Category Archives: Blackness

All Lives Don’t Matter

allhousesmatterIt is a trending hash tag. #Alllivesdidntmatter is the new response to persons who have quipped “All lives matter” to the Black Lives Matter movement and message.  It is a national conversation on race being played out on social media.

The hash tag serves as a frustrating reminder as it seems that there are those who still believe “the lies their teacher told them.”  We all should know America’s history: the near annihilation of the people indigenous to what is now the United States, the kidnap, rape and enslavement of millions of Africans, the lynching of thousands of African American men, women and children because “they fit the description” (some of whom were dismembered, set on fire, photographed for postcards, their body parts sold and kept as souvenirs), the interment of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II, segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, the racial profiling of Africans (Remember Amadou Diallo.) and African Americans, the religious profiling of Muslims, the immigration debate and Donald Trump’s great wall.  This is exhausting.

Part of the reason why I am able to proclaim a race-less gospel is because of the revelation of Holy Scripture that I have been inspired by.  But, the other part is knowing the facts about race and its progeny.  Obviously, there are many more that are not far enough along in this process.  The vision must tarry while we take a trip down memory lane, especially when persons like Tomi Lahren, a cable news host, tweet that the Black Lives Matter movement is the new KKK.

So now African Americans are terrorizing people?  It seems that we are handing out fear these days.  “And you’re a terrorist.  And you’re a terrorist.  And you’re a terrorist.”  But, I digress.

#Alllivesdidntmatter has served as a kind of historical litany and a lament with hundreds of years of verses.  If we drop our defenses and are not concerned about who is looking, we will sing along.  We know that it is true so there is no need to feign ignorance or laryngitis.  All together now!

#Alllivesdidntmatter is better said all lives don’t matter.  When it comes to abortion, the criminal justice system, society’s gender roles, the victims of rape, the homeless and so on, we know that it’s true.  And as is the case for race, all lives don’t matter because the social construct was not invented to make us equal.

“All Souls Matter”

greg drumwright souls matter

The Southern Baptist Convention is being accused of racial bias in its evangelism and outreach efforts.  The members of the Black Lives Matter movement bumped heads with the group at the Nov. 16-18 gathering of the Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative.  Protestors chanted “All souls matter” to point out an alleged lack of diversity at the meeting.  To read more, click here.

Trayvon Martin: Blackness and Halloween Costumes

Trayvon Martin.  Most Americans know his name and the story of his death.  But, now his name is strangely associated with Halloween.  Apparently, some persons think that it is acceptable to dress like a dead child and in blackface, no less.  I cannot even begin to describe the callousness of those who think it good fun to mock the tragic death of another and to suggest that one can represent a socially colored black person by painting their face black.

Rants on social media simply don’t cut it and a law can’t fix this.  Another conference will not make sense of it.  This is a matter for the heart and it is at the core of our humanity.  We must reconcile these truths, these choices to deeply offend.

And I don’t want to hear, “It wasn’t me.”  Or, “This was their poor decision.  We can’t blame everyone.”  No, I do blame all of  us.  What have we done or left unsaid if this is a choice?  What are we really afraid of?  And why does the taking of this child’s life not invoke fear in all of us?

And I don’t want to hear that Halloween has passed, that it’s old news now, that the matter is finished because the Facebook account has been closed and he has changed his profile picture.  This does not mean that the work is finished– because we don’t see it any more.  No.

And don’t let the fact that Trayvon Martin died three years ago imply that what happened to him is in the past.  Clearly, it is not; his life and his death now made present in the form of a costume.

Raven McGill offers words for us to reflect on at a National Poetry Slam.

 

 

Race-less and Proud

“Say it loud.  ‘I’m black and I’m proud.'”

~ James Brown

It was 1968 and James Brown was the conductor of a chorus who sang about black pride, empowerment and self- reliance.  It was a call and response of black power.  And timidity was not appropriate; instead, persons were encouraged to “say it loud.”

In so doing, Brown was saying to listeners of the song that they not apologize for their socially colored black skin.  Long a mark of shame, Brown removes the insult and the injury of the word.  To be black was to be proud.

These black people were not going to accept a life of shame; their being would  be celebrated.  The argument could have been: You can’t change it so learn to love it and sing its praise.

More than 40 years later, the response to racism and the hatred of socially colored black skin continues to be met with the same pride and defiance.  Persons will not be shamed into silence; they continue to “Say it loud. ‘I’m black and I’m proud.'”

While I am for a healthy sense of self and appreciation, I find describing one’s love of self using someone else’s hateful depiction problematic.  And in case you’re wondering, the use of the N- word as a greeting or description of a human being is equaling troubling.  Taking a description given to degrade and making it the definition of one’s existence seems counter-intuitive and counter- productive.

Some take pride in prejudices and stereotypes but I take pride in the name of God who is without prejudice and whose actions cannot be stereotyped (Psalm 20.7).  I am race-less and proud.  Say it loud…

The Blues of Blackness

“Death and life and in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

~ Proverb 18.21, NRSV

I am always last but never first,

always down and out, never up and over,

always angry– it comes with being black,

always defending but never safe.

I am born to follow orders but never to give them,

the obvious problem but never the solution,

the question that is impossible to answer.

“Why am I even here?”

I am the renter never the owner,

the borrower never the lender,

‘the help’ who is never assisted,

the victim always needing salvation and a hero.

I am always ugly and never beautiful,

flawed and failing,

not quite right and in need of correction,

the enemy, the beast, the monster– the stuff of nightmares,

check under your beds and in the closet.

I am dirty, unclean,

untouchable, an objectionable thing,

full of disease and empty of cures.

And there is no cure for being black.

I am always present but never seen except in cases of criminality;

then, I look like him and her, fitting the description

or was bound to do something wrong anyway.

I am arrested in so many ways.

I am the lawless never the law,

the bad apple, rotten fruit, spoiled humanity,

always guilty and never innocent.

I am the anathema of creation;

my God doesn’t even like me.

He doesn’t talk to me or answer my prayers.

And I suppose that He won’t like this song… because it is the blues.

We must be mindful of the confessions that we make about our lives; how many of us have sang the blues when it comes to our existence and as a result, have eaten its fruit?