The Common Good

Blog Posts By Leroy Barber

Posted by Leroy Barber 9 weeks 1 day ago
There are so many people that have gone before me, people that have sacrificed their lives in pursuit of justice and equality. Because of this, I feel a deep sense of commitment to honor them by standing for some of the same things that they did. I am in complete awe of two things that connect deeply for me. The first is the cross and how Jesus gave his life for us all. The second is my ancestors who somehow understood Jesus’ sacrifice and passed it onto me through intense persecution.I can’t say that I know persecution like my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents knew. I have been back to southern Alabama many times for family reunions and visited slave graveyards where relatives are buried. This compels me to be and do more with my life. I can’t say I understand why Jesus would choose to become human, walk this earth as a human being, and then die at the hands of his own creations to save those who were crucifying him. However, I do know it pushes me to be and do more with my life. I feel like I would let them down somehow if I didn’t take responsibility for addressing injustice with my life.My life is not my own. I am the product of sacrifice. I am here because of those who saw beyond themselves and thought personal sacrifice was worth giving up to allow justice to take hold. I am here because Jesus modeled something completely illogical on the cross and then some of my ancestors took that example seriously and repeated it. I have no real right to the life I live. My only recourse is to continue the tradition handed to me in the same way.
Posted by Leroy Barber 22 weeks 4 days ago
In football, if the defensive players have no fear of your going long, they stack up against you and the shorter plays become incredibly hard and frustrating. It's as if the defense can predict what you're going to do and outnumber you.    Many people live their lives, and some nonprofits run their organizations, this way —never going for the long ball. 
Posted by Leroy Barber, Margot Starbuck 40 weeks 14 hours ago
Howard Thurman says three things, in Jesus and the Disinherited: One — God is on the side of the oppressed and the poor. Know that God is on your side. Two — Dishonesty takes you out of the conversation. And if you live an honest life, if you have integrity, you can sit at the table. In areas of race, people look for holes in your character as excuses for you not to be at the table. Three — Hate is useless. Don’t let hate sink into your soul, because hate will destroy you. And respond with love even if it’s hard. So I try to teach my boys that, and raise them that way.
Posted by Leroy Barber 40 weeks 4 days ago
No stones were thrown, even though these leaders thought they had the law on their side. Not one stone was thrown. Jesus turned the moment from pious religious rules to self awareness of grace, and each person with a stone dropped it and walked away. I think maybe because they realized life is all grace. Then that grace standing in front of this woman is given to her. The system failed, but life was given.
Posted by Leroy Barber 44 weeks 4 days ago
For as long as I can remember, Father’s Day has been a challenge for me. You see, like many other children I know, I have deep painful scars when it comes to the topic of fatherhood. My dad really hurt me the day he left — which, quite frankly, was one of the lesser hurts he caused to my mom, in my opinion. Physical abuse, infidelity, gambling away our meals: the list goes on and on. I put this out there not because these things in my life are unresolved or unforgiven, but to open up a conversation.Unfortunately my story is way too common these days, and I am a bit tired of its demon-like possession of black children and families.
Posted by Leroy Barber 48 weeks 4 days ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 51 weeks 1 day ago
Last year, 506 murders happened in the city of Chicago — the majority of them in black communities. Similar rates of violence swept through places like Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., New Orleans, and the list could go on and on. I have in my life begun to declare myself a pacifist. I have made this change because I think, as a black man, the only recourse for me is to try and stop violence that happens in so many black communities. Turning the other cheek, responding with a gentle answer, forgiving a misunderstanding: these are the paths to recovery in my neighborhood. The “if someone hits you, hit them back” mentality is destroying black men at an alarming rate. Dads, teach your boys to talk it over, look the other way, or keep walking when things begin to escalate. 
Posted by Leroy Barber 1 year 11 weeks ago
I recently heard that the state of New Jersey plans to evict the Camden Children's Garden from its 14-year-old home. I don't know if you know much about Camden, N.J., but it's one of the cities in our country that wrestles with a myriad of social issues. There are a number of incredible people there that work tirelessly to improve the living and social conditions. Mission Year has spent a number of years living and working beside neighbors and friends in this city. The people there are very committed to things like improving housing, education, and tackling food desert issues, and they have very little resources with which to work.
Posted by Leroy Barber 1 year 37 weeks ago
Does anybody else feel this weight?I woke up this morning in tears. I don’t know why today is different, but I do know the weight is for my brothers and sisters who are in pain.I imagined what the night was like for folks in my neighborhood who had to fend off threats last night.I imagine the young girl in a car — against her will or against her first choice — with the guy named John, and I lament for her soul.I imagine the young guy standing out all night selling death so he can have a little life — whether it’s in the form of food, dignity or just to feel like he is meeting some need, somehow.I imagine the mom lying in the bed next to someone she would rather not touch, but because he pays the bills for her kids to eat and sleep, she puts up with his abuse and doesn’t say anything about the other woman he also lies with around the corner.
Posted by Leroy Barber 2 years 23 weeks ago
I made myself read the Grand Jury report about Sandusky's alleged crimes and it was 23 pages of vile and inhuman behavior not only by the predator but by those who actually saw it, heard of it, or received reports about it across their desk. Then to also learn that all these children were black deepens my sadness. I am forced to ask some really hard questions.Are black people that expendable?Was the fact that they were black, poor and powerless the reason it was overlooked?Is football, a school, and personal reputation so important that a 10-year-old black boy being raped in a bathroom can be covered up? I had an idea that power was corrupt, but this is much more than simply corrupt. It is pure evil.
Posted by Leroy Barber 2 years 43 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 3 years 22 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 3 years 41 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 4 years 20 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 4 years 43 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 5 years 8 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 5 years 13 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 5 years 24 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 5 years 30 weeks ago
Posted by Leroy Barber 5 years 34 weeks ago
I have been watching the Democratic National Convention this week, and I think when Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech tonight it is going to be an important historic moment. This is not to tell you who to vote for. That's up to you. But I can't help but anticipate watching a person of color stand in the place he will tonight. I don't advocate voting for him (or not) because he is a black man, but it sure is encouraging to see history unfold. The amount of anguish that comes with [...]