Kaitlin Curtice 6-01-2018

All over the place in American Christianity, we are asking what is appropriate, what will work and what will not work anymore, how women and people of color are to be treated, what is expected of our male leaders. We are re-wiring things and tearing some things down. We’re making room for a new kind of faith, detaching it from the fear-based faith we were taught as children.

Eboo Patel 5-31-2018

MY OLDEST SON is about to turn 11, which means he is old enough to both recognize and call out the hypocrisies of the adult world. Here are two recent examples:

  • While watching an NBA game, he says that adults are always saying that boys shouldn’t judge girls by their looks, but what else are you supposed to be doing while cheerleaders are doing their moves? And what do cheerleaders have to do with basketball anyway?
  • As my wife and I are singing along to old-school hip-hop in the car, he says that if boys are not supposed to talk about girls’ body parts in ways that make them feel like objects, why is it okay for this guy to sing about liking “big butts”? And why is it okay for us—his parents—to be singing along?

These questions make my wife and me squirm. Generally, we try to face things square on, but on the subject of why we tolerate certain messages in the pop culture that we like, we go mum.

But something in Molly Ringwald’s New Yorker piece this spring about watching her ’80s-era Brat Pack movies with her then 10-year-old daughter made me think more deeply about the whole dynamic. Ringwald writes about how uncomfortable she was being confronted by the racist and sexist themes in those movies. The horribly racist caricature of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. The under-the-table panties scene in The Breakfast Club. The casual ways boys in those movies talked about trading drunk girls as if it were normal.

Da'Shawn Mosley 5-30-2018

MANY PEOPLE TALK about the injustices in the world but do nothing to rectify them. This can’t be said about the following five leaders—pastors, activists, lawyers, businesspeople, and artists—who Sojourners will recognize as “movement honorees” at the June 13-15 Summit 2018. These innovators are doing what Jesus did: taking God’s vision of the world and spurring others toward that ideal. Rev. Brittany Caine-Conley

Rev. Brittany Caine-Conley
“It’s about building a relationship and showing up.”
 
LONG BEFORE Rev. Brittany Caine-Conley entered the nation’s gaze in her work to dismantle white supremacy in Charlottesville, Va., her love for social justice began on a small scale. When Caine-Conley was a child, she watched Rugrats, the animated series on Nickelodeon about toddlers gone rogue. Sometimes, though, she couldn’t make it through episodes of the show due to her anger that the character Angelica “was so mean to the other babies and no one was doing anything about it.

“I learned pretty early about myself,” Caine-Conley told Sojourners, “that the concepts of justice and righteousness were really important concepts to me.”

Cue Aug. 12, 2017. While much of the nation watched from afar the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Caine-Conley encountered the physical threats in person as she protested the white nationalist rally in her city. Caine-Conley and other protesters were shoved by supporters of the Unite the Right rally. And the car that a Nazi sympathizer plowed—apparently on purpose—into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, also injured an affiliate of Congregate Charlottesville, the local faith-based social justice network Caine-Conley, United Church of Christ minister, helped organize.

“It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever experienced,” Caine-Conley said to Vox about seeing the wounded, who were lying in the street in the car’s wake.

And yet Caine-Conley believes it is her duty to be wherever tragedies like this happen—to put herself in harm’s way.

Kathy Khang 4-25-2018
Ongala / Shutterstock

Ongala / Shutterstock

THE CIVIL RIGHTS movement. #BlackLivesMatter. Racial reconciliation. It would be easy for me to imagine the words of Eliza in the musical “Hamilton” and sing, “I’m erasing myself from the narrative.”

At first glance, those statements, movements, and conversations might be mistakenly boiled down to division and brokenness between two Americas—one black, one white.

But I’m neither. I’m “yellow.”

I didn’t choose to erase myself in history, but it’s what I learned. Asian Americans weren’t erased from American history as much as we just didn’t exist in the Plymouth Rock story of East Coast immigration, with its emphasis on Europe’s poor and hungry “huddled masses.” We learned that “assimilation” was as much about becoming “white” as it was about becoming “American.” We learned that the civil rights movement was a fight for equal rights for black Americans, with little connection to “others” like myself. There was no category for someone who looked like me unless it was Oriental, chink, or gook—racial slurs I first heard as a child on suburban playgrounds (and still hear as an adult), slurs tied to a history and wars I knew very little about. In America, race is a social construct divided most simply between black and white.

I also learned that the best I could hope for was to become a model minority, an “honorary white” who would never be considered a “real” American.

So I just didn’t become one. In an act of rebellion, I chose not to become a naturalized U.S. citizen until a few years ago. In the process I learned what it means to opt into a binary conversation with a different, clear, defined perspective. I needed to learn who I was, created as a Korean-American woman carrying God’s image. I needed to learn that Jesus, Mary, Martha, and Esther weren’t blue-eyed or blonde.

Tsehaitu Abye holds up a banner as people demonstrate outside a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 15, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. TWITTER / @JILLIANPHL/via REUTERS

Ross said that as an African-American man he was acutely aware of implicit bias. "We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department," he said.

the Web Editors 3-22-2018

Image via Kevin Cortopassi / Flickr

“It is an atrocity that an unarmed young man was shot at twenty times in his own backyard and shows the urgent need in these times for intervention against police misconduct. We will call for a complete and thorough investigation into this young man’s death," Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. 

David F. Potter 3-16-2018

Image via Heather Wilson

Solidarity Cville, a “community defense network” of multiple local activist groups, is pressing Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney, Joe Platania, to drop all charges against Harris. In addition to holding a vigil outside the police department in the District Courthouse on Thursday evening, the group is preparing a sustained response to Harris’ trial on Friday.

Whitney Parnell 3-15-2018

As a black woman, my confidence is not just perceived as arrogance, but as intimidating and angry. 

the Web Editors 3-13-2018

Image via JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com

Mason found that the magazine virtually ignored people of color in the U.S. until the 1970s who were not laborers and domestic workers, and consistently perpetuated people of color from foreign lands as "exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché."

Arthur Waskow 3-07-2018

The Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, Tenn., where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Pierre Jean Durieu / Shutterstock.com

The deepest roots of The Shalom Center’s work to revitalize the deep connection between the Spirit and social justice were my weaving in 1968 and ’69 a new kind of Passover Seder — the Freedom Seder. My sense of the need to create the Freedom Seder grew from the deep crisis of American democracy in those years. For me, one crucial aspect of that crisis was the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968. It was an act of violence ending the life and disrupting the work of our foremost teacher of nonviolence.

the Web Editors 2-09-2018

Image via Kevin Cortopassi / Flickr

According to court documents, California Highway Patrol (CHP) worked with and expressed sympathy with the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), treating them as victims and attempted to protect their identity.

the Web Editors 2-02-2018

8. What Amazon Does to Poor Cities

Is any new job a good job? As cities scramble to lure Amazon’s HQ2, a look at what the massive influx of warehouse jobs has changed cities.

9. Nearly 9,000 DACA Teachers Face an Uncertain Future

“Maria Rocha, a teacher in San Antonio, Texas, says it's gut wrenching, but she's trying not to show it in front of her third-graders. … It's even harder, she says, because some of her students are also at risk of being deported.”

10. Groundhog Sees Jungian Shadow, Predicts Everlasting Winter of the Soul

“We aren’t sure what was different this year, usually he either calls for six more weeks of winter or an early spring, not unending self-inflicted spiritual torment.” #2018

Jim Wallis 1-31-2018

The State of the Union speech last night reveals a divided nation. In the sharpest contrast, a “Unity Declaration” is being released today by a very broad and diverse group of nearly 80 Christian leaders focusing on the integral connection between racism and poverty — which, for us, are issues of faith we are committed to overcoming together.

Eboo Patel 1-25-2018

BY ABOUT SIXTH grade, a set of kids in the professional middle-class suburb where I grew up stopped doing homework, or really much work at all. They’d goof around in everything from math class to gym period. Getting average grades or being sent to the principal’s office for misbehavior didn’t seem to bother them that much. And their parents seemed to greet it all with a shrug.

It looked like good fun to me, so I figured I’d give this not-giving-a-damn thing a try. My parents greeted my Bart Simpson attitude with something stronger than a shrug.

I remember their fury after a school meeting where the teacher must have explained that my grades had fallen because I spent class time chatting with friends rather than focusing on worksheets. Right before the hammer came down, I attempted a weak protest: “But none of the other kids are doing work in class either,” and ticked off a set of names that my parents knew.

“You are not like them,” came the stern response.

This confused me. I thought I was like them. I played sports and video games, watched MTV and worshipped skateboarder Tony Hawk, just like all the other 12-year-old boys.

“If you are not head-and-shoulders above the next candidate in a hiring process,” my mother sternly said, “they will not give you the job.” She repeated: “You are not like them.”

the Web Editors 1-16-2018

Image via MJZ Photography / Flickr

While long quietly politically engaged, many at the school have taken on a noticeably more public stance toward actions from the Trump administration. 

Jim Wallis 1-13-2018


FILE PHOTO - President Donald Trump addresses a joint news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House. Jan. 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
 

Donald Trump’s hateful words spoken in the Oval Office have been now been heard around the world and may be among the most ugly and harmful words to ever come from the White House of the United States of America. The people of America and around the world have heard that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” The “shithole” countries named were those in Africa, as well as Haiti and El Salvador — places from which he didn’t want more people to come to America. Instead he said he would like more people from “places like Norway.” The message, about the color of skin the people Trump wants and doesn’t want in America, was clear.

the Web Editors 1-05-2018

1. I Wanted to Do a Good Deed. I Talked Myself Out of It Because I Thought of All the Ways I Might Get Killed
“I almost pulled up to the house right then, but I decided to drop off my daughter first. Should something go awry, I do not want my daughter there.
Should something go awry.”

2. How to Survive a Bomb Cyclone
A very practical how-to for those of us on the East Coast.

Lisa Sharon Harper 12-20-2017

TO LOOK AT HIM, you know he’s lived a hard life. With ridges creasing his 27-year-old face, my cousin Shack looked me in the eye during a family gathering and helped me understand how hopeless he feels. The people in his Newark, N.J. neighborhood are being pushed out of their community. The Whole Foods and condos that are moving in are raising the costs of rent and food. The neighborhood’s old guard can’t keep up. This is the case in almost every city across the country. In my own neighborhood—Petworth in Washington, D.C.—I have watched condos rise around me and Starbucks and small bistros move in over the last six years. When I moved here in 2011, taxi drivers and community veterans told me that, until recently, they considered Petworth one of the most dangerous and impoverished neighborhoods in D.C. Gutted by the violent uprising in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the adjacent neighborhood Columbia Heights lay abandoned by city services and industry, and given over to poverty and violence, for more than three decades. When the city decided to develop Columbia Heights, it was only a matter of time before they would do the same to Petworth. “But gentrification is not the problem,” Shack said. “Poverty is the problem.” I heard those words and I wanted to push back. The anti-poverty advocate in me wanted to say, “Get with the program, cuz. Gentrification is the devil.” But Shack had a point, a good one. Obviously, repair and development of the neighborhood isn’t the problem—it’s the displacement of often-poorer people by more affluent people that usually goes with it. These neighborhoods should have been repaired and developed decades ago according to the desires of their homeowners and residents.

Jim Wallis 12-13-2017

Tuesday night was a surprise — a joyful surprise to many of us who have grown accustomed to seeing our country’s immorality find new depths. White racial bigotry lost Tuesday in Alabama. Misogyny, the abuse and mistreatment of women, lost Tuesday in Alabama. And let’s be clear: It was black voter turnout — and black women, in particular, who voted against Judge Roy Moore by 98 percent — that made the difference.

the Web Editors 12-07-2017

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager gestures as he testifies in his murder trial at the Charleston County court in Charleston, South Carolina, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Grace Beahm/Post and Courier/Pool/File Photo

On April 15, 2015, Slager tased and shot Scott five times in the back. A video from witness Feiden Santana surfaced, showing the fatal shooting.