A Whole Range of Oppressions

An excerpt from the 45-year-old Combahee River Collective.

The major source of difficulty in our political work is that we are not just trying to fight oppression on one front or even two, but instead to address a whole range of oppressions. We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual, or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources and power that groups who possess anyone of these types of privilege have.

The psychological toll of being a Black woman and the difficulties this presents in reaching political consciousness and doing political work can never be underestimated. There is a very low value placed upon Black women’s psyches in this society, which is both racist and sexist. As an early group member once said, “We are all damaged people merely by virtue of being Black women.” We are dispossessed psychologically and on every other level, and yet we feel the necessity to struggle to change the condition of all Black women. In “A Black Feminist’s Search for Sisterhood,” Michele Wallace arrives at this conclusion:

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the second coming of easter (I Corinthians 15)

For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the third in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form with text below.

the second coming of easter (I Corinthians 15)

jim perkinson
4-12-20

empty churches preaching empty tombs
to empty pews, a vision of gloom, 
the doom of the poor now creeping close 
in corona-spoor knocking even at the door 
of the rich and who would have thought 
it all could upend in a single dash of air-splash, invisible, carrying not quite living code 
from animal to our abode everywhere, 
leading all but rash, bible-brash evangelical hubris
to hunker in shelter, or fear-trembled,
in hovels or dense-packed streets 
of homeless retreats or refugee tents
a world of babel towers and fake news showers 
and glowering, bulge-veined purveyors of cover 
for the bankers and oil exec wankers to push profit-margins to the edge of the cliff . . .

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the gospel (John 18:1-19:42)

For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the second in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form.

the gospel (John 18:1-19:42)

jim perkinson
9/30/99

god weeping 
broken bottle slivers 
on the cheek of time
blood cheek dripping 
in roses of divinity
under the fallen street lamp
god is a broken light-shard 
of shattered moon 
in the midnight of neon
a swallowed sun
giving birth 
to black burnt words
and charcoals of ghost 
sucked like a water pipe 
of lost manhoods
god is smoke ring solitude
the profile of dead factory pipes
incinerator ash falling 
on pale skin
the dream of stars 
shrouded 
in the orange night 
of city
and the eyes 
of sleeping mothers
hearing moccasins 
on the path

the wail is low
the howl is heard only under the skin
the groan is your own
the taste is flesh
the touch is bone
the shiver is red
the wind is hawk
the owl is waiting
the rib is broken
the treaty is gone
the father is underground
the finger is cold
the ear is dried channel
the tongue is choked with nothing
the head is cracked
the arm is slack
the leg is bent
the back is supine and down

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Memory and Mandate: A Meditation on Maundy Thursday

By Ken Sehested

Under the sway of Easter bunnies, chocolate binges, and spring fashion sales, Holy Week and Resurrection Morning observances have shed almost all connections to the volatile political events in Jerusalem leading up to Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into the city.

The season of Jesus’ final visit to Jerusalem was the fevered occasion of Passover. Passover was the story of the Hebrews’ miraculous escape from Egyptian bondage. Passover’s observance in first century Palestine was like President’s Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day all rolled up into one. Judea was again in bondage, this time subjugated by Roman occupation. Jews from around the countryside streamed into Jerusalem for reasons of piety mixed with nationalist fervor. Rome ramped up its troop level every year at this time.

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Challenging Power and Privilege: Is Good News for the poor Bad News for many of us in North America?

By Will O’Brien, coordinator of The Alternative Seminary

Our Western scholarship and church teaching have communicated to us the notion that the four Gospels convey “objective truth,” and we read them to discern their objective and universal meaning. But such an approach to Scripture, bred in the Western / European church, has functioned to uphold social power systems of domination. What is “objective” and what is “universal” have been adjudicated conveniently by church hierarchy and monarchs to serve the needs of Empire, muting the prophetic and liberating voices of scripture.

In recent decades, the Western church has had its safe objectivity subverted by the powerful and insistent voices from the global south, who have forced us to reckon with the social contexts of scripture – both in its historical origins and in our contemporary world. They have exposed the lie behind the phony neutrality of Western biblical scholarship and challenged our concepts of universal meaning by reading the gospels in contexts of real-life suffering, oppression, and unjust social systems.

Continue reading “Challenging Power and Privilege: Is Good News for the poor Bad News for many of us in North America?”

if the donkey could talk (Matthew 21: 1-11)

For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the first in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form and adding commentary and footnotes flowing from their conversations.

if the donkey could talk (matt. 21: 1-11)

jim perkinson
original: 3/27/99
updated: 3/30/22

so what do you think
mister flop-eared ferry-back
carting the precious cargo across
palm-covered dust and
peasant boys shouting
messianic manifestos
in the ears of pilate’s guard
shouting terror in the tone-deaf ears

of old-men-arrogance
the priestly pomposity
the scribal-orthodox heresy of

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The Time is Very Urgent – We Must Slow Down

By Bayo Akomolafe and Marta Benavides , a letter to deepen the conversation, re-posted from BayoAkomolafe.net

Recently, we were privileged to be part of a Global Summit organized by DEEEP (Developing Europeans’ Engagement for the Eradication of Poverty) and a coalition of activist organizations that includes CIVICUS, CONCORD and GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty). We gathered in the city of Johannesburg to consider what a different world might look like and, much more importantly, how we could collectively work together to bring about this world. We celebrate the amazing efforts of the organizers that made this possible.

Bayo Akomolafe (one of us) delivered the keynote address, in which he espoused a new politics of engagement, a new sort of activism for the times. On the heels of his passionate plea, we now write. We, members of the so- called Global South, now offer to you the gifts of our spaces – gifts we think are crucial to this beautiful conversation about a world our hearts believe is possible today.

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A Monarch Migration in March

By Tommy Airey, re-posted from Easy Yolk

On Fat Tuesday, six days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I drove out of Detroit while it was still dark. For the first two hours, the slipped disk in my upper back was screaming. This thorn in my flesh, this messenger from Satan, was signaling a lack of emotional support in a world collapsing with the 4 C’s: capitalism, climate, covid and conflict. I drove through all four time zones as gas prices sky-rocketed and the stealth BA. 2 variant spread. On the road, in this mess, I was trusting in Something greater than myself, a divine Presence percolating the world with steadfast love and solidarity. This Force does not sit on a throne. It hovers low like a nurturing mother bird and runs fast like an open-hearted, emotionally expressive father figure.

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Of Mountain Watches and Dread Help

By Jim Perkinson, a sermon on Transfiguration, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, MI, February 27, 2022

I have developed a late life habit.  When the snow falls around our house, these days, the bird seed comes out.  I am a bit loath to invite too much wild dependence on human provision, so I normally don’t lay out food that way. But given our urban Detroit encampment on the habitat of so many wild creatures, I figure snow may interrupt some of the other foraging possibilities and so sprinkle some seed. The local sparrows and chickadees are quick to spy out the offer and just as quick to spread the word, sparrow style.  But it is especially the cardinal pair whose territory we occupy that I delight in.  For two winters now, when my gift-giving begins, they are adept at the uptake and 2-3 times per day, beginning around noon, will summon me by cavorting in the front bushes outside my second-story study-window.  Once I see, I get up, go down to the front door while they vigil in a front-row, top-of-the-bush seat.  I give a little throw onto the sidewalk from the open door; they hop down and feast.

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