The Rev. Traci C. Blackmon is Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ. She leads the denomination’s Justice and Local Church Ministries and pastors Christ The King UCC in Florissant, Mo. She is an Auburn Senior Fellow.

Posts By This Author

Do You Live Near the Toxic 100?

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

A report today released by the United Church of Christ identifies the nation’s “Toxic 100” super polluters, naming the factories and facilities responsible for nearly half the toxic air emissions in hundreds of neighborhoods across 28 states. Alongside the report, Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution, the UCC provides an interactive map, because they believe parents have the right know where these polluters operate. Like toxic water, toxic air is irreversibly harming children across our nation.

Trump's Wall Is a False God

One of the prototypes of a border wall in Otay County, U.S., photographed through the border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 3, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Leaders want to spend billions, not to help people living in desperation, but on the wall. We must ask ourselves, and our elected leaders, what are the true costs when we allow ourselves to be consumed by fear? Are we willing to put the wall ahead of the God of mercy who came to us as a child fleeing violence? Thousands of God’s children remain in the squalor of tent cities in Tijuana and detention centers, unwelcome in Mexico and the United States. Some are returning to violence at home having lost any hope for asylum they are legally entitled to request.

The Blood Did It: Why Michael Brown's Death Was Different

by Traci D. Blackmon 09-12-2014
Demonstration in New York on Aug. 14. a katz /

Demonstration in New York on Aug. 14. a katz /

One month ago, the city of Ferguson, Mo., was violently shaken by the shooting death of an unarmed black man whose name is Michael Brown, Jr.

This is not the first time we’ve stood in this place. Michael Brown has been added to the roll call of unarmed black people killed by those hired to protect and to serve. His name joins the names of:

John Crawford , an unarmed Ohio man gunned down inside of a Walmart while examining a toy gun sold in the store.

Eric Garner , an unarmed New York man killed, after stating several times that he was having difficulty breathing, by an officer using an illegal choke hold.

Sean Bell , an unarmed New York man shot multiple times outside of the venue for his bachelor party the night before his wedding.

Oscar Grant , an unarmed Oakland man who was handcuffed, face down, before he was fatally shot.

And so many more black lives, both male and female, ended by the reflexes of a legal system designed to police some and protect others.

So why did the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. ignite such a firestorm of rage in a region and a nation where slain black bodies are commonplace?

This is not one of those neighborhoods that cause political analysts to pontificate over “how something so tragic could happen here.”

These are not deaths that leave communities and congregations struggling to find deeper meaning and psychological factors that might have contributed to the tragic loss of life.

As a matter of fact, since the death of Michael Brown, there have been two killings of black men with documented mental challenges, Ezell Ford of Los Angeles and Kajieme Powell, killed only a few miles from the site of Michael Brown’s death. Yet there have been no roundtable discussions of the role of mental illness in our society sparked by these deaths.

What made Michael Brown’s death different?