UUs…We Don’t Need Another “National Conversation On Race”

So the Commission on Social Witness announced that one of the four proposed Congregational Study/Action Issues that will be voted on at General Assembly in June is “A National Conversation On Race”.

oh Sweet Creole Jesus! Not again!

Listen up my white liberal friends. America needs another “national conversation on race” about as much as the country needs to start another military conflict in the Near East. What America needs to have is a conversation about WHITE SUPREMACY.

American religious groups (including liberal ones, and especially Unitarianism and Universalism) need to have a conversation about how they, for most of their history in this country, have propped up WHITE SUPREMACY. American religious groups need to have a conversation about how they going to use their theologies in order to dismantle WHITE SUPREMACY.

Having a “national conversation on race” continues to place the onus of change on those have been oppressed by state power and does nothing about the system of WHITE SUPREMACY that will stay in place after that national conversation is over.

One last thing….please, for the love of God and all that is holy, do not post comments/email me/call me/text me/etc. saying that race is more than black and white or that race is a social construct. I am so done with that white liberal/progressive bullsh*t that I don’t know how to tell you how tired of it I am.  So just don’t.

Flint Is Being Lead Poisoned. Has the UUA Reached Out to the UUs In Flint?

A man-made disaster is occurring in Flint, Michigan. The people of that city are being lead poisoned because of a decision made to switch where Flint got its water from. Because of that decision, the people of Flint have to get drinking water in a catch-as-catch-can way.

I criticize UUA public statements quite often. I won’t do that here. No…I am going to be much more critical of UUA action.

If there is anything that a religious people who are named after two Christian theologies should be doing it’s using some of its money to get fresh water to the people of Flint. The UUA should be calling out other religious groups to get them to use some of their money to get fresh water to the people of Flint. The UUA and other religious groups should be calling for a coordinated national response to get the people of Flint fresh water.

God is calling us, people. Time to answer that call.

Flint is being lead poisoned. What sayeth the UUA?

What Black People Were Told Today–Holy Innocents Day (#BlackLivesMatter)

Just a few minutes ago, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty announced the Grand Jury’s no-true-bill in the case of Tamir Rice.

Today is also Holy Innocents Day on the liturgical calendar.

Well…black America got told again today…you are NEVER innocent.

Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Black people are being killed by agents of the state at an alarming rate. And time and again we are told that it is our own fault; that we are never worthy of protection under the law. We are never holy innocents.

So listen up my liberal religious friends. Do NOT talk about “now is the time to heal.” Do NOT weep white tears and tell black people that you are just heartbroken by all of this. Just don’t.

13 months ago Tamir Rice was minding his own business playing in a park. But, because he was black, he is now dead. And the state took his life away then turned around and said that nobody was responsible.

What a message for Holy Innocents Day.

Stop Saying “the arc of the universe bends towards justice” (#BlackLivesMatter)

So, tonight, the grand jury looking into the Sandra Bland case has decided that there will be no major charges against  anybody who works for the jail. (there are still some minor charges they are looking at) That is just the latest display in the showing of how much black lives don’t matter.

UUs and other social justice activists love to say the MLK Jr. bastardization of Theodore Parker’s quote, “the arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.” I am going to make a simple request…STOP!

For the longest time I have made the caveat when I make this request, “unless you are going to do the full, original Parker quote, don’t say it,” but as of tonight, that caveat no longer holds. Really, I beg of you, just don’t say it.

It has now become just another meaningless platitude said to those who are oppressed to get them to continue taking it in the chin in the vain hope that, in the end, something resembling justice might appear. It is said not to actually move things forward, but to make the person saying it feel better.  It’s time to stop.

Sandra Bland should be alive today. She should be working at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M. She should be thinking about how she was going to get home to Chicago for Christmas.

Do not tell me that the arc of the universe bends towards justice. It might for some. But it hasn’t for Sandra Bland. Or Tamir Rice (nearing 400 days and still nothing). Or the 5 women who Daniel Holtzclaw raped and brutalized (how many of you know about that case?) but don’t seem to have been believed. Or Rekia Boyd. Or the lead poisoned children of Flint, Michigan. The arc of the universe might bend towards  justice for some. But it hasn’t for them and so many others; too many to name.

So until black lives matter, stop saying that the arc of the universe bends towards justice. Until then, those are empty words, meaning nothing.

When You’re The Only Black Person In A UU Church And The Topic Of The Day Is #BlackLivesMatter

So…I’m in one of the cities that I frequently come to. And when I’m in town, I go to one particular UU church. Yesterday was no different.

I had no idea what the sermon was going to be about when I walked in the door. This has its good and bad points.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the Order of Service was that all the music is by black musicians/composers. And I know all but one. Bright spot!

Then I see that the reading for the day is by Ta-Nehisi Coates. As a member of the Horde, TNC always works for me.

Then comes that awkward moment when, looking around the sanctuary as the service starts, you notice that you are the only black person in the room (and one of four people of color in the room). And the subject for the sermon is going to be about #BlackLivesMatter. Well…………..

The sermon was ok. Not great, not bad. Ok. But I’ve come to realize, in the past year-and-a-half, that there aren’t that many UU ministers I could really trust with a sermon about race. I can count them on both my hands and have a few fingers leftover.

Anyway….what struck me was what happened after the service. Aside from the sideways looks (the ones that made me want to scream “No, I didn’t come today because the subject was Black Lives Matter”), it was the people who acted like they had never seen me in the congregation before. I’ve been roundabout this congregation for 10+ years, so unless they showed up in the congregation since my last trip here a few months ago, they’ve seen my face. I am not a new entity here. And yet. And yet.

There were a group of us sitting around during coffee hour talking. I think a couple of people joined us because two of the people in this small group were people of color and thought we were talking about the sermon. We mentioned it in passing, but the majority of our conversation was about the area where I went to graduate school and where I did my internship. And when we made our move to not join in the discussion group that was going to talk about the sermon, people seemed to be really put out by the fact that we weren’t staying.

Something is going on in UU churches, and I’m not sure congregations are ready for it. And people of color are going to be hurt in the process.

How are UU congregations supporting people of color in their midst during this time of learning for the majority of white UUs?

(yes, I know the question has been asked before, but it continues to bear repeating)

In Praise of Black Teachers…or Why Integration May Not Have Been Such A Good Thing (#BlackLivesMatter)

With the start of school for most, I’m in a nostalgic mood about school–which means I need to find another one to get into.

I am who (and where) I am because of one teacher, Mary Gaines, my fourth grade teacher. Momma (yes, I have two mothers, but neither are lesbian) is the reason I went to college. Momma is the reason I wasn’t tracked into the non-college prep track in middle and high school, which would have happened even though most of the time I test well. And yes, this happened because Momma is black. For as long as I’ve thought about it, I do wonder if a white teacher would have gone to the mat the same way that Momma did.

I say all of this because I’m getting ready to say something not politically correct; separate-but-equal schools may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Research has shown time and again that white teachers treat children of color (especially black children) differently and have lower expectations for/of them. And we know that school discipline policies are applied more harshly to children of color. So maybe we need to rethink this integration thing, at least with young children of color.

Black teachers matter to black children. And if this is correct–most teachers—over 80 percent—are white, and surveys suggest that won’t change anytime soon. Among the ACT-tested graduates in 2014 who said they planned on pursuing an education major, 72 percent were white, compared to 56 percent of all tested students–the next generation of black children will be discarded in the same way the last generation-and-a-half of black children have been.

White supremacy is killing us, in more ways than one. Whether it’s scared white teachers and School Resource Officers (did you see the tape that came out of Covington, KY?) or the beat cop or the rest of the criminal justice system, black children are in danger. The easiest and best way to equip them to handle the outside world that is set on killing them, whether psychically or physically, (and not hoping on white people changing anytime soon) is to put them in all-black (or mostly black) schools with black teachers. Yet that might be a challenge because just 23 percent of Chicago’s public-school teachers are black, down from 40 percent in 2000. If that’s the situation in Chicago, then imagine what the black teacher shortage is elsewhere.

The school-to-prison pipeline is real. So is the death-by-school pipeline. In order to go after one, we have to go after the other.  And one way to do that is to have separate-but-equal schools. [if one looks at the most recent numbers, schools are segregated more now than they were in the 1960s. taking that as a given, let’s work on ways to make those minority-majority schools equal.]

*here ends the not politically correct post*

[articles that talk about the research are here and here]

 

When Terror, Not Just Fear, Is All You Can Feel (Theology in the Aftermath of the Death of Sandra Bland)

 

Shall we sit with these tweets for a moment

A 7-year-old is terrified that she won’t be able to save her mother in the situation of her mother having an encounter with the police. And in the reverse (what we usually talk about), her mother is terrified that she won’t be able to protect her daughter in the situation that the daughter having an encounter with the police (and after McKinney, that terror is even more present).

ok my liberal religious friends….what’s our theology that stands up in the face of continuing trauma and stress? [we might get to the “post” in PTSD, but that’s not happening anytime soon]

Don’t give me the usual platitudes. Tell me how you are dealing with those in your midst that are living this every day.

When talking about #BlackLivesMatter, how ofter do you mention the women whose lives have been taken by an agent of the state? [there’s a new name to that list…Ralkina Jones]

7-year-olds are worried about how to protect their mothers in encounters with police. Mothers are worried about how to keep their children alive in case they encounter the police.

Liberal religion better have a response to this otherwise it will irrelevant in the “new” religious landscape.

#IfIDieInPoliceCustody

I’ve been trying to write what I feel about the case of Sandra Bland and in all honesty, I’m just exhausted. And mute.

There really are no words. (actually, there are a lot of words, but none of them are really appropriate for me to say until I am no longer pissed-off instead of just angry)

So…..if I die in police custody….there are 3 things I ask for….

1. Please make sure that my parents are ok–physically. And make sure they stay that way.

2. Stop Rosemary from killing somebody.

3. Know that whatever the police tell you about my mental state, it is only going to be part of the story. There is no way I would give law enforcement the satisfaction of taking my own life with them anywhere near around me.

 

Langston Hughes asked the question, “what happens to a dream deferred?” With all that’s happened in the past year, maybe the question be, “was there ever a dream?”

Taking Down the Confederate Flag and the ‘Charleston 9’ Families Forgiving That Racist Terrorist Are NOT the Same Types of Grace

Peter Boullata wrote an amazing post a few days ago about the families of the Charleston 9 and their act of forgiving the racist terrorist who killed their family members. Go. Read it. Now. But I’ve been very struck by how the conversation around taking down the Confederate flag and how South Carolina legislators are connecting these things.

Time and again, some South Carolina legislator (and the Governor) would say that the impetus for them to take the flag down and off of the capitol grounds was the families forgiving the racist terrorist; not the deaths of the Charleston 9 themselves (lest we forget that Rev. Pinckney’s casket had to process under that flag twice, and it–unlike the American and South Carolina state flags–was never lowered to half-staff) .

It makes me wonder what would have happened if the families of the Charleston 9 hadn’t forgiven the racist terrorist as fast as they did. Would the flag be coming down?

Taking down the Confederate flag is NOT the same type of grace that was shown by the families of the Charleston 9. And points to yet another example of African Americans being expected to show an extraordinary amount of compassion over outrageous acts and getting very little in return.

Don’t get me wrong…I am truly glad that the Confederate flag is coming down from the South Carolina capitol grounds. But let’s get this straight; it should have never been there in the first place. It was placed on the capitol dome as an act of defiance during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. So to me this is not an act of grace. Or if it is, it is very cheap grace. And if you listened to the debate in the South Carolina House yesterday, it was gruelling and ugly.

At some point, the U.S. is going to have to recon with slavery the way that Germany has to (and continues to) recon with Nazism. Does it have the ability to do that? I don’t know.

I do know that what happened yesterday (and today) in South Carolina in no way compares to what the families of the Charleston 9 did. And that line of thinking needs to stop.