Archives For Blog

3344245_orig

The Lifelines to Healing Campaign stands in solidarity with the Pilgrimage for a Pathway Citizenship as they embark on a 21-day, 285 mile journey, walking on behalf of the 11 million aspiring Americans seeking a pathway in this country.

Pray with us family, that justice will prevail.

Check periodically for updates on this amazing journey!

http://www.pilgrimageforcitizenship.org/the-pilgrims.html

Congressman Jeff Denham, speaking at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Patterson on Friday night, committed to supporting and advancing an earned pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. Friday’s event marked the end of the fifth day of PICO California’s Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship. Congressman Denham’s public commitment came in response to a question asked by Pilgrim Adriana Hernandez, a resident of Patterson. He also agreed to reach out to party leadership and other members of the California delegation to urge a vote on a pathway to citizenship.

NA-BX498_BANTHE_G_20130802190047RICHMOND, Calif.—City officials in this San Francisco suburb passed an ordinance this past week prohibiting city contractors from ever inquiring about many job applicants’ criminal histories.

The move in this city of 100,000 people, which is troubled by crime and high unemployment, is part of a growing national trend that supporters say is designed to improve the community’s employment prospects amid wider incarceration.

Under the ordinance, approved by the City Council in a 6-1 vote and set to take effect in September, private companies that have city contracts and that employ more than nine people won’t be able to ask anything about an applicant’s criminal record; otherwise they would lose their city contracts. The ordinance is one of the nation’s strictest “ban-the-box” laws, which are so called because many job applications contain a box to check if one has a criminal record.

“Once we pay our debt, I think the playing field should be fair,” said Andres Abarra of Richmond, who was released from San Quentin State Prison in 2006 after serving 16 months for selling heroin. Mr. Abarra, 60 years old, said he lost his first job out of prison, at a warehouse, about a month after a temporary agency hired him. The agency ran a background check and “let me go on the spot,” he said. He now works for an advocacy group called Safe Return that campaigned for the ordinance.

Others say the laws potentially endanger both employers and the public. “We have a responsibility to protect our customers, protect other employees and then the company itself” from potential crime, said Kelly Knott, senior director for government relations of the National Retail Federation, an industry group in Washington, D.C., which hasn’t taken a position on ban-the-box laws but has cautioned against federal guidance that could limit how employers use background checks.

Richmond, with a population of about 100,000, joins 51 other municipalities that have passed similar ordinances, many in the past five years. Last year, Newark, N.J., barred private employers and the city government from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal history until they have made a conditional offer of employment, and employers can only take into consideration certain offenses committed within the past five to eight years. Murder, voluntary manslaughter and sex offenses requiring registry can be inquired about no matter how much time has passed.

Ten states also have enacted ban-the-box legislation, according to the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit group that advocates for the laws. Many of those laws don’t apply to job applications for “sensitive” positions, such as those involving work with children.

Michelle Rodriguez, a NELP staff attorney, said tougher sentencing laws in recent decades, particularly for drug crimes, have sent more people to prison, making post-incarceration unemployment a broader problem. “It really could be anybody who has a criminal record now—your co-worker, your neighbor,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “And it doesn’t mean they’re a criminal. It means they had a run-in with the law.”

image

According to a report by the Sentencing Project, a group that promotes changes in prison and sentencing policy, the U.S. prison population rose nearly fivefold between 1980 and 2011.

Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance that doesn’t bar the use of criminal checks but that urges employers to consider the crime, its relation to an applicant’s potential job, and how much time has passed since the conviction. In June, the EEOC sued two large employers, alleging they used criminal background checks in ways that could disproportionately affect African-Americans.

In 2010, one in every 12 black men aged 18-64 in the U.S. was incarcerated, versus one in every 87 white men, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a public-policy nonprofit. Nearly 27% of the population in Richmond is black, according to a 2012 U.S. Census estimate.

In Michigan, where a ban-the-box law has been proposed, the state’s Chamber of Commerce is concerned businesses could face liability lawsuits after hiring ex-convicts if they end up hurting someone, said Wendy Block, a spokeswoman. “We feel the [existing federal] provisions are sufficient in terms of trying to prohibit job discrimination against former felons,” Ms. Block said.

In Richmond, which had an unemployment rate of 11.9% in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city’s Chamber of Commerce didn’t take a position on the measure. But Chamber President and CEO Judith Morgan said the city’s businesses “understand the need here to put people back to work and give people second chances.” Ms. Morgan cautioned, however, that it is “nebulous” how the city will enforce the measure.

The Richmond ordinance also makes exceptions for jobs the city deems “sensitive,” and it allows criminal background checks for positions, like police-department and schoolteacher jobs, for which federal or state law requires them.

Tamisha Walker, a 32-year-old college student who spent six months in prison for arson in 2009, campaigned for the new ordinance and said she hopes it can help Richmond be a place where people believe they can live successfully. She said a lot of people in Richmond want to “get out of Richmond and never come back. And it’s sad, because we lose a lot of talent that way.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.16.29 PMIn the week leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, Lifelines to Healing is embarking on a 15-city national bus tour that will culminate in Washington, D.C. Lifelines to Healing is a campaign of the PICO National Network.

Convened in direct response to the outcry following the unjust killing of Trayvon Martin, the tour will build awareness around the persistent disparities that exist between King’s dream and the realities of being a person of color in 2013.

People of faith will travel across the country training, praying and building a movement to humanize and value the lives of all of God’s children.

Across the country, people of faith are already leading campaigns to create safer communities through sensible gun laws, and other measures to keep youth of color from filling up our jails and prisons, and working to create more educational and employment opportunities in the communities that need those opportunities most.

In 1963, Dr. King called on America to understand the “fierce urgency of now” and challenged the nation to move toward a path of racial justice.  Today, Pastor Michael McBride, who leads Lifelines to Healing, is challenging the nation to truly value black and brown life

Lifelines to Healing Bus Tour

Northeastern Route

Southeastern Route

Midwestern Route

California Route

Boston (8/19)
Hartford/Newtown (8/20)
NYC (8/21)
Philadelphia (8/22)
Baltimore (8/23)
DC (8/23)
Miami (8/19)
Orlando/Sanford (8/20)
Atlanta (8/21)
Durham (8/22)
DC (8/23)
Denver (8/18)
Kansas City (8/19)
Indianapolis (8/20)
Cincinnati (8/21)
Columbus (8/22)
DC (8/23)
Oakland (8/20)
Chowchilla (8/21)
Stockton
Fresno
Los Angeles (8/24)


You can also follow the tour and join the conversation here:
 

 

Becoming Visible

July 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

This op-ed was originally posted @ Huffington Post.

Ralph Ellison Invisible Man

For the first time on record, black Americans headed to the voting booth in 2012 at higher rates than white Americans; yet, even as we flocked to the polls, proving that showing up can make a difference on Election Day, Ralph Ellison’s words ring as true to me today as they did when I first read them in Invisible Man as a 14-year-old boy:

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.

Ralph Ellison wrote those words in 1952, describing the cloak of invisibility that enveloped the black experience, and more specifically our humanity, in America. Here we are in 2013 with a black president, and yet the cloak of invisibility remains.

My politically conservative friends seem blind to the social structures that maintain the cloak of invisibility enabling black suffering, and my progressive friends seem to lack the courage and imagination to place black suffering centrally as a priority in their fights to end gun violence, to achieve gender equality or to reform our broken immigration system. Meanwhile, many of our own churches seem all too preoccupied with so-called culture war fights or hyper-spiritual practices of faith to even notice the massive disinvestment of economic opportunities and stability in our cities and communities.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me that the gun policy conversations or fiscal cliff discussions shouldn’t acknowledge the disproportionate impact that guns, violence, poverty and a whole host of issues have on the black community because by doing so, we might alienate the votes we need to pass laws. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told we need to make sure that the voice and face of any policy campaign — whether that person is a clergy leader or a victim — shouldn’t be too black because then he or she might not appeal to the audience with whom we need to engage to achieve success.

The fact of the matter is that even though black people only make up 13 percent of the population, 49 percent of all murders committed — overwhelmingly committed with a gun — are murders of black people, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow stunningly reveals that at this moment in United States history, more blacks are under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved a decade before the Civil War began, in spite of the truth that blacks are no more likely to sell or possess drugs or commit crime than any other American citizen.

In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Juan Williams notes that the number one cause of death for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34 is being murdered with a gun. Since 1979, when we started collecting national data on the ages of gun violence victims, 44,038 black children have been killed by guns, Williams explains. According to theChildren’s Defense Fund, that’s nearly 13 times more than the total number of black people lynched in the 86 years between 1882 and 1968.

President Obama noted in a January speech in Chicago that in 2012 alone, enough children and youth were lost to gun violence with such volume that it would equal a Newtown tragedy every several months.

And yet, in spite of such visible death and destruction, our politics and many policy conversations are happening as if black invisibility need be maintained in order to achieve the common good, or to get the votes we need, or to reach the audiences to whom we must appeal for success. When shootings or deaths happen in our communities, like the most recent Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans, they are written off as a sad display of black people’s failure to get it right, categorized as street violence, seemingly suggesting that it is the problem solely of local communities, families and individuals to solve.

Is what happens in black communities so inconsequential to the national conversation? Is the black experience of life in America so meaningless to those who live in other places that it does not engender compassion and a response? Are our lives that invaluable? Are they really worth less that white ones? Is the calculus that in order to appeal to the comfort of the dominant culture, we must maintain the status quo of invisibility? Must we hide our young men’s and women’s fights to stay alive and struggles to remain free to achieve the so-called “common good?”

As we enter the next phase of our national policy discussion around guns and public safety, we need the courage to name and embrace the complexities of issues of suffering in this country and to remove this cloak of invisibility. Personal responsibility, social responsibility, cultural responsibility and national responsibility must not be pitted against each other as an “either/or,” but rather discussed as a “both/and.” In the great words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Few are guilty; all our responsible.”

We must allow our black communities — black men and boys, in particular — to become as visible as they were on November 6, 2012, in order to truly build lifelines to healing and to solve the major problems facing our country today.

 

Christian Atheism

July 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

veneer_302Amazing op-ed by Dr. J. Kameron Carter!!!

“Professor Anthea Butler has caught much flack recently for arguing in a post here on RD that the George Zimmerman verdict exposes that a god-complex, tied to and articulated as white supremacy, remains powerfully at work within U.S. society. She’s right, of course. In putting on the table the question of how religion relates to the verdict, how religion has been operative under the radar, so to speak, inside of the verdict, and how religion is the larger horizon of the shooting and subsequent trial, Dr. Butler has done us all a profound service.

But as a theologian or a Christian intellectual, I want to up the ante on her provocative and important analysis and propose that the only moral, ethical, and religious response worth its salt to the Zimmerman verdict is to be atheist.”

Full article can be read: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/7204/christian_atheism__the_only_response_worth_its_salt_to_the_zimmerman_verdict

 

guiltynation618

 

The verdict in the Zimmerman/Martin case has ignited a national conversation on race, humanity, violence and justice.  We are compelled by our faith to proclaim that the value of life among our young men has greatly been diminished.  And people of faith have something to say about it! We are calling on everyone across the country to PREACH, PRAY and ACT to heal our nation. 

This toolkit is designed to give Clergy and Faith Leaders action steps to implement in congregations and communities.

PREACH

Hoody Sabbaths/Holy Days – Lead your congregation from the pulpit in prayer, reflection and worship on designated Hoody Sabbaths/Holy Days.

Shape your pulpit messages around scriptures that allow congregants to understand better the theological implications for the injustice that pervades our community and what God is doing about it. Give a call for action that is grounded in a desire to please God and fulfill God’s plan for a just world.

Preach with young people in mind. Preach about what their faith teaches regarding life and living in accordance to the tenets of their beliefs. Preach hope; let them know that God loves them, believes in them and is preparing a world that will celebrate them.

PRAY

Prayer Circles – Lead your congregation in prayer for our young people, their safety and the blessings of God’s grace and mercy for them, their families and their community.

Organize corporate prayer times within your congregation, your denomination and ministerial community. Center your prayers on God’s call that we act in support of the values central to our faiths – the values of love, life and community wholeness.

Start a prayer chain in your congregation and in the wider community that can unite congregations across faith, denominational, race and place lines. Encourage that we pray for God’s abundant love and peace for our communities and that that love be richly shared on our youth.

Pray for law enforcement and legal community that they hold in their hearts God’s command to always be just and prudent in their dealings with our young people and the communities where they reside.

 

ACT

Public Marches and Night Walks – Lead your congregation in Nightwalks and other organized efforts to move beyond the sanctuary. Take the message of hope to the streets and build a deeper concern for our youth and the sanctity of life.

Register to Vote – This is a movement that must be connected to the larger issue of transforming our country.  LET MY PEOPLE VOTE is a campaign to get us involved in the political process. If there is a PICO federation near you, get involved. Align your congregation with the PICO Network Lifelines To Healing Campaign and LET MY PEOPLE VOTE CAMPAIGNS.

 

Resources for preaching and teaching:

Sample Prayer to end gun violence

Media advisory template

Sample Facebook cover meme

Sample Facebook profile picture

Hoody Sunday 2012 Video Summary

Verdict, Values Op-Ed

Friday Day Walks

July 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Mcbride postANNOUNCING THE FRIDAY DAY WALKS! Since October 2012, we have been leading the Ceasefire night walks every Friday as a body of faith leaders determined to stop the gun violence in Oakland. Starting this Friday, July 12, at 1pm, we will begin day walks in East Oakland to stage another front against violence in our community. Starting this Friday, July 12 at 1pm, we will begin day walks in East Oakland to stage another front against violence in our community.

In the summer months, there are always more people out in the streets and violence historically spikes. As a community of faith leaders, we want to make sure that we are building a culture of peace and healing in the community not just during the nighttime, but all the time.

The meeting spot for the first day walk will be at Union Baptist Church, located at 949 71st Ave.

Day walks will continue every Friday during the summer at different locations. The night walks will continue on Friday as scheduled.

Find out more information and JOIN US >>:http://www.facebook.com/events/607876005912489/ — with Billy G. Dixon JrMartin R. Peters and Damita Davis-Howard.

Independence Day

July 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action and Voting Rights; real life drama in the Trayvon Martin trial and memories of Oscar Grant (being reenacted in the upcoming movie “Fruitvale”)
Welcome to the paradox of being an African American in the greatest country in the world on the day we all celebrate what most people who look like me don’t have.

Independence Day speech at Rochester, 1841, Frederick Douglass

“Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, hy am I called upon to speak here today? What have 1, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am 1, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.”