Book Review: The Cross and the Lynching Trees

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Petra Zantingh, “Hospitality Tree (Zechariah 3:10),” 2018, water based media on wood panel, 24 x 24 inches, Private collection.

By Tommy Airey, This article first appeared in Geez magazine, Summer 2020, Geez 57: CO₂conspirators: Communing with Trees.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously clarified that a law cannot make a man love him, but it can keep a man from lynching him.

King knew that it would take both a change of heart and a change of policy to create a world no longer built on what he called “the giant triplets of evil”: racism, materialism, and militarism. White Christians have long obsessed over the heart. One major theological underpinning of this trend is an abstract, sentimental interpretation of the death of Jesus that sidesteps the giant triplets by spiritualizing and futurizing salvation. While Black folks are catching hell on earth, white Christians counterfeit the cross by turning it into a VIP pass to heaven. Continue reading “Book Review: The Cross and the Lynching Trees”

Relinquishing the Patriarchy

ambLast year, Detroit-based author and activist adrienne maree brown poured out an epic post on patriarchy. The entire post is required reading for men on the radical journey. This is her conclusion, a list of 14 practices.

the good news is, there are practices that work. here are steps i guarantee will help you to relinquish patriarchy.

1. recognize that as a man, you are a part of patriarchy. even if you have made some effort to break out of it, the system/insanity of patriarchy is still there for you to fall back into under pressure or duress.

2. be particularly vigilant about your masculinity growing toxic in your 30-50s age range. those are the years for many of us where the weight of adulting gets real and feels too heavy, and the dreams we had for our lives may not be coming true – hence the pattern of midlife crises. this is when men can become strangers to the women who trust them. yes, change is constant, and we all deserve space to change. none of us deserve a pass to change in ways that make us more harmful to those with less systemic power than we have, especially not those who have carried us. Continue reading “Relinquishing the Patriarchy”

When They Call You a Terrorist

When They Call YouBy Tommy Airey

Re-posted from June 2018.

In our hyper-connected world, a buffet of spiritual practices abound. One immediately thinks of meditation, contemplative ecology, yoga, fasting, sabbath, jubilee, self-reflective bible study, liturgical direct action, poetry, therapy, 12-step recovery, mutual edification and confession. Now is a better time than ever for the somewhat privileged people of faith and conscience among us to fast-pass the practice of attentive listening to the front of the line. After all, Spirit moves when the marginalized and muted are given voice—those who are Women, who are Black and Brown, who are Queer, who hail from Somewhere Else. Continue reading “When They Call You a Terrorist”

This moment in history- from a trauma therapist

96266986_10100523422419312_5235973391940321280_oBy Erika Fox, shared on facebook June 16.
Shared with permission

Social media is not my platform (flip phone user here) so I have not mastered the art of articulating myself with fewer words. But the words keep rising up and waking me in the middle of the night, calling me back from a decade-long break from writing I was sure was permanent, and this seems a place to share some of them despite their length.

As a trauma therapist, there is so much I could say about this moment in history, about the relationship between trauma and oppression and the intergenerational transmission of trauma. And while I will continue to hold space for the trauma (and resilience and brilliance!) of Black bodies, Indigenous bodies, and bodies of color, those are not my words to share. My deep love compels me to share these words with white bodies – because addressing our unconscious racial conditioning and patterned responses from our unhealed traumas is necessary for the work of racial justice and restoring our humanity. Continue reading “This moment in history- from a trauma therapist”

The Trees are on Our Side

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Zyanha Bryant, change.org , “‘Black lives matters’ sprayed on Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park, Charlottesville, Virginia.

By Grace Aheron. This article first appeared in Geez magazine, Summer 2020, Geez 57: CO₂conspirators: Communing with Trees.

The cypresses exult over you, the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low, no one comes to cut us down.’
– Isaiah 14:8

On August 12, 2017, the largest white supremacist gathering in the last 50 years occured in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia – my home. For many white people, that day was a revealing of the ugly, shuddering underside of this country’s normally “palatable” racism. For many Black folks and people of colour, it was a concentrated version of daily realities. Continue reading “The Trees are on Our Side”

Don’t Be So Careful

BayoBy Bayo Akomolafe (originally posted to social media on June 28, 2020)

Don’t be so careful. Don’t be so calculating about where you place your feet. Don’t be so logical. The beckoning horizons do not dip into a merciless abyss, from which nothing can be salvaged. You will not fall if you reach the abominable edges – where the ground stops abruptly; you will fly. Yes. There’s much more room than our fondest ideologies and contrived evidences could possibly apprehend. So, dance with the sensuous decadence that comes with knowing that you are larger than your containing spaces, that your most outrageous obsessions and drunken fantasies are just as inconsequential as the most popular fads and the most accurate heavens. And in the heat of your glorious performance, toss away those interrupting preoccupations with outcomes, with how you appear in the eyes of public scrutiny, or with how well you are doing – for you are not a crease in the fabric of things, you are the fabric of things…exploring the intense and forlorn beauty of a crease. Life is a dance, and dancing wasn’t invented for destinations.

We Vow to Break the Yokes

FloydBy Grecia Lopez-Reyes, an L.A.-based community organizer. This was written for a memorial for George Floyd in L.A. (right) a few weeks ago.

Jesus of Nazareth, you who were wrongly accused and crucified by the state, break the bonds of injustice.

We have gathered here today in pain, grief, and anger demanding justice. We gather remembering the life of George Floyd, who as Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the State. The murder of George Floyd and the wrongful killings happening in our black communities has shaken this nation. You have woken us up Lord, because justice demands it! Continue reading “We Vow to Break the Yokes”

I Asked the Redwoods

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The face of the Redwood. Alameda, California, January 2015. Pussreboots CC.

By Nichola Torbett. This article appeared in Geez magazine, Summer 2020, Geez 57: CO₂conspirators: Communing with Trees.

A couple weeks ago, walking in the redwoods with a dog, at the suggestion of adrienne maree brown, I decided to ask the trees about COVID-19.

Basically, what I heard from the trees is that even this virus has a message for us if we are willing to hear it. No, they were not saying that “God created a virus to punish us” – trust me, I checked, because I have not forgotten the 1980s. But they were clear that there was a message. Continue reading “I Asked the Redwoods”

Geez Calls for Advent Reflections

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Bioregional Advent Wreath Credit: Sarah Holst

Geez magazine’s
Call for Submissions: Advent Reflections

Due July 1, 2020

Could you use a little quiet? Some darkness and stillness? Maybe some candlelight? In this moment, as summer heats up, amidst pandemic and now the street struggle against police violence and white supremacy, quiet and prayer seem like a welcome thought.

This year, Geez magazine will be publishing a daily Advent reflection book. We are looking for reflections, poetry, prayers, and whatever else you can think of that fits in 200 words. Continue reading “Geez Calls for Advent Reflections”

A Sustainable Culture Built Around Anti-Racism

resmaaAn excerpt from an interview Kristen Moe did with trauma therapist Resmaa Menakem, originally posted on Medium (May 24, 2020).

…we will not fix the problem of structural racism and racial violence in this country unless we heal the ways that racial trauma lives in our bodies. It will not happen. One thing that white people and white justice leaders are starting to understand is that there’s work to be done among white people — and that work has to be embodied. White people have got to start to lean into how to create culture around the abolition of white body supremacy. Not workshops, not book clubs, but culture. There’s been a culture built around segregation and assimilation; but there has not been a sustainable culture built around anti-racism. Not yet. How do we build a culture in which white people name their children in the tradition of anti-racist heroes? What are the stories of that culture? What are the rules of admonishment and rules of acceptance? What does the elderhood process look like in an anti-racist culture? How do we teach our white children about race in a way that is open and honest but doesn’t center them as the standard? How do we leverage our white body currency to make lives for our children less arduous? How do we develop the ability to notice when we’re taking up too much room, or when we’re hiding because we’re uncomfortable? Continue reading “A Sustainable Culture Built Around Anti-Racism”