They Struck a Rock

MeeksBy Catherine Meeks, originally published in Hospitality, the official newsletter of the Open Door Community

“When you strike a woman, you strike upon a rock, a rock that will not break,” said the Zulu/Xhosa women who protested the implementation of pass laws in Pretoria, South Africa. This is a truth that men such as Mitch McConnell, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Spicer and others are nding to be true. Though we might feel that women are un- der siege as in no other time, that would be far from the truth. Women have never had their rightful place in this land or in many others, though there are small corners of the world such as some West African villages and among some Native American communities where the roles of women were highly valued and the archetypal feminine was seen as important.

A few weeks ago, I was red from my ten-year-long columnist position with the Telegraph in Macon because the publisher did not like the tone of my truth telling. After all, a woman, and a Black one at that, needs to make sure to be pleasing. He was upset be- cause the Alt-Right folks in Trump’s administration were criticized in my column and he seems to have taken it personally. Prior to my ring, McConnell silenced Elizabeth Warren and had the audacity to be shocked when she kept talking for a while in spite of his efforts. In addition to these incidents is O’Reilly’s comment about not being able to pay attention to Maxine Waters’ speech because of her “James Brown hair.” Sean Spicer added to the litany by telling April Bryan, a reporter asking a question that he did not like and did not bother to answer, to “stop shaking your head.” All of these reject the notion that women should be pleasing to males and not speak or act in ways that are unsettling or threatening to them. Continue reading

Reclaiming Hope Through Remembering

meeksBy Catherine Meeks, originally published in the January 2017 edition of Hospitality, the newsletter of Atlanta’s Open Door Community

Without memory, our existence would be bar- ren and opaque, like a prison cell into which no light penetrates; like a tomb which rejects the living. … If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity. For me, hope without memory is like memory without hope.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta took a bold step forward on October 22, 2016, kicking off a three-year cycle of pilgrimages to Georgia martyrdom sites, more commonly known as lynching sites. These pilgrimages are being organized by the Beloved Com- munity: Commission for Dismantling Rac- ism, whose members believe that these sites need to be viewed as places where martyrs were made. And all of us, whites and people of color, who make up the generations of their descendants need to acknowledge these martyrs and mark the places where their lives were sacri ced so that we can make more progress in moving toward the day when this legacy of terror will be vanished forever and hope can have the opportunity to break fully into the dawn.  Click HERE to read the full piece (page 2 of Hospitality).

The Last Thing We Need

Catherine MeeksFrom Catherine Meeks at the Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries Kinsler Institute, during a Q&A after her presentation, “Facing History with Courage,” on the history of lynching in the context of the continuing legacy of white supremacy, February 17, 2016 (photo: Tim Nafziger):

White people need to learn how to have real conversations with other white people. Don’t spend a second feeling guilty. It is a wasted emotion and it doesn’t serve anybody. Those of us who have lived at the foot of oppression, the last thing we need is white guilt. It just takes up your energy. Don’t choose to feel guilty. Choose to act.