Archives For Justice

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

 

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.”

941763_10151735479830774_144358321_nSan Joaquin County Supervisor Steve Bestolarides shared a powerful vision for transforming the criminal justice system stating that “I don’t want to focus on building the prison industry. I want to focus in investing in alternatives to incarceration. I want to change the 70% recidivism rate and the idea that incarceration is the only solution.” His motion to withdraw the proposed $80 million jail expansion passed this afternoon. A powerful coalition of faith, labor, community, and civil rights groups has begun to reshape the landscape around public safety in San Joaquin County. Congratulations to PACT-Stockton and their allies for courageous work.

“Building a new jail would possibly build a larger container,” he said. “But if we don’t’ change how we deal with the criminal justice system, we’re just going to fill that one, too.” – Patrick Ikeda

Read More at Recordnet.com http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130605/A_NEWS/306050328 

“Even though he suffered a defeat, he didn’t sound defeated, and we need that kind of hope from the bully pulpit of the White House.” – Pastor Michael McBride of the PICO National Network

(CNN) – During a more than two-hour meeting at the White House on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden asked leaders from across the faith community to keep up pressure on lawmakers to support compromise background check legislation even as Congress begins to shift its focus to immigration reform, according to several attendees who spoke to CNN.

Biden urged the roughly 20 faith leaders in attendance not to be discouraged by recent legislative failures, and instead assured them that the White House had not given up.

Read the whole article here: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/07/biden-urges-faith-leaders-to-pressure-lawmakers-on-background-checks/

 

Standing in a field of more than 3,000 grave makers on the National Mall, Newtown clergy, the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, the Rev. Michael McBride of PICO National Network and others will begin a 24-hour vigil in the shadow of Capitol Hill at 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 11. The clergy will call on Congress to vote on the gun violence prevention legislation expected soon on the floor of the Senate.

“More than 3,300 people have died as a result of gun violence since the tragedy in Newtown, and it’s past time for our leaders to act,” said the Rev. Michael McBride, director of PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing campaign. “We have stepped down from our pulpits and left our houses of worship to remind Congress we’re not going anywhere, until they pass meaningful legislation that bans assault weapons and high capacity magazines, institutes enforceable universal background checks, ends gun trafficking, prosecutes straw purchasers, and invests in proven strategies reduce the gun violence that plagues our cities every day.”

The vigil, sponsored by the PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing campaign and Sojourners, comes ahead of expected Senate votes on the assault weapons ban, universal background checks, prosecution of straw purchasers and school safety legislation. Volunteers will begin setting up the vigil at 6:00 a.m. EDT on April 11. The staging and the vigil are both open to media and coverage is welcome. Video, photo and interview opportunities will be available.

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The Church Must Be The Conscience of the State Martin Luther King Jr

Another set of shootings in Oakland, one by police of an unarmed teenager… another murdered last night by an unknown assailant. Unacceptable and outrageous!!! #nonviolence #lifelinestohealing