And Not a Moment Before

CvilleBy Tommy Airey, co-editor of RadicalDiscipleship.net

On Friday, in preparation for this past weekend’s neo-fascist march and rally in Charlottesville, Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, cited “the right of every American to deny those ideas more attention than they deserve.” He strongly encouraged people to stay away from the counter-protest.  As if oppressors and abusers just go away if we don’t confront them with our humanity.  As if level-headedness and moderation have ever saved those catching hell.

However, this was far from the first time that McAuliffe has distanced himself from the militant nonviolent tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who, while in a Birmingham cell, rejected “the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea” of white moderate clergy.  Jyarland Daniels, the founder of the racial equity organization Harriet Speaks, reminded me recently that, in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election, McAuliffe, a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, worked tirelessly to ensure that (mostly black) ex-felons could get the right to vote. This is significant because McAuliffe’s support (with most of the Democratic Party establishment) for mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders and felon disenfranchisement laws have crippled black families and neighborhoods for decades. Continue reading

Whose Violence? Which Insurgence?: White Supremacy in the Mirror of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation

Nat TurnerBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI), prepared comments presented at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church’s “Social Justice Forum,” October 21, 2016 in response to the film

It was a Jewish man, Walter Benjamin, during WWII, who once said, “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if [it] wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious” (Benjamin, 255)

Nat Turner’s spirit is buried beneath the shouts and cries (Cone, 61)

It is a deep honor to be asked to offer a few words in memory of so courageous and clear a spirit of resolve as Nat Turner. It is an honor doubly difficult to measure up to in that my skin is white and my life circumstance therefore privileged with respect to Turner’s color and condition and the people whose struggle for justice he represented with such determination and daring that it presaged the only resolution of the institution of slavery white people would accept. War. And it is a war that has never yet ceased. And so my standing here today is not innocent. Continue reading

Encircle Them With Energetic Encouragement

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An important message about dismantling white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA tomorrow (right: flyer for the event).  From Sarah Thompson, the executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams:

First and foremost I want to send love to you all.

Thank you for who you are and the work that you are doing in the world.

It is important. You are courageous. Now is the time to grow our souls.

Please read on.

This weekend, a racist rally is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia called “Unite the Right.” You can read about it online (poster attached). This article by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors “hate groups and other extremists,” warns that the rally could be “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.” The convergence of alt-right folks has been emboldened by the national administration, and they do have a sense of their world falling apart. They chose Charlottesville to rally after that city’s vote to remove the Confederate statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Their goal is to bring white people on the right wing together, out from the shadow of the internet, so they can cultivate real relationships and craft a palatable platform to build more political power. The images they chose for the rally draw from Nazi-era propoganda. Continue reading

Fresh Stop Markets

Fresh StopCompelling work going in Lexington, KY.  Click on and scroll down for a great interview on Food Justice Radio.  

Fresh Stop Markets are “pop up” farm-fresh food markets set up at local churches and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods. The food has been paid for in advance so that farmers don’t face the same degree of risk as they do with a standard farmers’ market. People in the community describe Fresh Stop Markets as welcoming and happy—like a family reunion where all five senses are engaged and there is lots of laughter, food and fun! Continue reading

Subverting the Script

Aireys, Early 20sBy Tommy Airey, co-editor RadicalDiscipleship.Net 

In the early 1980s, historian William Appleman Williams described the state of affairs in the United States in the title of his book Empire As a Way of Life.  For centuries, The Imperial Script has called for “manifest destiny,” imposing our political, social and economic policies on people all over the world—from the genocide of native Americans in “the new world,” to importing slaves from Africa, to imperialist wars with countries from Mexico to Iraq, stealing land, resources and cultures. The United States was, and continues to be, built on what Dr. Lily Mendoza calls “the undeniable debris of dead bodies, stolen wealth, and the enslavement of other beings, both human and non-human.” These were the secret steroids injected into my family’s “success” story. Continue reading

A Value Worth Working For

bellAn excerpt from an i-D.vice.com interview with author bell hooks:

What does the word ‘justice’ mean to you?

What we see in many cases is a white supremacy and what defines that as a political system is grave injustice. So justice has a value worth working for, worth sacrificing for. Dr Martin Luther King did talk a lot about justice, but I also think of a modern day activist like Bryan Stevenson, who is committed to trying to create justice for black children and black people who are unjustly imprisoned; he’s just amazing. Conversation is very connected to this, one of the books that we are looking at, at the institute, is called The Soul Making Room by Dee Dee Risher, who used to write for a Christian magazine called The Other Side. Her whole thesis is around the degree to which hospitality and willingness to engage the stranger aids us in efforts to end domination. I can’t think of a more appropriate moment to discuss this, as we going through such a rise in xenophobia and white supremacy at the moment. We need to talk about what it means to embrace people who are not like ourselves. Continue reading