Confession & Call to Action: White Supremacy & the 2020 Election

Today, once again, all eyes are on Michigan as the State Board of Canvassers votes to certify the election results. This is a statement written by white radical disciples in Detroit. Click on and sign to be in solidarity.

We are speaking in this moment as White people.

We join our voice with others.

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This is Repentance

By Tommy Airey

I believe that a higher Power sews everything into a fabric of belovedness. As a result, we belong to everyone else. I also believe that it was this divine love and belonging that beckoned Jesus to break rank from well-worn supremacy ideologies that use race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status or national citizenship as a litmus test for greatness. Jesus knew that supremacy destroys belovedness and belongingness—and that supremacy can only be broken when people break rank together. He called this transformative process “repentance.”

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Time for a Retreat?

On offering from our dear comrade Marcia Lee (right) dialing in from eastside Detroit.

As Grace Lee Boggs reminds us, in the Chinese word for chaos, there is both opportunity and danger.  These times can be especially difficult to navigate when you are in leadership.  To support you in your leadership and to grow a community of leaders, we invite you to join us for a series of retreats for your soul and role and to have a community with which to grow and learn together for a year. 

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This is Where You Start: Letter to a White Child on Choices, Ancestors, and the Future

By Rev. Margaret Anne Ernst

PC: Kelly Sikkema

October 2020 

I started writing this letter to you four years ago on the kitchen table, the winter after a man had been elected to the highest office in our land who represents such meanness, such smallness of imagination, and such hostility towards humanity that I had to start writing to someone. Best, I thought, to someone not fully grown, or even here yet. If I write to you, I must believe in you.  I must believe in something past this moment, this nightmare, as many people behind me have imagined past the terrifying circumstances of their times. 

Your world is, to me, barely glimpsed, like the moon showing itself from behind the clouds. And yet I will hang on to that moonbeam like I would clutch a breadcrumb after having not eaten for days. I choose to believe in the future.

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Hope as an Intervention upon America’s Antiblackness

Note: This is part of a series of short posts, in the lead-up to the election, from leaders reflecting on hope and/or resistance.

By Rev. Nick Peterson

Hope, for me, owes nothing to politics. The extent to which we think hope alongside and within the American political apparatus is discouraging at best and soul-killing at worst. At present, the religious right imagines American politics as the right site to enact a near-theocratic rule of law. Holding fast to an American exceptionalism established by the puritans, the right’s religious imagination appeals to a moral yesteryear that never was. Meanwhile, the left opts for a liberal humanism that, on the one hand, narrates inclusion and acceptance as an American God-given birthright. While on the other, liberals insist that the unceasing acts of anti-black violence are not reflections of who we are. On both sides, hope is a means to America.

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Hope is a Verb, a Song Called “Anyhow”

Note: This is part of a series of short posts, in the lead-up to the election, from leaders reflecting on hope and/or resistance.

By Johari Jabir (right)

Hope is a verb, a form of action not based on feelings or what is seen in ordinary time. To hope is to advance a stubborn, aggressive optimism.  

On January 1, 1863, a large gathering of Black and white people assembled beneath a sprawling oak tree in Beaufort, South Carolina, to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Standing on a platform behind military officers, dignitaries, and abolitionists was the nation’s first Black regiment, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. After the proclamation was read, the regiment was presented with an American flag donated by a New York congregation. All of the ceremony and pageantry had gone along as planned, until one speaker’s comments were interrupted by an elderly Black man who stood to sing,  

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Anchored in a Reality Different from Our Own

Note: This is part of a series of short posts, in the lead-up to the election, from leaders reflecting on hope and/or resistance.

By Rev. Tiffany Ashworth

A few months ago, I preached a sermon on Psalm 1. During my preparation, I kept stumbling over the phrase their delight is in the law. Delight and law? From where I’m standing, those are contradictory. Images of law conjure drudgery, burden, and weight. Law all too often represses rather than restores, closes in rather than opens up, belittles rather than inspires. It can be anxiety-making, self-preserving, and power-seeking rather than peace-imparting, generous, and life-giving. How can anyone delight in a law? Law, to me, often belongs on the path of dried up chaff not well-watered trees.

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Possibly Even Magic

Note: In the lead-up to the election, is prodding leaders to submit creative and concise pieces (500 words or less) on both hope and resistance.

Bree Newsome, June 27, 2015.

By Ric Hudgens

In the early 1980s, not long after the death of Steven Biko, I registered for an independent study on the nonviolent struggle in South Africa. I knew little of nonviolence or South Africa and wanted to learn more. Based on my semester-long research, I concluded that there wasn’t much chance without bloodshed for a peaceful outcome in South Africa. Of course, I was wrong. Academic research is linear, but real life isn’t. There were things below the surface and things about to surface in South Africa that I couldn’t predict.

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On Getting Stoned: A Sermon on Outback/Wilderness

By Jim Perkinson, for the St. Peter’s Episcopal community in Detroit, MI on October 4, 2020 (Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 3:1-4:11)

Detroit Will Breathe

So we are up against the wall now, facing the logic of the country, as our settler colonial and white supremacist history rises up incarnate in an orange-headed inciter.   We have lived without yet fully facing what we have visited on others—on Natives, genocidally eliminated to the tune of 95% (somewhere between 60-90 million killed over 500 years), African folk enslaved (behind the 12 million carried across the Atlantic and sold on the auction block, 30-40 million killed before getting here), 553 other places invaded over the course of 244 years, resources pirated, garbage and pollution outsourced to the rest of the globe, an ocean heating and full of plastic, 200 species pushed into extinction per day, Water and Fire as Great Living Beings, now shouting back, and a tiny microbe whispering warning: full halt, stop your self-absorption as a species, recognize the rest of the biosphere as well as the all the displaced marginalized people, as Creatures of Beauty and Worth and Mystery.  Do we—who have been the beneficiaries—think we should continue to be exempted from what we have visited on so many others?  We are on the Titanic, the iceberg is in full view, there is probably not time to turn the rudder, what now?! 

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