Christina Colón is Assistant Web Editor at Sojourners. She joined the web staff after serving as an editorial assistant of Sojourners magazine from 2017-2018. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Centre College and a Certificate in Editing from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
It was Roald Dahl’s Matilda, given to her at the youthful age of 6, that fueled Christina’s passion for justice and storytelling. Since then, she has designed educational study guides for the American Shakespeare Center, authored a book with the children of The Cabbage Patch Settlement House, and served as an ambassador of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. In her current role, she works to weave quantitative and qualitative data into meaningful stories (and tweets).
A Florida native, Christina enjoys sunshine and iced tea. When not at her computer, Christina can be found listening to a podcast, reading in a local park, or making scrambled eggs. You can follow Christina on Twitter @CJaneColon.
Posts By This Author
New Study Puts Hurricane Maria Death Count at Nearly 3,000
A recent study reveals that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. The researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health adjusted for various factors, including the some 241,000 residents who were displaced from the island. In the end, the number of deaths that could be directly or indirectly attributed to Hurricane Maria was reported at an estimated 2,975 - a number that stands in stark contrast to the previously reported 64.
Trump's Clean Energy Plan Replacement a 'Death Sentence' for Thousands, Say Faith Leaders
The Trump administration’s proposed replacement, known as the Affordable Clean Energy proposal or “ACE,” would grant individual states more flexibility in how to regulate and reduce emissions. According to the EPA Fact Sheet, it would also “promote investments to make coal plants cleaner, modern, and more efficient.”
A Holy Response to Urban Violence
Bio: Bill Terry is rector of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans. In 2007, he started to list the names of individuals recently murdered in the city on a board outside of the church’s building. The church sees the “murder board” as a public memorial, a way to humanize victims of urban violence.
1. What inspired the murder board? When we talk about murder in the United States, we tend to talk in terms of numbers. Cities talk in terms of a murder rate, which is dehumanizing. We thought we would start listing the names of murder victims rather than numbers. We used to have the names printed, but the printers couldn’t keep up, so we started writing them down. We list the names, the age, and whether the individual was shot or stabbed. That has a visceral impact and, in and of itself, tells a story. There’s nothing glorious about it. It’s a holy site, and people have a holy response to it. Through the board, we began to humanize the deep loss in our city.
2. What impact does the board have? It’s hard to be a Republican or a Democrat when looking at the murder board. It’s hard to be accusing and making aspersions against a race, community, or economic class. More than 2,000 names are on that board alone. They are [people murdered] from 2007 to 2012 in a city of less than 500,000. And during that period, our population got as low as 350,000. I had a police officer who came here and noticed the permanent memorial. He asked if it was all the murders in the state, and I said no, it’s [murders] in New Orleans. He was shocked. Then he went over and started reading the board from left to right. He spent about 20 minutes just slowly walking along the board. He walked back to me, very quiet, tears in his eyes. He said, “I counted three guys I went to high school with. I had no idea, Father.” Then he quietly walked away. That’s the transformative power of our public exhibition.
THE #METOO movement against sexual assault and harassment has empowered many people in the workplace to speak out. But there’s one group still fighting to be heard: interns—the semi-skilled students and recent graduates seeking supervised practical experience in a profession and who form the backbone of many government, nonprofit, and religious organizations.
In March, Vox caused an uproar when it released copies of a nondisclosure agreement required of all congressional interns. Notably missing was an “exception for incidents of harassment, discrimination, or abuse.” The Washington Post reported that interns who came forward about sexual harassment in California, Oregon, Nebraska, and Massachusetts all had their cases dismissed, “leaving them in legal limbo.”
The absence of legal workplace protection is only one reason interns are dissuaded from reporting harassment. A second is lack of power. Internships are generally temporary and unpaid. Interns fall in a hierarchical gray area that leaves them particularly susceptible to exploitation and harassment.
In a USA Today commentary headlined “Dear interns, we’re sorry. We should have warned you about sexual harassment,” Jill Geisler of Loyola University Chicago wrote: “We’ve learned that workplace sexual misconduct is about abuse of power. And those with the least power are the most vulnerable.”
The Bible is full of cries to protect the vulnerable. It warns against seeking power over others. Yet Anglican Bishop Peter B. Price notes that “abuse of power is one of the greatest temptations for Christian leaders”—the consequence of which is not just scandal, “but the loss of a unique corporate authority, achieved by mutual self-giving.”
Q&A: Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb On Justice, Church, and Making Music
Ramirez: I think like what you said, it's taking the side of the broken, the beaten, and the defeated. It’s knowing that when you say, “You just gotta lift yourself up by the bootstraps,” that not everybody has boots to be lifted up by. Justice looks like that. It looks like taking the side of the one being accused, the one being pummeled, not even just today, but throughout history because there are whole people groups who have been pummeled. Justice looks like giving people a taste of a true Jesus. Jesus would go to the woman at the well even if all of culture said not to, even if people looked down on him, even if it might have been bad for his reputation, that’s what he did. So often we like to tell good stories and take pictures of refugees and orphans somewhere else, but we very much like to ignore the causes that we should be fighting for here. For me, that's what justice looks like.
Families Belong Together
In Their Own Words: Voices from D.C.'s Families Belong Together March
Tens of thousands gathered in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., Saturday to call for an end to family separation. Braving a scorching 95-degree heat, people had come from all over the country to attend the Families Belong Together event. Organizers had three demands for President Trump: Reunite families, end family detention, and reverse the “zero tolerance” policy.
'Pa'lante' Is an Ode to Puerto Rico's Future
“Pa’lante is a very Puerto Rican mindset,” Kristian Mercado Figueroa, who directed the music video, said. “Be it a family struggling to stay together, or recovering from the hurricane, the Puerto Rican people are strong and they will always stand and move forward.”
The Poor People's Campaign Is 'a Re-Consecration, Not a Commemoration'
“Today is Mother’s Day,” Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said to the crowd. “A holiday established by women with a rich history of activism and resistance, who called for an end to violence and won. Standing in our nation’s capital, I have a question for our country: Is denying healthcare to mothers and their children a way to show love to mothers?"
Writing a Soundtrack of Reconciliation
ON A TUESDAY EVENING in February, the band called Urban Doxology rehearses for an upcoming performance in Richmond, Va. They jump from song to song without sheet music or a printed set list.
“We who believe in freedom cannot rest,” they sing. “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
The group’s founder, David Bailey, watches. Dressed in a pink button-down shirt and a brown fedora, Bailey moves about the rehearsal space adjusting sound levels and giving occasional feedback.
Ten years ago, Bailey was leading music at a church in the suburbs when he and his wife felt called to join a budding multiethnic, economically diverse worshiping community in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond’s East End, where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775.
Over time, the community grew into a church, East End Fellowship. It found a home in the Robinson Theater, a brightly colored community arts center named after Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a Richmond native and tap dancer.
Committed to the work of reconciliation, Bailey began leading cultural competency trainings less than four miles from Monument Avenue, a divided street peppered with statues of confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. Grounded in theology and history, the training provided members with a shared knowledge and language to talk about race. However, Bailey sensed it wasn’t enough.
He noticed the lack of leadership development for people of color going into vocational ministry. He had also grown wary of the available worship music repertoire. “It was like you either had old-school gospel or we had retuned hymns,” he said. East End Fellowship needed more leaders and new songs, ones that better reflected its growing multicultural congregation.
Bailey devised a single solution for the two challenges: a summer internship program dubbed the Urban Doxology Songwriting Internship. “We started the internship so we could develop the kind of leaders we wanted to see as people of color,” Bailey said. “But also so we could create the kind of culture and language for worship that shapes the imagination and deals with the pastoral concerns of the people in the community.”
In 2011, East End Fellowship welcomed its first class of diverse young musicians to Church Hill.