racial justice

Racism Is a Faith Issue

Several hundred activists gathered in Union Square in New York City for a candlelight vigil in memory of Sandra Bland on Dec. 30.  a katz / Shutterstock.com

To put this in a religious context: overcoming the divisions of race has been central to the church since its beginning, and the dynamic diversity of the body of Christ is one of the most powerful forces in the global church. Our Christian faith stands fundamentally opposed to racism in all its forms, which contradict the good news of the gospel. The ultimate answer to the question of race is our identity as children of God, which we so easily forget applies to all of us. And the political and economic problems of race are ultimately rooted in a theological problem. The churches have too often “baptized” us into our racial divisions, instead of understanding how our authentic baptism unites us above and beyond our racial identities.

Do we believe what we say about the unity of “the body of Christ” or not? 

Solitary Confinement Makes Mass Incarceration More Problematic

State officials in New York are reforming their policy of keeping people convicted of non-violent offenses in solitary confinement. Some hail the decision; others, including corrections officers, object, saying that solitary confinement is necessary to maintain control, and they say that keeping an individual in solitary confinement is not inhumane.

Tell that, though, to innocent people in prison, wrongly convicted, who find themselves in solitary confinement without hope of ever getting out.

Grieving the Past Before Beginning a New Year

New York City march on the anniversary of Tamir Rice's death. a katz / Shutterstock.com

Black people’s humanity is still at question in the stories so many of us hear and tell in America. For many with a badge, a gun, and the legal shield of the state, black men and women — even black children — are not humans. Instead black bodies are threats and targets for rage, fear, and racially justified execution. When an officer of the law exterminates on the spot, we must ask ourselves what he was shooting. In his mind, Tamir could not have been a boy. He could not have been human. What did he see? And who bewitched him (and us) to “see things” when we are entirely sober?

#NotOneDime on Black Friday ... Or At Least, $1 Billion Less

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving known for shopping, has become a rallying point for #BlackLivesMatter activists, not just retailers looking for a holidays bump in sales.

After the non-indictment decision in Ferguson, Rahiel Tesfamariam of Urban Cusp created the #NotOneDime boycott campaign, that “calls for a cease on all non-essential shopping from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and reclaiming Black Friday as a national day of action and service,” according to the campaign’s website.

When Time Magazine announced that Black Friday sales fell $1 billion this year, many on Twitter called it a victory for #NotOneDime.

For the Families With an Empty Seat at the Table

Screen shot of dashcam video

An 80s song told us “video killed the radio star.” The music was catchy and referred to the varied attitudes we all had about technology. What is this? What would we do now? Fast-forward 35 years, and videos are the very technology for which we are so thankful.

Video changes everything.

When the Chicago Police Department released the dash-cam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by one of their own, the city braced for disruption. When we learned of the $5 million settlement to the McDonald family that stipulated the video remain confidential, the city braced for disruption. When residents discovered that footage from a nearby security camera had been deleted by Chicago police, the city braced for disruption. Mayor Emanuel and his team had seen the video, and were afraid of the public reaction.

The Conversation on Race in America Is About to Take a New Turn

Screenshot from trailer for 'Shining a Light'/A+E

After the shooting that left nine members of Emanuel AME Church dead on June 17, an employee at A+E Networks asked, “Can’t we do something?”

Tonight, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, and many other musicians will provide an answer. In partnership with United Way and iHeartRadio, A + E Networks is hosting “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America.”

This is more than just another benefit concert.

“This is going to invent a hybrid, a new form,” the famous producer and director Ken Ehrlich said.

The Power of Protest at Mizzou

Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia. Adapated image via Adam Procter/Flickr

We have witnessed a remarkable series of events on the Columbia, Mo., campus of the University of Missouri this week. The university president and the chancellor of the Columbia campus resigned Nov. 9 in response to protests claiming that university leadership had failed to appropriately address and respond to a toxic racial climate on campus.

The recent racist incidents, which many students and faculty felt the administration had failed to confront, reveal a stunning lack of empathy for students of color at the university. They include: racial slurs hurled at a black student body president and a black student organization, and a swastika painted in human feces on the wall of a residence hall.

But these specific incidents merely allowed a long-simmering stew of disrespect, verbal attacks, and marginalization of students of color to come boiling to the surface.

The Columbia campus of the University of Missouri is only a two-hour drive from Ferguson, Mo. When Michael Brown was shot in August 2014, protesters took to the streets of Ferguson every night, and student activists from Mizzou were among them. They saw what standing up to entrenched institutional racism looked like, and they saw that victories could be won with non-violent protest.

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