I believe pulpits are supposed to change communities and nations — and history. They are supposed to raise up preachers and their congregations to stand and speak and act for biblical justice. I have been very blessed on this tour for my new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by preaching and being in many of those pulpits that are changing things yet again.
I think there is a very real need for us to grapple with an idolatry of justice. As technology affords us both an instantaneous and relentless awareness of myriad justice causes, and the often-illusory perception of our capability to effect change, it becomes very easy to puff up our justice egos and enlarge our savior complex. Pragmatism and good ol’ work ethic drives us to advance our movements by documenting success, hitting program goals, and mining visible storytelling of dramatic life changes of the people we rescue.
April 4, 2018 — two years from now — will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
April 4, 2017 — one year from now — will be the 50th anniversary of his speech to Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam, at Riverside Church in New York. There he warned us of the “deadly triplets” of racism, militarism, and materialism that were endangering America. (And still are.)
Imagine what it would look like for a diverse mosaic of justice movements to stand together to oppose white supremacy.
Imagine what it would look like for our spirituality to be infused with a longing for repair and restoration of what centuries of racial division have broken.
Imagine what it would look like for a room full of business leaders, local pastors, grassroots organizers, and artists to discuss real answers to deep problems.
That’s the vision for The Summit 2016. And we need your help to make it happen.
WE ARE A baseball family, with our two boys playing on many teams over the years with multiracial teammates, coaches, and leadership in the organizations shaping those programs. I have long been a Little League baseball coach, and my wife, Joy, has been commissioner at every level too.
In baseball, talent and teamwork are the metrics and measuring sticks, not the race of one’s teammates. For both of my boys, their teammates are their closest friends.
Being a Little League coach (for 11 years and 22 seasons!) has given me a place to reflect on our nation’s racial issues. Playing baseball brings you closer together. My son Luke often says his high school teammates are the best friends he’s ever had, and at every level of Little League, my players always testify in our final team meeting of the season how they have become such close friends. Being teammates really does help overcome racial bias and prejudice, because it is the issue of proximity that finally helps human beings understand one another and learn empathy. On Little League teams we are all cheering for one another, looking out for one another, picking one another up when we fall down or make a mistake, and learning to be positive as we work together for our common goals.
One of the best things to watch over the course of a season is how, across racial lines, the parents of players become friends as well. It is especially interesting to see how the conversation topics develop over time, moving from “just baseball” to school and future, to work and family, to sharing of life experiences, and even to national events, which sometimes includes race. What becomes clear is that we all care more about our children and their future than anything else, and beginning to talk about our kids’ futures together can be a very powerful moment.
Racism is being incited and condoned, and now violence is being incited and condoned. So we will need to bring what Archbishop Desmond Tutu once called “a spirituality of transformation.” I remember when he preached that message from the pulpit of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I had the blessing of preaching from that same pulpit this past Sunday, and I wanted to share the sermon I preached with you.
Just before Hollywood’s most glamorous — and this year, controversial — night of the year, a new study shows just why the Oscars are so monochrome. This is the first-ever exhaustive analysis of film, television, and digital streaming services for issues of diversity and inclusion. Conducted by Stacy L. Smith of the Media, Diversity & Social Change [MDSC] Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the study reveals how exclusive of women, people of color, and the LGBT community those platforms are.
In the next few decades, a fundamental change will occur in the United States. By the year 2045, the majority of U.S. citizens will be descended from African, Asian, and Latin American ancestors, according to the U.S. Census Bureau projections. For the first time in its 240-year history, America will no longer be a white majority nation. Rather, we will have become a majority of minorities — with no one race being in the majority. The United States will be no longer a dominant white nation but a multiracial nation, which will make the assumptions of white privilege increasingly less assumed.
Isn’t it time we stopped assuming every security guard, every pilot, and every lawyer on a screen should be a man? What if Hispanic women got parts other than being someone’s nanny or housekeeper? What if black women won Oscars for playing substantial characters, rather than for playing slaves, maids, or poor urban mothers?
The white power structures were offended, so they fought back. Fox News interviewed Rudy Giuliani about the halftime show. The interview is a textbook case in America’s 400-year history of silencing black voices. The segment shows four white people critiquing Beyoncé’s performance and the black lives matter movement. They lectured Beyoncé on her performance. One commentator said, “In the end we find out that Beyoncé dressed up in a tribute to the Black Panthers, (the dancers) went to a Malcom X formation, and the song, the lyrics, which I couldn’t make out a syllable, were basically telling cops to stop shooting blacks!”
Here is what Pope Francis said to the world in his Lenten message:
“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
Instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, the pope seems to want us to give up our indifference to others.
When I began writing my latest book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, my hope was to help foster that new conversation on race in America — and to point to the action that needs to come from it. Because only when we openly and truthfully speak to the roots of racism and inequality in our country — white supremacy, white privilege, and the dehumanization and devaluation of black lives and bodies — will we able to deal with the modern-day realities of that legacy and solve the obvious problems before us in racialized policing and the blatant racial disparities in our criminal justice, education, and economic systems. So we launched a “town meeting” tour that creates space for the voices of diverse local leaders in each city and allows for the multiracial, truth-telling conversations and actions we so urgently need across this country. I’m happy to say that tour has started, and it has been powerful to see and hear.
Our lawyers have made a strong case this week that the voter ID component of this legislation places an unnecessary and undue burden on voters — especially poor and African-American voters. We will ultimately win this fight in the courts. But this case is about much more than defeating voter ID laws. It is about a central question of 21st-century American politics: is a multiethnic democracy possible?
We had a good first week with America’s Original Sin. I wanted to share with you and many other friends along the way of our ongoing tour my favorite interview of the week. It was on Morning Joe. I was delighted to see that some genius producer there had invited Eddie Glaude, the Chair of the Center for African American studies with an endowed chair at Princeton to join the discussion. Eddie had been on Morning Joe the week before to promote his new book, Democracy in Black, which I am reading right now. The dialogue we had on the show was both exciting and encouraging, at least from both of our perspectives!
Trump held his audience spellbound for the first part of his message, which included a reference to Jesus turning over the voter registration tables in the temple, but then he invoked a scripture from the second book of Corinthians. “Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame.”
As a black, same-gender loving woman, who is a pastor, Bishop and activist, I can solidly say that my wife, children, grandchildren, and community have stronger allies, greater opportunities, and more protections than we have ever had. This is in many ways attributable to a growing number of black clergy who are no longer willing to stand idly by and watch large segments of the communities they were called to serve alienated, stripped of rights, physically abused, and treated unjustly. They have taken the costly stand against the notion that LGBTQ people are unworthy of God’s love and full acceptance within the church.
Often I wonder, what is it about me that puts me at the table? I love my x chromosomes and femininity; being a woman is an amazing thing! But in these circles, they seem to come with a cost. No, I’ve not been barred from sitting at the leadership table, but am I only here because I don’t have two other things I longed for – a husband/partner to share life with and children to love and care for and call my own.
The best way to change that old talk that black parents have with their children is to start a new talk between white and black parents. These conversations will make people uncomfortable, and they should. White parents should ask their black friends who are parents whether they have had “the talk” with their children. What did they say? What did their children say? How did it feel for them to have that conversation with their children? What’s it like not to be able to trust law enforcement in your own community?
Most polls don’t matter much. But this one does. A recent Public Religion Research Institute survey has revealed a devastating truth: While about 80 percent of black Christians believe police-involved killings — like the ones that killed Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and so many more — are part of a larger pattern of police treatment of African Americans, around 70 percent of white Christians believe the opposite … that they are simply isolated incidents.