most beloved and respected historical figures. However, there’s much about his ideas, message, and activities that has been edited from our collective memory.

Two Dates That Echo With Horror

Jan 29, 2018

The morning of January 23 brought the ugliest and saddest of news. A 15-year-old boy walked into the commons area of his school and opened fire, ultimately slaying two and wounding 18 others, casting a scar that will be long visible.

Since the case has been assigned to juvenile court, the shooter’s identity and other details are kept in the confines of the court room; but investigators are desperately trying to find the roots of the shooter’s motives and his capacity to appreciate the gravity of his crimes.

High Court Deserves Reverence

Sep 12, 2016

A visit to the United States Supreme Court -- the marbled home of the judicial branch of our government in Washington, D.C. -- begs reverence.

The Court’s current home did not open until 1935. Before, they convened in a cramped, damp basement room of Congress. Sitting in the actual courtroom, it was insuperable to ponder the important decisions made there -- good and bad -- that affect each of us: the Korematsu decision, the Brown decision, Miranda, Bakke, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, the Obergefell decision, and more.

Exposing Skeletons In America's Closet

Aug 2, 2016

Our nation is a family, inextricably linked by the DNA of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this great nation. Like all families we have our triumphs and joys, our arguments and dissents.

And, like all families, we have our secrets -- those skeletons that lurk just behind a slightly ajar closet door. Skeletons that fracture.

Another Example Of Mindless Attack

May 9, 2016

"Another academically challenged affirmative action parasite steals a place from a qualified White or Asian student."

"Hopefully she gets cancer or AIDS or one of those colored diseases."

"I wonder if she applied as a mudslime or  a foreign student or just a n****r."

These racially charged aspersions are not from a bygone era. Last week, they were posted to a cable news network’s comments section when they reported Malia Obama’s acceptance to Harvard, her father’s alma mater. To their credit, they shut down the comments section.

Budget Inaction Needs Action

Apr 18, 2016

Illinois is in the depths of an historic budget impasse. The democratic-controlled legislature is pushing for tax increases while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner opposes any taxes. Unfortunately, their inability to find any compromise will affect all Illinoisans, particularly the poor and working class.

Many services have been impacted, including child welfare, Meals-on-Wheels, epilepsy treatments, sexual assault and rape crisis centers, drug treatment programs, juvenile justice programs, and many others.

Express Ideas With Respect

Mar 28, 2016

Free speech is fundamental to democracy and education. It protects us from the suppression of ideas and dissent.

College campuses are among the last bastions of democracy -- spaces where individuals representing a wide spectrum of humanity can congregate to share, challenge, refute, and embrace ideas. But can one really say whatever one feels, inside or outside classrooms?

Joseph Flynn

Jul 31, 2015
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Joseph Flynn is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction and Associate Director for Academic Affairs for the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University.

He teaches courses related to social justice, multicultural education and curriculum studies. His scholarship offers critical examinations of race, media and popular culture, and curriculum. Currently he is author of White Fatigue: Rethinking Resistance for Social Justice and a co-host for the podcast Mental Illness in Pop Culture.