Mothering Behind Bars: A Conversation with Siwatu-Salama Ra

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Siwatu-Salama Ra and family, freesiwatu.org.

Re-share from Geez magazine.

Siwatu-Salama Ra is an environmental justice activist in Detroit, Michigan. Two years ago, she was arrested for pulling out a gun when someone violently threatened her two-year-old daughter. She was a licensed gun owner and never fired a shot. She was found guilty of felony firearm and given a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. She gave birth to her son while in prison. After serving eight months, she has been released on bond as she awaits her appeal. Her case raises many questions about self-defense, racial disparities in the justice system, and the treatment of incarcerated women. Her story also highlights the power of organizing and community. Lydia Wylie-Kellermann interviewed Siwatu while she was out on bond awaiting her appeal.

Geez: Could you start by introducing yourself and saying a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Siwatu-Salama Ra: My name is Siwatu-Salama Ra. I’m a daughter of a long-time community organizer and activist, Rhonda Anderson. I was raised by a single mother who raised all four of her children and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. I followed a lot of what my mom did, and I started environmental justice work at about 14.

Recently, people have given me another title – a difficult title – of being a political prisoner. I was released from prison almost five months ago. I came home to a baby who was turning six-months-old, who I had given birth to in prison. And a three-year-old who is close to being four now. I left when she was two. Continue reading

Co-mingling of mischief

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Geez staff: Em Jacoby, Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, Lucia Wylie-Eggert, and Kateri Boucher Photo credit: Daniel Wylie-Eggert

Dear Radical Discipleship readers,

These last few months my life has intertwined between daily posts on RadicalDiscipleship and the crafting of word and images for Geez magazine. I love the work. My heart rises to the gathering of stories and the power of word in our work for liberation.

I am struck by the ways that RadicalDiscipleship and Geez co-mingle in their theologies, their work, and the communities of writers and readers. They bless one another and I am blessed by them both. They are different looking limbs in the common struggle.  I long to conspire more holy mischief between the two. My mind is percolating and if you have thoughts, send them my way.

In the meantime, I want to make sure the invitation for both readers and writers is explicit. RadicalDiscipleship is a daily online dose of spirit. Geez is a strictly off-line oasis of beauty and story arriving in your mailbox four times a year.

If you don’t believe me, Tom Airey, my fellow co-curator and friend said “Over the past few years, Geez magazine has been like an ice cold IPA for my soul.”

So, we are offering a rare deal to RadicalDiscipleship readers to subscribe to Geez for 20% off. (A one year subscription normally $39 a year would be $31.20 or a three year subscription for $105 is now just $84.) Simply click HERE and put in the code “RD”.

Also, if you want to join Geez’s monthly newsletter or sign up to be in our writers/artist list, click HERE.

Ok, that is as close to an ad as you are going to get on RD.

Love and gratitude for this community,

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
lydia@geezmagazine.org

This Baptism

Profile PhotoBy Shelby Smith

On June 8th I was baptized by my home church, the Wilderness Way Community in Portland, OR. I was asked to reflect on why I was choosing to be baptized.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”—Micah 6:8

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”—Phil 4:13

The Bible and its legacy is full of contradictions and conflicts and also beauty and strength. In 2014, when I came to Wilderness Way I found myself feeling dry and broken. That feeling was an extended phase that continued for some time. I had a relationship with God but Jesus and Christianity was completely off the table. Except the occasional times when I would pick up the Bible, read some passages—and feel disgusted or bored or confused and walk away again. I wrestled with a lot of shoulds, anger and fears. I struggled to do justice, to love kindness and the walk humbly with God. I struggled acutely with all three of these. Continue reading

Bound By Love

We The People, Delivery

Monica Lewis-Patrick and Debra Taylor leading up the ideology of the beloved community in Detroit

By Tommy Airey, on the Parable of the Good Samaritan

When the lawyer finally got face-time with Jesus, he poured out what was heaviest on his heart, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He groped for a guarantee. He wanted a divine will and testament. He was begging for a bill of rights.

As usual, Jesus pivoted on freedom. He was never much into being The Bible Answer Man. He asked the lawyer how he interpreted the sacred text. The lawyer’s answer, according to Jesus, was spot-on. Eternity’s most valuable asset has nothing to do with where we go when we die. It is a gut-busting love for both our higher power and our lowly neighbors. Right here. Right now.  Continue reading

Collapse, Part II

WolinBy Ric Hudgens

In this apocalyptic age where if the politics don’t kill you the ecology will, I am pondering a distinction made three decades ago by the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin. Wolin distinguished between a politics of intending and tending. Comparing these two modes of thinking Wolin saw one as prone to control and power and the other as a means of attention and care.*

The politics of intention requires power, as we strain toward a future that is not yet guaranteed. Continue reading

To Do Is To Know

the-good-samaritan-1907By Ched Myers, a short commentary on this weekend’s Gospel Story (Luke 10:25-37; right: “The Good Samaritan” by Paula Modersohn-Becker)

Note: This piece was originally posted on Radical Discipleship on July 7, 2016.

The famous Parable of the Good Samaritan is often sentimentalized, but its subversive character and genuine profundity can never be exhausted. It comes on the heels of Jesus’ sending out of the “seventy,” and his long “missionary discourse” (Lk 10:1-24).  How different the history of Christianity would have been had disciples in every age followed these relatively simple but incisive instructions to travel with the gospel in a vulnerable and provisional mode, rather than a dominating one! But if the unholy joining of mission and empire has been the first pillar of Christendom’s apostasy, surely the second has been the church’s tendency to define faith through dogma. It is this religious bad habit that Luke addresses in this Sunday’s parable. Continue reading

Wild Church: Plumb Lines and Prophets

processed with darktable (www.darktable.org)

Greta Thunberg by Stephane P cc

Proper 10(15) C

Amos 7:7-17

By Matthew Humphrey

“See I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people.”

So Amos prophecies in today’s lectionary reading. This shepherd-turned prophet emerges from South of the Border to unleash a fiery word upon Israel and King Jeroboam. Like Hosea before him, he professes, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a shepherd, and a dresser of sycamore-trees.” This location that makes him the choice instrument of God’s word to Israel. Continue reading