Moral Activism

PovertyThe Poor People’s Campaign is growing, organizing for action in 2018.  Sign up to join the coalition of 25,000+ here.  A summary from Rev. William Barber:

A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition.  It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane.  We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.

The Tension of Two Postures

CvilleFrom the conclusion of The Mennonite blog post “Nonviolence Against White Supremacy After Charlottesville” by Tim Nafziger and Mark Van Steenwyk: 

We are both Christian pacifists committed to creative responses to white supremacy that step outside the myth of redemptive violence.

Pacifists are at their best when they commit to strong solidarity and are willing to lay their lives on the line for the ones they love. It can be a pure expression of compassion–suffering with the oppressed in such a way as to magnify the full humanity of the oppressed while, at the same time, showing love for the oppressor as well. Continue reading

My Own Awakening

AlexanderFrom an Onbeing interview with Michelle Alexander (April 21, 2016):

I was raised to believe that there had been extraordinary racial injustice in our history, but that we are on the right path. And we may have a long way to go, but we are on the right path, headed, albeit too slowly, towards that promised land that Dr. King spoke of so eloquently. And in many ways, I think my own parents, being interracially married, felt they had to believe in that, they had to believe that by bringing mixed race children into this world they were bringing them into a world where there was hope for their future.

And so I was really raised on that narrative that we were overcoming. And when I became a civil rights lawyer and was a baby civil rights lawyer, just starting out, and I saw that sign stapled to a telephone pole saying, “The drug war is the new Jim Crow,” yeah, I thought that was hyperbole. I shook my head and said, “Yeah, the criminal justice system is racist in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t help to make such absurd comparisons to Jim Crow. People will just think you’re crazy.”

And then I hopped on the bus and headed to my new job as director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU in California. And it was really only through those years of representing victims of racial profiling and police brutality, and investigating patterns of drug law enforcement in poor communities of color, and attempting to assist people who had been released from prison as they faced just one unimaginable barrier after another — not just to their so-called “re-entry,” but to their basic survival after being released from prison — that I had my series of experiences that led to my own awakening that we hadn’t ended racial caste in America. We had just redesigned it.

White Liberals, You Too Are Complicit

AliciaBy Alicia Crosby, a Chicago-based community organizer, re-posted with permission from her blog Chasing The Promise

Today I find my body wrestling with illness while my spirit fights against the crushing weight of seeing the toll white supremacy is taking on the world around me. While I feel we all have some degree of complicity we can afford to address, I need to name a particular manifestation of this explicitly.

I am utterly exhausted by all the ways that progressive, liberal, and radical white folks run away from and contort themselves to avoid dealing with the truth that they too are complicit in upholding white supremacy. It’s often not overt supremacy that troubles me so much as the ways in which this particular group of folks refuses to identify, interrogate, hold, then deconstruct their own complicity in upholding this oppressive system.  Read MORE.

 

Fifteen Years Fermented

Little CaesarOn September 12, the brand new $800 million+ Little Caesar’s Arena kicked off with a Kid Rock concert on the southern edge of the Cass Corridor in Detroit. It was the culmination of white billionaire Mike Ilitch’s* fifteen-year “dereliction by design,” scores of properties purchased and left to rot.  Land values were intentionally driven lower so Ilitch could buy even more. One week after the grand opening, prompted by this journalistic prose, Lindsay Airey was visited by a nightmare. Her attempt to relay it in poetry: 

A sea of black faces.
Beaten, downtrodden
by violent displacement,
callous disregard.
Greed turned sick
the souls
of these precious ones’
attackers.
Gluttonous murder,
seeping like poison,
hemorrhaging
out their murdering pores. Continue reading

Irma and La Tuna, Charlottesville and North Korea: The Voice Under the Voice, Still Unheard

KidRockTrump

Detroit, Michigan: Six sold-out shows to open up the new $800 million Little Caesar’s Arena

Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI)

The signs of our time shout! Harvey hammers Houston and the entire Gulf Coast camps out in a boat or a grave. Then comes Irma with Jose and Katya in Her wake, raking an entire peninsula with rebuke. While fire ungraced with gendered traces of naming, blisters the west. All on top of Charlottesville, itself evoking Trump, chopping restraints militant and policing, channeling a large chunk of the dominant demographic of the country! As I write, Kid Rock readies his concert of hate in downtown Detroit, as front for the Ilitch family take of Motown turf, faking concern, raking in tax dollar support, celebrating white vituperation in the gala opening of a new ice hockey stadium at the core of an 82 % black city. Little Caesar indeed! But what do all of these events have to do with each other? How might a community aspiring to some measure of humanity and morality “hear” what these events sound out? I do not yet even dare to say, “Respond.” Continue reading

Don’t Forget to Feed the Loas

The Light of the WorldFrom Elizabeth Alexander’s grief memoir The Light of the World (2015). This is the conclusion of the final lecture she gave to her “African American Art Today” class, just one week after the sudden death of her husband:

“Don’t forget to feed the loas” serves as an entreaty or opening salvo and refrain in Ishmael Reed’s great novel Mumbo Jumbo. The phrase articulates the imperative to remember to honor the deity-like ancestral forces that guide us through our contemporary lives. The offerings on their altars may be fruit or flowers, chicken or wine; when taken metaphorically, offerings may also be found in the form of art and the calling of names that honors our dead and keeps them near… Continue reading