Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Black Lives Matter (page 1 / 1)

Reacting to the Daily Lectionary

Today's readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Semi-continuous: Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23; Isaiah 9:18-10:4; Acts 7:1-8
Complementary: Psalm 33:12-22; Ecclesiastes 6:1-6; Acts 7:1-8

Part One

A common argument in favor of abortion is that many children would otherwise be born into poverty; to mothers who can’t afford the children that they already have; to teen girls who will be forced to drop out of school and fall into poverty, to mothers who will be forced to give up the careers or the lifestyle that they might otherwise have enjoyed.

Pro-lifers respond that every life is valuable, that someone’s hopes and dreams shouldn’t doom an innocent child to death, and that anyway being born into poverty is better than dying or never living.

Interestingly, the Preacher didn’t agree.

A man may father a hundred children and live many years, but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he.

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

The Preacher argues that life isn’t worth living if you can’t enjoy the good things of life. The Preacher argues that it’s better to be born dead than to go through life in misery and deprivation. The still born child has more rest than the man without good things. And we know that this is true: poverty brings with it fear and stress. And stress alone can cause a host of health problems. A life in poverty can be a miserable life.

Does this mean that the Preacher would have been in favor of abortions, for children likely to be born into poverty? I don’t know. Where is the dividing line between “enjoying life’s good things” and not? Which good things? How much enjoyment? Are we talking being born into crushing poverty in a third-world country? Are we talking about being poor in America? What about being born into a war zone or during an ethnic cleansing?

The Preacher doesn’t answer these questions or provide a detailed set of criteria and guidelines. He’s not interested in telling us what to do; he wants to make us think. This passage makes me pause and consider whether the circumstances matter more than I used to think. And it makes me less certain about my own beliefs and slower to condemn others for their choices.

Part Two

It’s trendy in conservative Christian circles to slam “wokeness” and to declare that it has nothing to do with God, the Gospel, or Christianity. But “wokeness” is just being awake to the injustices of the world. And, say the prophets, you very definitely want to be awake to injustice. Tolerating injustice is bad. Very bad. God doesn’t like it when you tolerate injustice and he tends to react … poorly.

For wickedness burned like a fire,
    consuming briers and thorns;
it kindled the thickets of the forest,
    and they swirled upward in a column of smoke.
Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts
    the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire;
    no one spared another.
They gorged on the right but still were hungry,
    and they devoured on the left but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred;
Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
    and together they were against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
    his hand is stretched out still.

Time out! That’s all very bad. What wickedness prompted God to become this angry?

Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees,
    who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
    and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
to make widows their spoil
    and to plunder orphans!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
    in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
    and where will you leave your wealth,
so as not to crouch among the prisoners
    or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;
    his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 9:18-10:4

This was prompted by God’s people being asleep to injustice against the poor, the needy, and orphans. Are you sure—absolutely sure—that you want to crusade against “wokeness”?

Love Thy American Neighbor

A congregation of White men and women worships at First Baptist Church in the town of Luverne, Alabama.

This article—and this passage—has lived in my head, since I first read it, nearly 4 years ago. If you’ve talked politics with me, I’ve likely mentioned it at least once.

A Jewish theologian once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus responded by giving his own twist on the Shema.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

How do American Christians hear, understand, and follow Jesus’s words? Let’s check in with some good, Christian, God-fearing folks from rural Alabama.

God, Trump and the meaning of morality — The Washington Post

Linda nodded. It wasn’t just Muslims that posed a threat, she said, but all kinds of immigrants coming into the country.

“Unpapered people,” Sheila said, adding that she had seen them in the county emergency room and they got treated before her. “And then the Americans are not served.”

Love thy neighbor, she said, meant “love thy American neighbor.”

Welcome the stranger, she said, meant the “legal immigrant stranger.”

“The Bible says, ‘If you do this to the least of these, you do it to me,’ ” Sheila said, quoting Jesus. “But the least of these are Americans, not the ones crossing the border.”

To her, this was a moral threat far greater than any character flaw Trump might have, as was what she called “the racial divide,” which she believed was getting worse. The evidence was all the black people protesting about the police, and all the talk about the legacy of slavery, which Sheila never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”

Luke tells of a situation in which another theologian quoted the Shema to Jesus, as the qualification for gaining eternal life. Then he wanted Jesus to praise him for how well he was following this commandment and asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” That’s when Jesus busted out the story of the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan.

When Jesus finished telling the story, he asked a question of his own.

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

When it comes to being Jesus’s people, there is no distinction between neighbors and American neighbors. There is no distinction between strangers and “legal immigrant strangers.” These good, Christian, God-fearing folks from rural Alabama don’t know their Bible and don’t know the love that Jesus taught, lived, and died for.

If “they will know that we are Christians by our love”, what are we to make of this rural, Alabama church that only shows love to people like them, and that disdains and fears everyone else? What are we to make of the great mass of American evangelicals who live like them, love like them, worship like them, and believe like them?

Confessing My Racism: A Juneteenth Reflection

Juneteenth.

The new American holiday, a celebration of the date when slaves in Texas finally heard the news that they had been freed: June 19, 1865. A commemoration of the fact that it took 89 years from the time that Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal” until the time that some men stopped enslaving other men. A chance to reflect that it took another 100 years before all men could stay in the same hotels, eat at the same restaurants, attend the same schools, and vote in the same elections.

For me, it’s a chance to reflect on how the Founding Fathers patted themselves on the back for their love of freedom, even as they systematically took away the freedom of others. As I reflect on their hubris and self-congratulatory delusions, it’s a chance for me to ask if I need to confront any blind spots of my own.

Two years ago, I saw my own racism for the first time. I wrote this essay just three weeks after George Floyd was murdered. I’m publishing it now, to finally acknowledge my own sin and failures. Public confession is good for the soul. Maybe reading this will help you too.

I didn't think I was racist. I was wrong. I have racist ideas that I've learned from the culture around me, and I didn't even realize that I had learned them. This became clear to me, as I read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and The Myth of Equality by Ken Wytsma.

DiAngelo kicked things off.

Many of us have been taught to believe that there are distinct biological and genetic differences between races. This biology accounts for visual differences such as skin color, hair texture, and eye shape, and traits that we believe we see such as sexuality, athleticism, or mathematical ability. The idea of race as a biological construct makes it easy to believe that many of the divisions we see in society are natural. But race is socially constructed. The differences we see with our eyes—differences such as hair texture and eye color—are superficial and emerged as adaptations to geography. Under the skin, there is no true biological race. The external characteristics that we use to define race are unreliable indicators of genetic variation between any two people.

And then Ken Wytsma reinforced it.

…the concept of humanity’s being divisible into different races has no scientific validity.

…these features that so impress us when we look at one another are extremely superficial. Beneath the skin we are all basically the same—and this is especially true at the genetic level. Genetically speaking, I (with my rather unmixed Dutch heritage) am more similar to a male Maori than I am to any female, including my own mother and daughters. Whatever genetic differences the Maori man and I might have throughout the rest of our twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, they are fewer than the number of gene differences between men (with one X-and one Y-chromosome) and women (who have two X-chromosomes), even when a man and woman are closely related.

Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the genetics of humanity is how little diversity it contains in comparison to other populations of creatures, including other primates. The entire human population displays far less genetic diversity than that of chimpanzees, bonobos, or orangutans.

…the number of genetic differences among all Norwegians—or among all Nigerians—is greater than the number of genetic differences that could be used to distinguish between Norwegians and Nigerians. Externally, a Norwegian and a Nigerian look very different; but their respective genomes are quite similar, even within the genes that code for melanin and thereby determine skin color. Such genes differ only by a very few nucleotides, and the adaptive change that led to light skin occurred more than once as humans migrated to northerly latitudes.

Distinguishing among people groups on the basis of race is an artificial, superficial venture with no scientific credibility. Of course, this reality is less important than the perception. Even though race has no anthropological or genetic grounding, our modern world is preoccupied with identifying differences between people groups and basing our behaviors on those perceived differences.

These ideas—that there is no such thing as biological race; that genetic differences between people of the same nationality are greater than the differences that can be used to distinguish between nationalities—knocked me back on my heels. I've absorbed the racist idea that there are innate differences between Black people and White people.

I would have pointed to cultural differences and claimed that they were the result of innate differences. Such as: Black people are more athletically gifted and better at sports than White people are. That Black people are more prone to diseases like sickle cell anemia than White people are. That Black people are more exuberant than White people, more violent than White people, and dance better than White people, all because they are less inhibited than White people.

As soon as I read Robin DiAngelo's and Ken Wytsma's words, it was like a bomb went off in my brain. The differences really, truly, are only melanin deep. At the risk of trivializing identity, it's a mask, a costume, a covering that we are all born with. And we randomly get the lighter version or the darker version. But we are all exactly the same underneath. Exactly.

It's horrifying to realize that all of humanity is exactly the same underneath our skin. It’s horrifying to come to grips with the idea that we Americans have treated millions of people differently because of a highly visible, yet completely surface-level difference. People who are the same as me in every way that matters—all the same potential, abilities, and traits—being systematically enslaved, shut out, disenfranchised, beaten, murdered, slandered, feared, and imprisoned.

I haven’t enslaved, beaten, or murdered anyone because of their perceived race. But feared? Slandered? I have felt more unsafe walking through Black neighborhoods than White neighborhoods, even though I knew nothing about the neighborhood other than the skin differences that I could see.

After reading what DiAngelo and Wytsma wrote, I realized that I’ve been putting people into different buckets based on their “race”. I’ve had a mental category for “Black actors” separate from “actors”, “Black scientists” from “scientists”, “Black musicians” from “musicians”, and “Black writers” from “writers”. When I think about accomplishments, I think about them in terms of those categories. “Tom Cruise is a great actor and Denzel Washington is a great Black actor”, as though they weren’t both American men, of similar ages, doing the same job.

Denzel Washington is not a great Black actor. He’s a great actor. Ray Charles was not a great Black musician. He was a great musician. George Washington Carver was not a great Black scientist; he was a great scientist. Frederick Douglass was not a great Black orator; he was a great orator. If I want to truly give all people the same weight, I need to evaluate people as Americans, not African Americans or Chinese Americans or Indians.

This is my racism: I’ve bought into the lie that skin color indicates deeper genetic differences. And while I never would have admitted it, I separated humanity into “us” and “them” based on those perceived genetic differences. And that let me be less concerned about what happened to “them,” then I was about what happened to me and people like me.

I didn’t want to believe that Americans were treating some people better than others because of perceived race. Whenever I heard stories that seemingly showed racist outcomes, I explained it all away. Instead of believing whoever was writing or speaking, I decided that they must be wrong or mistaken or lying or misrepresenting the situation. I would bring my superior education and knowledge to explain what was really going on. I had an explanation for why everything that seemed racist, really wasn’t.

After George Floyd was murdered, I started listening and reading with an open mind. I realized that I have been wrong. That I was guilty of treating some people as lesser. And I made a commitment to start listening when people told me how racism was affecting their lives. Not listening to argue and deflect, but listening to learn. I’ve spent the last 2 years doing that and it has been an eye-opening experience.

I’m not done yet. I’m going to continue to seek out the stories of the people that I used to ignore, because there is no us and them.

There is only us.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

Wheaton College steps up and calls out White Christian Nationalism.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian.

How a Sean Feucht worship service convinced me I am no longer an evangelical

D.L. Mayfield wrote about her recent experiences as both an evangelical Christian and a Black Lives Matter supporter. How she feels is how I feel. I felt like I knew what I believed and that the subcommunity that I grew up in believed the same things. Then George Floyd was murdered and civil rights supporters started organizing Black Lives Matter protests. And I found out that many of “my people” cared more for White nationalism than they did for Biblical faithfulness and love.

How a Sean Feucht worship service convinced me I am no longer an evangelical

One can’t simply wish or pretend away what they are, I thought. Even though I felt confused, heartbroken and betrayed by the marriage of nationalism and Christianity I saw on full display in my community, that didn’t make me a sudden outsider. I simply was an evangelical; I had been born one — a home-schooled pastor’s kid who went to a Bible college to be a missionary — and I would remain one (until I got kicked out, I joked with my friends).

As a freelance writer who wrote primarily for evangelical audiences, I thought maybe I had a unique opportunity to evangelize my own people. They were, after all, the ones who raised me to love God and read the Bible, to become a disciple of Jesus. Surely they might be open to seeing how their views on immigration, police brutality, war, unchecked capitalism, the prison industrial complex and more might be at odds with the message of Jesus?

I should have believed my community when they told me over and over again exactly who they are.

Her experience attending a Christian counter-protest disguised as a concert just emphasized the gulf between her Biblical beliefs and their nationalist, White-supremacist beliefs.

Just standing on the edge of the worshipping crowd was enough to draw the ire and attention of many folks. For almost two hours I was constantly confronted, yelled at, livestreamed, prayed over and told I was not a real Christian (for the record, I was simply holding a sign that had a Bible verse on it).

I was not prepared for how much worse this would be than tear gas. I was not prepared for the pit in my stomach as I saw the thousands of Christians gathered, without masks, triumphantly singing songs to God, hands in the air and all eyes turned toward the worship leader on stage.

The person leading the event, Sean Feucht, has a mass of curly blond hair and is known for being opportunistic when it comes to marrying politics with worship leading. Feucht, a vocal Trump supporter and former congressional candidate, has been raising money to travel to spots in the United States where horrific deaths at the hands of police have taken place or where long-term protests in support of Black Lives Matter are going on. He sings happy songs about God being on his side, the speakers turned up to full volume in order to literally drown out the protesters’ cries for justice.

I knew almost every word to the songs the group was singing — but I could not bring myself to sing along.

Surrounded on all sides by people with arms raised high, eyes closed, joy and certainty shining on the faces of the true believers, it hit me: We read the same Bible, and we all call ourselves Christians. But we are not singing to the same God. I could no longer pretend otherwise.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Racism Black Lives Matter

We Can’t Just Stick to Football

Matthew Stafford, quarterback of the Detroit Lions, wrote the piece about racism and Black Lives Matter that I wish that I’d written. He’s saying, “It’s time for us to stop talking, start listening, and start empathizing.”

We Can’t Just Stick to Football

As most everyone knows, I haven’t exactly embraced social media over the years. It’s just not me. But I feel like it’s right to take the time to say what’s on my heart as we begin this new season together as a team. And what’s on my heart is that we all need to come together as a country and admit what we know is real. Deep down inside, no matter what political party we support, or what we do for a living, we know what’s real.

Police brutality, white privilege, racism — it’s all real.

It’s time we stop pretending, or defending, or just closing our eyes to what’s right in front of us. We have to listen, and we have to keep having these hard conversations.

And it’s not like this is just our history. This is right now.

These are not political problems. These are human problems. It should not be seen as a political statement to discuss this stuff honestly.

Later, he shares what he heard from a Black teammate.

But the one story that stuck with me so much was when Trey Flowers talked about how he copes with the anxiety of dealing with the police. Trey was explaining that if he were to ever get pulled over in his car — something that I have experienced many times without even thinking twice about it — he would roll down his window, put both hands on the wheel, and ask the officer if he would like him to step out of the car so he can handcuff him.

Just so that he is not seen as a threat.

Just so the officer can’t say, “Oh, he was reaching here, he was reaching there.…”

Just so he makes it back home.

If you’re a white person, all I’m asking you to do is to really think _about that. Imagine _that being your first instinct when you see police lights in your rearview mirror.

No one in America should have to feel this way.

Listen, I’m not some perfect person. I’m not trying to lecture anybody. I’ve made a million mistakes. I grew up in Highland Park, Texas, which is probably one of the most privileged places in the country. It’s a place that I still love very much, but it’s a bubble. That’s just a fact. I was not exposed to a lot of diversity or different ideas growing up. I was not educated on these issues, and I probably said a bunch of stupid things when I was young that I regret. But a big part of life is about looking inside yourself and trying to evolve as a person.

And when you hear your teammates telling these stories — and getting so emotional that they’re breaking down crying — you can’t just sit there and be silent.

And Matthew Stafford’s conclusion.

And if you grew up the way I did, and you still happen to live in one of those bubbles where you don’t have to worry about these things, maybe you’re tired of hearing about all this. Maybe you want to pretend it doesn’t exist, because you don’t see it with your own eyes. Maybe you just want us to “shut up and play football.”

That’s your right. I probably can’t change your mind.

All I can ask you to do, as we continue through this NFL season, is to close your eyes and really put yourself in other people’s shoes. Try for a minute to put all the social media and the politics and the arguing aside, and look within yourself.

Ask yourself hard questions.

But more than anything, listen.

It’s time.

This entry was tagged. NFL Racism Black Lives Matter

Black woman attacked by men wielding lighter fluid, racial slurs

Black woman attacked by men wielding lighter fluid, racial slurs →

Robert Chappell, writing for Madison365.

An 18-year-old Black woman says she was attacked with lighter fluid and flame early Wednesday morning by white men yelling racial slurs. She sustained second- and third-degree burns.

Althea Bernstein works as an EMT while studying to be a paramedic and firefighter. She says she was on her way to her brother’s house at around 1 am Wednesday when she reached a stoplight on Gorham Street near State Street in downtown Madison. She doesn’t remember for sure which intersection it was.

“I was listening to some music at a stoplight and then all of a sudden I heard someone yell the N-word really loud,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “I turned my head to look and somebody’s throwing lighter fluid on me. And then they threw a lighter at me, and my neck caught on fire and I tried to put it out, but I brushed it up onto my face. I got it out and then I just blasted through the red light … I just felt like I needed to get away. So I drove through the red light and just kept driving until I got to my brother’s (home).”

I never thought that I'd see this in Madison. This is absolutely reprehensible.

Stupid excuses for not investigating hangings

Stupid excuses for not investigating hangings →

Erika D. Smith, writing for the Los Angeles Times on racism in rural California.

There are huge problems in California’s high desert, ones that rival those in parts of the Midwest and Deep South.

It was only five years ago, for example, that Los Angeles County settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that deputies systematically harassed and discriminated against Black people and Latinos in Palmdale, including with military-style sweeps of federally subsidized Section 8 housing.

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to traffic stops, racial profiling is also a thing, which — and I’m just spitballing here — might be one reason so few Black men and women want to become deputies and patrol the high desert. Villanueva was complaining about this very thing on Monday, when a Palmdale resident called into the community conversation to press him about the lack of diversity on his force.

It’s an awful cycle of systemic racism that has led to where we are today.

Either the departments, if the sheriffs are to be believed, have deputies who are so ignorant that they can’t see why a Black man hanging from a tree would be evidence enough to start a homicide investigation.

Or, if we are to believe residents, we have deputies who believe Black lives are expendable. And since no one will notice when they are gone, why spend money and energy investigating a possible murder that will only rile up Black people and possibly shine a light on longstanding racist practices?

Republicans And Democrats Agree On The Protests But Not Why People Are Protesting

Republicans And Democrats Agree On The Protests But Not Why People Are Protesting →

Michael Tesler, writing for FiveThirtyEight on how Americans view the protests.

there’s a pretty big gap in just how strongly Democrats and Republicans back the protests. In last week’s Economist/YouGov poll, for instance, 73 percent of Democrats said they strongly approve of the nonviolent protests, compared with just 27 percent of Republicans. And according to the most recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, Democrats and Republicans are also fairly split on how peaceful the protests have been, how long they should last and what’s driving them. In that poll, Democrats were 40 points more likely than Republicans to say that the protests have been mostly peaceful and three-quarters of Republicans said they wanted the protests to stop now, compared to less than one-quarter of Democrats. Republicans were also 44 points more likely than Democrats to say the protests were primarily motivated by long-standing biases against the police, whereas most Democrats said the protests were motivated by a genuine desire to hold police accountable.

Republicans believe that people are demonstrating because they hate the police, Democrats believe that people are demonstrating because they want to hold the police accountable.

Students of color challenge Arizona schools to do more to address racism

Students of color challenge Arizona schools to do more to address racism →

Lily Altavena, writing for the Arizona Republic.

As police departments and corporations face public reckonings over systemic racism, schools, too, are confronting accusations of racism from current and former students and parents.

The Republic revisited more than a dozen racist incidents reported at metro Phoenix schools since 2016: Those incidents ranged from basketball spectators directing monkey noises at a Black player to students repeating the n-word over and over again in videos posted to social media.

Why You Need to Stop Saying "All Lives Matter"

Why You Need to Stop Saying "All Lives Matter" →

I can't possibly say this better than Rachel Elizabeth Cargle did, two months ago, in Harper's Bazaar.

Black lives did not matter when they were inhumanely transported like livestock from Africa. Black lives did not matter when they were lynched by the hundreds at the hands of the KKK. Black lives did not matter when they were attacked by dogs as they protested for equal rights.

With the weekly news cycle seeming to, without fail, include the death of at least one black boy at the hands of the police, or the body of a black woman being thrown to the ground by local law enforcement, or a black child being manhandled by the services meant to protect them, my heart sinks as I cling to the desire that black lives will matter.

If a patient being rushed to the ER after an accident were to point to their mangled leg and say, “This is what matters right now,” and the doctor saw the scrapes and bruises of other areas and countered, “but all of you matters,” wouldn’t there be a question as to why he doesn't show urgency in aiding that what is most at risk? At a community fundraiser for a decaying local library, you would never see a mob of people from the next city over show up angry and offended yelling, “All libraries matter!”—especially when theirs is already well-funded.

This is because there is a fundamental understanding that when the parts of society with the most pain and lack of protection are cared for, the whole system benefits. For some reason, the community of white America would rather adjust the blinders they’ve set against racism, instead of confront it, so that the country can move forward toward a true nation of justice for all.

My personal message to those committed to saying “all lives matter” in the midst of the justice-driven work of the Black Lives Matter movement: prove it. Point out the ways our society—particularly the systems set in place to protect citizens like police officers and doctors and elected officials—are showing up to serve and protect black lives. Illuminate the instances in which the livelihood of the black community was prioritized, considering the circumstances that put us into less-privileged spaces to begin with. Direct me to the evidence of justice for the bodies discarded at the hands of those in power, be it by unjustified murder, jail cell, poisoned water, or medical discrimination.

These are the things that must be rectified for us to be able to exhale. Until then, I'll be here, my black fist raised with Black Lives Matter on my lips.

The Biblical Problem With "Black Lives Matter"

What's the Biblical problem with "Black Lives Matter"? There isn't one.

Many, many people become very angry when they hear anyone say, "Black Lives Matter". They loudly respond with "ALL lives matter!", as though saying "black lives matter" means that only black lives matter.

Here's my take: All lives matter. But black lives getting ended has been widely ignored—as though black lives don’t matter. So I’ll happily emphasize that, yes, black lives matter.

Let me put it to you a couple of different ways.

Prodigal Sons Matter

Lisa Koons shared this on Facebook, and it was sent to me by a friend.

The father was waiting there with a big sign: #ProdigalSonsMatter

When the older brother saw it, he was angry, wouldn't attend the party, and moped around with his own sign #AllSonsMatter

Father: "Dude. It's not about you right now."

Lost Coins Matter

A woman owned 10 silver coins and lost one of them. She wrote #LostCoinsMatter on her planning board and cleared her schedule. Her friends, greatly desiring a brunch date, said, "But #AllCoinsMatter! You still have nine. Come with us!"

She, being wiser, said, "#AllCoinsMatter when you have all of the coins in hand. But when one is missing, #LostCoinsMatter and that coin temporarily becomes more important than all the rest."

She swept the floor. She turned on her brightest flashlight. She looked under every couch cushion, dumped out every bag, looked under every area rug, and searched on her hands and knees until she finally saw the bright gleam of her missing coin.

She'd missed the brunch date, but she'd ensured that now, truly #AllCoinsMattered.

Lost Sheep Matter

A man had one-hundred sheep and lost one of them. He threw up #LostSheepMatter on Twitter and asked for help finding it. His city-slicker cousin mocked him, saying #AllSheepMatter.

But the man left the ninety-nine in the pasture and searched for the lost one until he found it. He placed it on his shoulders and carried it home. When he got there, he texted his cousin saying, "#AllSheepMatter now that all of the sheep are home safe."

The Sermon On The Mount

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor…"

A heckler from the crowd interrupted to say, "Well actually, all people are blessed, Jesus."

Hurt Cities Matter

Seen on Facebook:

For my all lives matter folks: when the Boston marathon was bombed everybody's profile picture went "Boston strong" nobody said "all cities are strong!"

When the Las Vegas shooting happened, people changed their profiles "stand with Vegas", nobody sais "well what about the people that got shot in my city?"

Have you ever seen someone counter a "breast cancer" post with "what about colon cancer?"

But for some reason if someone says "Black lives matter", it turns into all inclusive "all lives matter"

It's not an either/or proclamation. When there is a crisis we have always ralled around that particular group. It doesn't discredit or diminish any other group, it just bings awareness and support to the group that needs attention.

  • Unknown (if you figure out who the original author is please let me know so I can properly give credit)

Your Crime Matters

When your home has been robbed, do you want to hear your neighbor say, "#AllCrimesMatter"?

After Police Reform, Crime Falls In Camden

After Police Reform, Crime Falls In Camden →

Sarah Holder writes at CityLab about a change in policing, in Camden, NJ.

In 2013, the Camden Police Department was disbanded, reimagined, and born again as the Camden County Police Department, with more officers at lower pay—and a strategic shift toward “community policing.”

That meant focusing on rebuilding trust between the community and their officers.

“For us to make the neighborhood look and feel the way everyone wanted it to, it wasn’t going to be achieved by having a police officer with a helmet and a shotgun standing on a corner,” Thomson said. Now, he wants his officers “to identify more with being in the Peace Corps than being in the Special Forces.”

A conversation with Thomson about community policing is likely to involve many such catchy maxims. “Destabilized communities,” he told me, “need guardians, not warriors.” He explained the “Back to the Future Paradox”—use technology wisely, but pair it with regular-old “Bobbies on the street.” And he stressed the idea that public safety is about access to social services, economic rejuvenation, and good schools, not just cops: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

As someone committed to seeing what the data shows, I do have to point out that—as of 2 years ago—it was too early to definitively call Camden's experiment a success.

The numbers themselves can be potentially misleading: Homicide rates, for example, aren’t necessarily a complete measure of urban violence. Just because fewer people are dying from gunshot wounds doesn’t mean fewer people are getting shot: It could also mean they’re getting better treatment, faster. One of Thomson’s Camden policies, nicknamed “Scoop and Go,” may be at work here, which mandates officers to personally drive victims to the hospital if ambulance wait times are too long. That saves lives, without really addressing the source of the violence itself. (Another possible factor: More victims are just getting to the hospital faster by calling an Uber.)

Buffalo Police have no respect for law & order

Buffalo Police have no respect for law & order →

59 Buffalo police have declared that they have no respect for law & order. Two of them were responsible for shoving an elderly gentlemen to the ground, giving him a scalp laceration and a concussion. The other 57 have just resigned from their position on the Emergency Response Team to protest the fact that the police brass suspended the two guilty police.

If the police can't handle facing scrutiny, oversight, and the possibility of discipline, they are not fit to wear the badge. Publish their names and then fire every. single. one. of. them.

L.A. woman is raising awareness for Breonna Taylor's death

L.A. woman is raising awareness for Breonna Taylor's death →

Just after midnight on March 13, Louisville police, executing a search warrant, forced their way into Taylor’s home. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot at an officer’s leg. The police fired back with at least 20 bullets, striking Taylor eight times [causing her death].

Walker, who said he thought they were being attacked by criminals, was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. The charges have since been dismissed. The police have not been charged, but the FBI is now investigating the shooting.

I know some people will want to focus on the fact that her boyfriend fired a shot at an officer's leg. "He attacked the police! It was his fault that Breonna died." Not so fast. Let's back up a step. The police executed a search warrant at midnight. What were they doing coming into a home after the residents were asleep in bed? And why did Kenneth Walker think that they were criminals?

The police were three plainclothes detectives. They were executing a no-knock warrant, looking for evidence on a drug dealer who had been arrested earlier that day. They thought that he might be having drugs shipped to Taylor and Walker's home. However, their suspicions were wrong.

Let's reframe this. After going to bed, Kenneth and Breonna woke to the sound of their door crashing in. Three men, dressed in every day clothes, charged through the door. Kenneth, who is a licensed gun owner, tried to protect his girlfriend from these home invaders. Rather than fleeing, as home invaders tend to do, these men answered with wild shooting. They shot off 20 rounds, managing to hit nearly every part of the house: the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and both bedrooms. Breonna Taylor was hit eight times and killed.

Breonna Tayler deserves justice. She died because police decided to follow-up on a slim lead, on a warrant that they possibly lied to get, by breaking into a house at night, without knocking, announcing their presence, and giving the residents a chance to wake up. Or doing the even more sensible thing and executing the warrant while the house was empty, making everyone safer. Their recklessness and and sloppiness led to Breonna Taylor's death.

Hidden By A Myth

America's police force is idealized and mythologized in a way that blinds people to the reality on the ground. America's police departments are almost entirely lacking in accountability and in desperate need of reform. Some are fine. I'm not here to praise the often praised, because it distracts from the vitally important task of fixing what's broken. If that statement bothers you, then I ask you to consider whether you have an idealized view of the police that distorts your sight and blinds you to the evil that is done in the name of law and order.

Many Americans think our police forces are largely made up of Officer Friendly. He is someone who is dedicated and selfless. Someone courageous, even heroic. Someone highly trained. Someone who serves the community by upholding law and order. Someone who seeks justice. Someone who daily puts their life on the line to enter an urban warfare zone of lawlessness and crime.

What if that stereotype is too optimistic?

What if too many officers are undertrained, lacking the knowledge necessary to tame their fears and deescalate tense confrontations? What if a few others are cowardly bullies who use force to hide their fear? Or are thugs, who react to verbal aggression with physical aggression? What if those officers enjoy wearing the uniform because they enjoy exercising power over others? And what if too many officers create the conflict that they're trying to prevent, because they've been told to view those around them as enemies and they act accordingly?

Individual members of America's police forces have spent the last week revealing the truth about themselves through their actions. Don't assume that every clash with protestors was instigated by the protestors or that the anger the protestors feel is unjustified and easily dismissed. For the past 7 days, the bad actors among America's police forces have chosen to display the contempt that they have for law and order. Watch their behavior with an open mind. Please.

Are you paying attention?

Are you paying attention? →

Are you paying attention? The protests of the last 4 days have been trying to draw your attention to police brutality. To the fact that America's police use violence routinely and without fear of consequences. This is not a matter of a few bad apples. This is a culture of bad policing that exists throughout America. And with the eyes of the nation on them, America's police are giving the world many examples of their lawless, unrestrained behavior.

As you watch these videos, ask yourself how many of these uniform-wearing criminals will

  1. Ever be identified?
  2. Disciplined in any substantive way (loss of pay, loss of rank, fired, etc.)
  3. Arrested
  4. Charged
  5. Convicted
  6. Sentenced

We need to clean up America's police forces. Or we are complicit in their crimes.

P.S. And here's a thread of over 100 incidents of the police attacking journalists. Including a reporter who was permanently blinded in one eye from non-lethal ammunition. And an Australian reporter, punched in the face, on live television.