I think we might be failing at our main job – failing at the one thing we were created to do – the one thing we can do best for each other – the job of showing up, of being there, the job of compassion.

It’s a strong accusation, I know. And there will be at least three responses. Maybe more.

How did this happen?! we will say.  And we will worry because nobody likes to think we’ve failed. And this worry will generate action. Energy will be expended trying to figure out what happened and how to fix it. Activities will be designed to improve the score which will eventually mitigate our worry. This will at least allow us to get on with our lives. Until we fail again. And then we’ll worry again. We will worry ourselves into such a fixing frenzy that we simply won’t be have the energy to do our main job.

Not me! we will protest. We will ferociously protest this accusation of failure because we want to believe the best about ourselves. Of course we’re ready to help! It goes without saying that we are always ready to lend a listening ear! We can cite dozens of examples of dozens of times we’ve worked a caring moment into our schedule. We haven’t failed – we’ve simply redesigned the job description to better suit the kind of crazy busy lives we live now.

It’s THEIR fault! we will whisper and point the finger. Fingerpointing helps because if it’s true that our main job as human beings is to be there, then there must be some really good reason why we find it impossible to do our job.  And it really doesn’t have anything to do with us. It’s them. THEY were prickly. THEY were self-centered. THEY were mean, cranky, bossy, troublesome, SOMETHING. THEY made it impossible for us to succeed at the one thing we were created to do.

That’s enough. We can’t go on like this. Some things have to change. Some bodies have to change.  As unrelenting waves of sadness wash over this planet, mercilessly eroding hope, we’re the only ones who can break the perpetual cycle of uncertainty and suspicion. Instead of expecting that at any moment we will be betrayed, abandoned, or simply ignored – even though it happened – even though it is happening – we have to take a risk.  We have to take a risk and do the job we were made to do.

And things will change. It will all change.

Michael Brown. Ferguson.

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is a partial reblog from the important By Their Strange Fruit blog. You can read about their mission here: http://bytheirstrangefruit.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html

The post is a work in progress which attempts to aggregate the events related to Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO and then provide thoughtful and challenging questions which require us all to examine ourselves.

The criminalization of black bodies plays into this.
This is reflected in fact that Michael Brown can be on trial for his own murder. That the surveillance videos can be used to imply that his murder was justified. White mass murderers can be arrested, but a black boy will be shot on sight for walking in the street. Black victims will have their criminal records examined, their academic grades questioned, their parental upbringing challenged. It requires overcoming tremendous odds to prove to public opinion that a black victim should not have been killed.

Earlier this month, John Crawford III was killed while holding a toy gun in a Walmart in Ohio (an open carry state). He called out “it’s not real,” but it didn’t matter. Meantime, white folk walk through Target with real assault rifles. And can you imagine what would happen if the protestors in Ferguson showed up like these guys? The double standard is extreme. And it’s costing lives. The media and police can’t (won’t) different between black/Brown bodies and this peacefully protesting. Will you?

White media bias plays into this.
Newsrooms are overwhelmingly white. Given well-established white undereducation about race, what makes us think they are qualified to cover these stories? Many are quick to suggest a black reporter might be biased. That itself reveals our own prejudice. Because dominant society considers a white perspective to be a ‘default’ and neutral stance, half the story is missing.

Social media is often deemed untrustworthy, but this how most of the videos, images, and evidence is coming from. When mainstream media went home, or was turned away, online is where we heard what was going on. These platforms allowed individuals to get the word out, by providing access and amplification of Black voices.

History plays into this.
All of this has happened before. The immediate reaction of the police to use riot gear and German Shepherds demonstrates the gross and callous insensitivity of the Ferguson police. And it has all been explained before (see Tupac Shakur and Malcolm X–the latter’s example played out again almost exactly in Ferguson in 2009). When Civil Rights history is glossed over in white schools and white society, the result is an uninformed, uncontextualized view of current events. We perpetuate the same violence we have been committing against Black neighborhoods for decades. This is the context. It’s this sort of police behavior that Black citizens of #Ferguson have dealt w 4 yrs. And then Brown was murdered

White silence plays into this.
If your family, community, or church has not consistently done the works of discussing and dismantling systems of racism, do not be shocked when events like these occur or when white churches stay silent. How many white onlookers felt Brown’s murder was being blown out of proportion? How many saw the protests as an overreaction? After so many calls ‘to wait for the facts,’ from sources white folks could ‘trust’ (read: non-black sources), it turned out the facts were even worse than we feared. The more we hear the worse it gets. And in the meantime the citizens of Ferguson have been struggling on their own.

Drew Hart reminds us (through Dietrich Bonhoeffer) that “the church was mute when it should have cried out, because the blood of the innocent cried out to heaven.” Instead of sanctimoniously saying “wait, wait” (as the white clergy did in Birmingham), listen to the lived experiences of black folk that tell us the reality of the world in which we live.

Read more here: By Their Strange Fruit

Debra Avery:

This is the Christ I follow: Jesus as revolutionary and organizer of a movement.

Originally posted on The ReBoot:

The murder of young Michael Brown has grieved and enraged an entire community. Many of them took to the streets in response. Peaceful prayer vigils and protests were met with armed policemen, tanks, and tear gas. Riots began to break out. The response has only gotten worse.

As Christians, we are often urged to denounce such demonstrations. This is due to Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek.” Jesus is presented as meek and mild, friendly and full of compassion. And while this is not inaccurate, a vital Gospel account brings this notion concerning Jesus into question. Near the end of his life, Jesus enters into the sacred Temple in Jerusalem.[1] He proceeds to chase people out, block anyone else from bringing anything else into the temple, and flipped over the moneychangers’[2] tables. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus cites scripture to explain his actions. He declares that…

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