When Nobody Cares About Your Tears

This is the day before Thanksgiving, and I can’t help thinking about the parents of slain children …whose Thanksgiving tables will be sprinkled with tears.

Some of us in this nation are wresting with the shooting death of LaQuan McDonald by a white police officer. I will not lift his name up; he seems not to deserve as much. The video released on LaQuan’s shooting has shaken me to my core. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/25/us/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-shooting-main/)

But I am resonating with the parents of LaQuan, as I have been resonating with the parents of all of the young, unarmed black people who have been shot and killed by police officers, mostly white, and who have not been held accountable.

I began mourning in earnest with these parents and family members when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. When Zimmerman was acquitted, I wept. Sybrina Fulton was a tower of grace and strength, but her heart as a mother had to have been in tatters. Mine was, and Trayvon was not my son.

With every death of black people by police officers, mostly white, where those officers have been let off, my tears have increased. I keep thinking of Rev. Martin Luther King’s sermon where he asked, “How long? Not long!” Dr. King said the arc of the universe was (is) long but it bends toward justice.

The arc is very, very long.

What is bothersome is that only the tears of some people seem to matter. The tears of the Parisians, in reaction to the terror attack, seem to matter, but the tears of the people in Beirut and Africa, where terrorist attacks also took place, the one in Beirut only the day before the Paris debacle,  were not so covered.

It was like their tears…didn’t matter.

It seems that the tears of black and brown people really seem not to matter as much as do the tears of white people.  It feels that way. A parent is a parent; a mother is a mother; a woman who carries a baby goes through the same painful labor no matter her race or ethnicity. Yet …only the tears of the white mothers, the white survivors of terror, seem to matter.

Is that the result of the dehumanization and criminalization of black and brown people? One woman on my Facebook page said it was natural that the coverage of the terror in Paris was as it has been because “those people are people with whom we share values.” Or some such …But her statement floored me. Isn’t the pain of human beings, all human beings, worthy of respect?

Today, the families of so many young black people are mourning, but I am not sure that their tears matter, and that is an issue.

What happens when nobody cares about your tears? Langston Hughes asked what happens to a dream, deferred? There are consequences. Painful and often explosive consequences.

A painful, candid observation

What is an American…Christian, Really?

I am stunned by the rhetoric being spouted against Muslims here in America.

I am stunned that major GOP candidates are leading the pack and I am stunned that American …Christians …are buying into it all.

What is an American Christian, really? I grew up thinking, having been taught, that Americans were the best; we had the best morals, the best values, the best ideas, the best government. I grew up believing, erroneously, it turns out, that America’s very founding documents touted the belief that “all men were created equal.”

I grew up completely immersed in the statement made by our Statue of Liberty, and her words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” I thought it was glorious to have such representations of human rights in my country.

I coupled that with the version of Christianity I was taught: that Jesus was love, that Jesus reached out to “the least of these” and rejected nobody. I cherished this religion which seemed to embrace the notion of a loving God, who was, in the end, non-judgmental, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.

So, my world, my created, fantasy world, was shaken once I began to read about the discrimination, hatred and violence carried out in this country by …American Christians. Where was the belief in the Constitution? What about the words spoken by Jesus in the Bible? It began to seem to be all a sham. White American Christians, too many of them, were too ready to either practice racial hatred against blacks and Jews and whomever else was to be targeted at a given time, and the notion of “all men being created equal,” I read, meant only white men. I read that the ships on which white people brought Africans to the Americas had religious names, including Brotherhood, Integrity, Gift of God, Liberty, and Jesus. (From There is a River, by Vincent Harding, p. 3)

It seemed that even whites who thought such thinking was against Christian principles as stated by Jesus were reluctant to say anything, and so they remained quiet. Racial hatred was OK; God, they suggested, was a white man who wanted America to be a “white man’s country.” Therefore there was no problem, no disconnect, between the way white American Christians treated people of color.

So, the Islamophobic rhetoric we are hearing today ought not be disturbing. American Christians, led in the GOP bid for the presidential nomination, are accepting and embracing the horrid words and suggestions being offered by Presbyterian Donald Trump and Seventh Day Adventist Ben Carson, who says he loves the Bible.

Which Bible?

Because of what happened in Paris, Trump, the Presbyterian is suggesting actions that are reminiscent of Nazi Germany, South Africa …and Palestine. Separate people; brand some as bad, inhuman, unworthy of respect. Do it to protect others.

It is a heinous thought and scary. How many people, innocent people, will suffer from civilized, non-violent terrorism, which is all that Trump is suggesting? This feels like a sort of McCarthyism, all over again. And the supporters of Trump, Carson, Rubio, Christie and Cruz are on board.

When Barack Obama was elected, people said America was “post-racial,” but that was far from being true, and the fact that this anti Islamic rhetoric is rising by the day is evidence of it.

Did God make a mistake? Did God mean for the world to be just white people?  I don’t believe that, but it seems that a vast number of American Christians, white American Christians, believe that. They find no disconnect at all between discriminating against and oppressing people of color, and the dictates set forth by the American Constitution and the Holy Bible.

So, someone tell me. What is an American …Christian, really?  It’s time to stop wading in idealism, and look at our country and its touted religion squarely in the face. Because it seems that what I was taught about both democracy and Christianity …are sorely mistaken.

A candid observation …




Tears of the Ignored

The coverage of the terror attacks which happened in Paris on November 13 has been exhaustive, to say the least. Even today, reporters from major news operations are still on the ground in the beloved city, talking about what happened, humanizing Parisians who are struggling with their grief, and talking about this phenomenon called ISIS. Reports of France bombing Syria as retaliation are coming in; the apparent slip in security of French and Belgian officials is being examined, and the world is, for all intents and purposes, totally involved in what is going on in France.

But the media is doing a disservice to the narrative of pain experienced by those who have been affected by ISIS, for while the reporters are humanizing Parisian victims, and in fact, all of Parisian society, it has blatantly ignored the attack by ISIS that took place in Beirut the day before Paris was hit.

In a separate story, observers have noted that when a college in Kenya was hit by ISIS in April of this year, the story received hardly a blip of coverage. (http://www.inquisitr.com/2565791/kenya-attack-that-left-147-dead-compared-to-paris-attack-news-coverage/)  In that attack, 147 people died, and there were serious injuries.

Yet, the media seemed …and seems…not to care.

The question I am wrestling with this morning is why is it that the tears of people of color minimized? Why don’t our tears matter? I read a response of a person to the criticism of the lack of coverage in Beirut where he said, “It doesn’t matter. These things happen in that country every day.” Even if that is true, does it justify the media ignoring the pain and tears of the victims? Do their tears not count?

The lack of compassionate and objective reporting, favoring the pain of white people over that of people of color is striking. Ebola, for instance, has been a problem for years, yet it wasn’t until white people were infected that the story became big news. Drug addiction has been virtually cast aside as an issue that only affects poor, black people, a crime for which the addicts should be put away, but now that evidence shows that more and more white people are succumbing to drug addiction, and specifically, to heroin use, the reports read that drug addiction is an illness which should be treated.

When Trayvon Martin was killed, the tears and anguish of his parents was ignored. The same was true when Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sam Dubose, Freddy Gray, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell …and so many others, were killed by police. None of these people were armed, and yet they were deemed to be threats to white society and were gunned down. No media really gave the parents of these victims the time of day. Their parents wept the tears of grieving parents, tears which come from a place too deep to even describe, and yet the media ignored them…this, while they show the tears of Parisians who were badly affected by the terrorist attacks in their city on November 13.

The media is failing. Media are supposed to be objective, and yet the media continues to push the narrative of the privileged, while leaving the people deemed to be second-class citizens to fend for themselves, and ignoring their pain. These second-class citizens are dehumanized; they are not seen nor are they heard. Black people, brown people, Muslims…are ignored, cast aside as dross. Yes, the lives of the Parisians who died matter …but so do the lives of these black and brown people matter, as do the lives of Muslims and Palestinians …and all others whom the privileged have cast aside.

There is a song I learned when I was a Girl Scout. It was about the sinking of the Titanic. The second verse went something like this:

We were nearing Greenland’s shores, when the water began to pour, and the rich refused to associate with the poor. So we put them down below, where the water was sure to go. It was sad when the great ship went down, down, down.

It was supposed to be fun song; we sang it on the bus on our way to summer camp, but even as a young girl, these words bothered me, so much so that after a while, I stopped singing it. There it was – the privileged taking it upon themselves to regard their pain and safety at the expense of the underprivileged. It was a testimony to how the privileged think.

I have two children. If either were killed, by police or in street violence, I would be devastated. The tears of black and brown people are bitter and salty just like the tears of white people, and come from the same place of pain. A mother’s grief is not less if she is black, brown, Muslim, Palestinian or a member of any other marginalized group.

I no longer expect the media to be objective. It is at the behest of the powers that be who pay their bills. The tears of the underprivileged, the oppressed, the second-class citizens …simply do not matter.

A candid observation ….




On Radicalism

What happened in Paris on November 13, 2015, was nothing short of horrendous. That any group of people can feel like it’s OK to take innocent people out, for whatever reason, brings anger. That kind of action must come from a deep sense of frustration, from feeling like concerns are not being heard or respected. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction to get someone to listen.

But this whole use of the word “radicalism,” and using it to describe what is going on and connecting it to people who are Muslim, is bothersome. It is setting the table for those who are inclined to look at Islam as “the bad religion” to justify their opinion of that religion and, worse, justify any actions of discrimination and hatred those so inclined to do so might take.

Human beings have a limited capacity to see broadly; we hone in on what we think we are supposed to see and we leave out parts of the entire landscape. Just the other day I participated in an exercise where I was supposed to count how many times people dressed in white passed a basketball. I was completely immersed in my “task.” I got the number of passes thrown correct, but what I missed was a huge gorilla that walked into the middle of the people throwing the basketball! When the video was played again, I was appalled to see that I had missed something so obviously present.

As the world hones in on “Islamic” terrorism, and mentions that those who are carrying out acts of terror are “radicalized” Muslims, I am afraid that we are missing important participants in the entire scenario. Worse, we are forgetting that “radicalized” sorts are part of every religion. Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the KKK, was a radicalized racist who believed that God told him to take out participants in the Civil Rights Movement and to exterminate those who helped work for civil rights. Thus, he felt no compunction in ordering the murders of the three Civil Rights workers, Schwerner, Goodman and Cheney, and felt nothing but a keen sense of having fulfilled his purpose when he murdered Vernon Dahmer, a black man who allowed black people to register to vote in his story. Bowers had people, lots of white people, who  believed that God wanted America to remain white. They were radicalized, yes? Yet, we don’t hear that kind of language describing them, or even describing people who today are proponents of racism in this country.

I am sure that there are “radicalized” Zionists, both Christian and Jewish. Those are the ones who put human rights below what they consider to be the will of God to desecrate a group of people whom they do not like nor understand. We do not label them that way; in fact, when it comes to Zionism and what is going on in Palestine, we have heard language that consistently makes the Palestinians the “bad” people who, by the way, happen to be Muslim, while giving a pass to an Israeli government which allows Palestinian rights to be ignored and withheld, and to Jewish settlers who are on settlements in Palestine which have been deemed to be illegal according to international law. Is the Israeli government “radicalized?” Are Americans who support racism “radicalized?”

I am struggling to understand what is going on, but I am clear on the power of language. To continue to use the word “radicalized” without coming to terms with how “radicalized” religious people, in this country and all over the world, have been a reality of history from time immemorial.

I am sickened by what has gone on in Paris. Some radicalized Muslims, apparently, have carried out a heinous act, but all Muslims have  not been radicalized; all Muslims are not radicalized, bad people, no more than all white Christians are bad and radicalized because of what radical groups like the KKK have done.

A candid observation …

Obama and America’s Race Problem

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last evening that the race problem in America has gotten worse since Barack Obama became president. He is echoing what many have said.

Even though I have some issues with some of what has and has not been done by our president as concerns race, I find myself wondering what people thought his being president was supposed to do. Right after he was elected, people, some who pride themselves on being really intelligent, gushed out that his election meant there was no more racism in this nation. America was “post racial,” they said.

There was a collective sigh of relief. Finally, people seemed to think, we could forget that racism is as much a part of America’s legacy as is its Constitution.

It hit me that America wants racism to just go away without being dealt with. So, I am guessing that when Mr. Obama was elected people thought we didn’t have to talk about “it” anymore. It was over. Americans, black and white, had crossed the Great Racial Divide, and all was well.

Except …it wasn’t. Racism is a disease, a disease which has never been openly dealt with. White people have been on the defense, proclaiming that they “are not racist” and daring anyone to make their truth any less than that. Black people have for the most part just wanted to fit in and be accepted, their race notwithstanding. Neither scenario has helped this nation come face to face with its sordid racist legacy.

I wonder what Christie and others thought was going to happen once Obama became president. The New Jersey governor said that Obama “gave us hope.” True, but as concerns racism, what was the expectation? That all of the pain and misery caused by racism would just fall into the sea? Did Christie and others think that those who grew up thinking and believing that black people were stupid and bad and inferior would somehow just …change their minds? Did they not anticipate that many people, including, it seems, the Congress, would be consumed by their racism and be driven by their resentment that a black man was in the White House?  Did he and others not understand that for many people, Obama’s election was a slap in the face of what they believed America was called to be? That, for them, America was supposed to be a “white man’s country.” Obama’s election for many was almost a mortal sin. They wanted nothing but to see him fail. The Congress, Conservative talk radio, and other American institutions …seethed. They openly respected him. Members of Congress plotted to make him a one-term president. They hated that Obama was out of line, being the head of this nation.

Black people thought that things for them would vastly improve under Obama’s presidency; he was, after all, a black man. He would, of course, have their backs. But Mr. Obama was only the president. His movement as president was sharply controlled by the Congress, in spite of the fact that he managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed. The Congress was not going to tolerate him giving black people special treatment. He couldn’t even make the comment, after Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder, that “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” How innocent a statement is that, and how true? Yet, he was attacked for being “racist” for expressing an honest evaluation of what it means to be black in America.

So, Gov. Christie and others, just how was Obama supposed to handle this issue of racism? Could it be that you think race matters are worse because Obama’s very presence in the White House rubbed the racist nerves of this country in the wrong way, making them come face to face with their prejudices and preconceptions about black people? With a white leader, those nerves are kept at bay, but a black man was just too much for those carrying racist ideologies to handle? Could that be the case? Obama has been pretty silent on the actions of rogue police officers that have resulted in the deaths of way too many black people during his administration, and yet Christie and others say he hasn’t had the backs of the police. Seriously?  Much of the black community has been frustrated because he hasn’t said enough about what is going on …and yet, Christie and others think he has supported the black community at the expense of police officers? Something is wrong with Christie’s analysis.

I wish Christie and others would be specific. What would you have had Mr. Obama do? It’s not really sufficient for you to say that under his presidency race relations are worse. Why do you feel that way? Can you be more specific?

My guess is that they cannot. I think that America’s racist underbelly just has not been able to stand that a black man was the Commander in Chief of America. America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave…white people.

A candid observation …

I wish someone would explain to me what his presidency would have looked like had

The Phenomenon of a Co-Opted Media

I realized this morning as I watched Matt Lauer of the TODAY Show interview GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, more than ever, that the media has been co-opted by the powers that be.

In spite of the horrific phenomenon called mass incarceration, in spite of blatantly racist voter suppression movements in Southern states, in spite of problematic policing that is resulting in way too many black people dying at the hands of police, Lauer didn’t ask Trump a single question about any of it.

I was disappointed. Journalism is supposed to be a profession that looks for and exposes truth. It is supposed to give listeners, viewers and readers a comprehensive, inclusive and honest picture of the world. Instead, “we the people” get what the powers that be want us to get.

Yes, I know that the media have covered the disturbances following questionable deaths at the hands of police. And yes, the media covered the disturbances (some call them riots) in Ferguson and in Baltimore …but that was largely self-serving, because so many people want to see black people looting and fighting because it feeds into their perception that black people are bad and that if black people are dying at the hands of police, they must have done something to deserve it.

But there has been little mention of what is going on in Alabama, as white officials are closing 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama in counties that are primarily black, even as the state has announced that driver’s licenses (the most popular form of picture ID) will be required in order for people to vote in upcoming elections. (http://whnt.com/2015/09/30/alea-announces-driver-license-office-closures-includes-two-in-north-alabama/) There has been some mention, but not much, about mass incarceration, in spite of the fact that this nation incarcerates more people than any other modern nation.

There was little to no coverage on major network and cable stations on the anniversary of the Million Man March, where literally hundreds of thousands of black people, largely men, gathered, with no violence, nothing but a hunger to be in a place to learn how their lives and the conditions in their communities could be made better. Yes, Minister Farrakhan spoke, and though I respect him, I found his some of his comments to be sexist and problematic on several levels, but to not cover that mass gathering of black people was a travesty of journalism.

The questions posed to Trump included immigration and the Second Amendment. Mr. Trump, without providing a single detail, continued to give his pat answers, about how he will make America great again, about how he will build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants from piling into this nation, and make Mexico pay for it, about how we need to honor the Second Amendment – all issues that are issues for swaths of white, Conservative voters for the most part, but not entirely. Matt Lauer pushed some, but could not, or did not, get past Trump’s pat, non-specific answers …and the people in New Hampshire in the audience seemed giddy with approval.

Charles Marsh wrote in his book, God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, that America was then a closed society. He wrote, “People spoke, without blushing, of “Christian” morals – values, families, clubs and society – even of Christian fun and wholesomeness.” The closed society had taken the divine into its own possession; it had brought God under its nervous management.” (p. 146)  He also wrote that white Christians were too often silent on social issues and was “hostile to the Gospel, indeed to Christ himself.” (p. 139) White Christians believed and acted within their belief that church policies were in line with “God’s design for separate races.” (p. 138), and spoke of the “theological bankruptcy of white moderate Christianity. (p. 137) Whites were socialized, writes Marsh, to be “insensitive to black suffering.” (p. 131) More important, he wrote of the conditions in the 60s, (and I would say, even now), was the preservation and continuation of the white way of life, God notwithstanding.

I could not help but go back to Marsh’s words as I listened to the interview of Mr. Trump this morning, Neither he nor any of those people eating pancakes seemed to care an iota about the suffering the black, brown and poor people of this nation are going through. There was not an iota of parents who are crying, schools that are grossly inferior, voting laws that are being pulled back in ways that will again keep black people from voting, nor the mass incarceration which is a trademark of these United States.

The media failed this morning.

A candid observation …


A Kid Pees on the Floor

I keep thinking …that in this country, black and white people grow up so differently.

I remember when I was in elementary school. The black kids were quiet, withdrawn, eager, it seemed, just to stay out of trouble. Our teachers were white. We had better not “embarrass” our parents, many of us were told.

But the white kids …were so free! They talked out loud. They talked to each other. They talked with the teacher, and the teacher, to them. I remember sitting and noticing it, and being perplexed.

Even as students, young students at that, we knew to “stay in our place.” Once, I had to go to the bathroom. Really badly. I raised my hand. My white teacher ignored me. I had seen other kids – white kids – get up if their hands-up had been ignored, and they had not suffered from the wrath of an angry teacher. But I wasn’t white, and I wasn’t about to “get in trouble.”

I kept my hand up. The teacher saw it.  Mrs. Kofender was her name. Mrs. Kofender looked at me and ignored me. She began a math lesson, getting up from her desk where she had been sitting.  When she began to talk, I called out, waving my hand feverishly, “Miss Kofender! Miss Kofender!”

Her face turned red and she glared at me and screamed, “If YOU DON’T WAIT…” I was mortified. Not just because she had yelled at me for nothing …but because by now I had lost the capacity and ability to hold my urine.

I was in the fourth grade.

I peed.

It went on my seat, on the floor, on my socks. In my shoes. I was soaked in urine and my own embarrassment.

The other children giggled. Some laughed out loud. I tried not to cry, but the tears rolled down my face.

“Miss Kofender” looked at me, disgusted.  She walked toward my desk and muttered,”you may go to the bathroom,” as she knelt with paper towels, cleaning up the evidence of my disgrace. As the other kids giggled, she admonished them to be quiet, not on account of me but on account of the fact that she “was not having any fun.”

It was too late. Going to the bathroom now would not make a difference. I sat in her classroom for the rest of the afternoon, wet, smelling, miserable …and demoralized. When the last bell of the day rang, I waited until everyone else left the room so that I wouldn’t have to walk past anyone, stinking.

The only two people left in the room were me and “Miss Kofender.”

I did not look at her. When all of the kids were gone, I left. She said “good-bye, Susan.” I said nothing.

In fact, I never said anything else in her class. I never raised my hand to answer a question, although I always knew the answers. I never said hi to her, or bye. I had to erase her presence from my spirit.

Except she was never erased. Here it is, 60 years later, and I can still feel the pain of that day.

But I can also recall that the white kids never seemed to suffer from that kind of …reluctance …to speak up and speak out and demand to be heard.

Black kids too often are socialized and trained – or at least they were in my days as a kid – to be quiet and be as inconspicuous as possible.

Black and white kids still grow up differently, though. The intrusion of materialism has changed some of the spirit-input of black kids, but for the most part, black kids still seem to peek around the corners and curtains of life, rather than from the center.

Black kids still have to “be careful.” White people still regard black kids as threats, or …whatever else they think.

They love black kids when they are still in utero, but as soon as they come out, they are aliens. Treated as aliens. Ignored like aliens. Given the worst of everything.

Yet, black kids rise from the ashes. Not enough, to be sure, but it is a miracle that any rise at all. Every time I see a commercial with kids on vacations with parents, I think about the fact that so many black kids never leave their neighborhoods, their blocks …So many have never been to a baseball game, or gone to a beach or even been to “the next town over.”

We grow up so differently.

A candid observation …

America Is Not Safe

I have waited to write anything as I have watched the developments in the story of the horrific shooting in Oregon because I had to think.

I had to think, to wonder, what is going on in America, and what I came up with is that America is not safe anymore.

I had been thinking that for a while. I am no longer comfortable going into movie theaters or any public venues, really. When I drive I am really conscious of using my turn signal and watching my speed — which I always did, but with more intentionality now. I think of Sandra Bland, now dead, after she was arrested for <a href=”http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/21/us/texas-sandra-bland-arrest/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>allegedly not using her turn signal</a>. I think of saying things, writing things, to let people know that if I end up dead in someone’s jail cell, that I did not kill myself. I take time to pay attention to the things I warned my son to take note of when he began driving, because I was afraid for him as a black man in America, a young, brilliant, handsome black man in America whose life is never safe here.

America is not safe — not because of international terrorism or ISIS, although ISIS as a force exists. America is not safe — not because of black on black crime. Yes, we in the black community need to be concerned with the destruction of black lives wherever and however it happens, including in our own communities. The one thing GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said that I agree with is that all black lives matter. There is no doubting that the destruction of black lives occurs in black communities.

But that is not why America is not safe. Black people for the most part do not target and kill white people. Black people, most often go after other black people. Back on black crime is not the reason America is not safe. America is not safe because of white on white crime, because of this tendency of mostly young white men, angry with the world, or angry at their circumstances, and definitely angry at the government, think the way to handle their anger is to go into public spaces and just shoot, or kill masses of people in whatever way they can.

I remember thinking how unsafe America was when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I was angry at them for targeting a building with innocent people — including babies — inside. It’s OK to be angry with the government; that is part of being a citizen in a country, but to just bomb a public space, or to just go into a public space and begin randomly shooting, is a punk way to handle the anger. It is a punk way and it is despicable and it is cowardly.

The coverage of the shooting in Oregon has rung hollow for me. Our politicians are more concerned with holding onto an illogical insistence that “common sense gun laws” will keep people from owning guns. Pro-gun advocates insist that more people having guns will reduce gun violence and deaths from gun violence. It is insane and illogical reasoning, borne out of a stubborn resistance to “big government.

The sheriff of Douglas County, John Hanlin, does not believe there should be any kind of gun control and even suggested that in the Sandy Hook situation, where 20 <em>children</em> were left dead, might be a conspiracy. He posted a piece on YouTube after that incident, saying that “there has been a lot of deception surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting.” He suggested that the grieving parents might be “crisis actors.”

This, from a “law enforcement” officer.

There has been much talk about these young men, mostly white, who go into public spaces and gun people down. They are bad people, the experts say. They are mentally ill.

Perhaps. But the point has been made that people who are mentally ill are more likely to kill themselves than others for the most part. And, the case was made by President Obama, that in other modern countries there are just as many young men who are mentally ill, but we don’t hear about them gunning people down like they do here.

Attempts to explain the behavior of the mass shooters have relied as well on profiles, saying they are angry. Lots of people are angry. They don’t mow people down.

No, there’s something else going on. America’s culture is one of violence; the people from the Mayflower came into this new land mowing people down, specifically the Native Americans who were already here. We are a violent society. One of our core American beliefs is that the way to handle anger and to acquire and keep control of others is by and with violence. Cowboys were violent. Those who settled the West were violent. The debate over slavery was handled with a horror called the Civil War.

The answer, actually, to Dr. Martin Luther King’s campaign of non-violence, was violence. White people actually said that his non-violent campaign was inspiring and forcing violence in return.

America, with its core value of violence, is not safe. These young men, staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, are good, wholesome American citizens, with American values.

That’s what’s scary, and it’s at least one reason why America is not safe.

An Uncomfortable Truth

All of us who have followed the scandal of Roman Catholic priests sexually molesting children have been horrified.

We have been horrified at the actual incidences of molestation …but we have also been horrified that the hierarchy of the Church apparently ignored what was going on and kept aberrant priests in the loop – meaning that far too often, these priests were merely transferred from one parish to another once their behavior was discovered or reported.

The late Joe Paterno, the beloved football coach at Penn State, was accused of much the same – ignoring something some say he knew was going on. Jerry Sandusky, who served as an assistant coach to Paterno, was eventually charged and convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of children; he was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation and was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse. After the scandal broke, the beloved Coach Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees of the university. It was assumed or believed that he had known what was going on and simply ignored it, allowing Sandusky to not only keep his job but to keep on doing what he was accused of doing.

The commission of acts that are harmful to people over whom the alleged offenders have power is bad in and of itself, but the continual ignoring of those acts by superiors of those accused offenders, leaving them free to continue their harmful behavior, is just as disturbing. There can be no healing if the truth of what is going on is not acknowledged and the alleged offenders dealt with. At the least, those who abuse their offices ought to resign or be fired. What they should not be allowed to do is to continue in their positions.

Sexual offenses ought not be ignored, and neither should abuses of power as have been demonstrated by some police officers. Far too many unarmed, innocent black, brown and poor people have been beaten and/or killed by police officers – not just since Trayvon Martin, but, in this country, historically, perhaps heightening after the Civil War and during Reconstruction. Even when it has been obvious that police officers have been in the wrong, they have been either found to have used proper force or, if they have gone to trial, they have been acquitted of wrongdoing or given light sentences and …have been let back on the streets.

While sexual abuse of children is particularly heinous, so is the use of excessive and/or deadly force on innocent civilians. The “Blue Wall of Silence” has long protected police officers who are not in control of their emotions, any more than are sexual offenders in control of theirs. At the least, police officers whose actions have clearly been found to be questionable ought to have to go to some kind of treatment and be kept off the streets. Sometimes, the jobs we love to do are not the jobs we can or should do. That would be the case with priests (or others) who sexually abuse children, and that would be the case with police officers who believe that their badges give them an excuse to commit murders or horrific beatings, and know their behavior is sanctioned by law.

It is uncomfortable to think this way, but there is a truth within it which cannot be denied. It is clear that some officers, certainly not all, have some issues which they have not resolved. There is no reason for some of the excessive force situations which by now we have all seen via video. It is insulting that these officers do what they do and are not too worried, because they know they will be protected by their superiors and peers.

Sort of like the priests have been …supported and protected…by their superiors and their peers.

Lawsuits against people in power who abuse their power are a pithy way to deal with institutions which protect their members and continue to release them or reassign them so that they can be free to repeat their behavior. Survivors yes, get money …but far too often, offenders have been allowed to go free and the offenses never stop.

Something is wrong with that.

A candid observation …

The Reality of Two Gods, One Black, One White

I have long been troubled by the way white and black people interpret the same Bible. There is one Bible, one God, one Jesus …and yet white and black people interpret that book in entirely different ways.

Charles Marsh writes, in his book God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights,: “Of the images coming in the civil rights movement, none seems more replete with contradiction than that of white mainline Protestantism. In most cases, the Southern white Protestant adheres to an evangelical belief, the heart of which is the confession of a “personal Lord and Savior,” who has atoned for the sins of humanity. Yet in most cases, the confession remains disconnected from race relations …” (p. 6)  He further writes that “in the final analysis, concern for black suffering has nothing to do with following Jesus.”

The Rev. C.T. Vivian, who was a fixture in the Civil Rights Movement, said outright, “You cannot be racist and be Christian!”, something which I firmly believe. But for white people, that proclamation would draw sharp criticism. Writes Marsh, “If people took seriously their identities as Christians, they had no choice but to also give up the practices of white supremacy – and not only white supremacy, but also class privilege, resentment, the concession to violence, anything that kept one from sacrificing all for the beloved community…”

White people, for the most part, seem uninterested in having, helping form, or living in …a beloved community.

The so-called “attack on Christianity” is coming primarily from white Christians who, while they hate abortion and gay rights, including gay marriage, ignore the reality of racism and white supremacy. They seem incapable of feeling even a modicum of the outrage they feel about aborted violence for the already alive black children living in abject poverty and living on the outskirts of society. They seem disinterested in the fact that already alive children suffer horribly in this nation, from bad schools to inadequate health care. They seem all too willing to blame the children for their lot in life.

And yet they call themselves Christian.

Marsh writes that “white Christian conservatives …(remain) largely indifferent to black suffering, preoccupied instead with evangelism and church growth, and with personal vices like drinking, dancing and heavy petting.” In their religious practice, God, and God’s son Jesus, is all right with their blatant disregard for the plight of people of color.

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. relied on the presence of God for his work in the Civil Rights Movement, white supremacists called upon that same God to justify their actions. Sam Bowers, head of the Ku Klux Klan, saw as his godly mission the need to slaughter black people and those whites who worked for civil rights for black people. In his mind, those who worked for freedom and justice for black people had betrayed the Lord Jesus.  He wrote and posted publicly a manifesto that said outright that “if you are a Christian, American Anglo Saxon, who can understand” the practices of trying to purge the religion and the country of black and brown people, Catholics and Jews, then “you belong in the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi.”  He was dedicated to ridding his beloved America of the impostors who, in his mind, were an affront to God – who, we might assume if we read the scriptures, created us all.

The issue and the problem of this “two-God dilemma” of the United States is that it creates a group of people who are as religiously fanatic in their religious and ideological beliefs as are the hated Islamic radicals. They, too, think they are on assignment from God to destroy Americans. If and when God is in the center of a fight, it is hard to stop that fight before it does irreparable harm.

Of course, having God at the center of a fight can bring about good, too. Ironically, the same zeal that fuels hatred in the name of God fuels the desire for justice and mercy …in the name of God. The results of the Civil Rights Movement is testament to that fact.

Donald Trump is feeding into the “white God” group, a group which is adamant about there being an attack on Christianity, even as they attack radical Islam. It feels like a bomb ready to detonate. The white God, they would say, is on their side, while radical Islamists would say Allah is on their side.

The question for me is and has been for some time, “Why doesn’t the one God step in and stop this foolishness? God’s silence and inaction in shutting down forces of evil and hatred have perplexed me for the longest time. The other issue is, though, that the presence in this country of there being “two Gods, one black, one white” means that racism will never end. The religious fervor which uses God to justify racism and white supremacy is not about to wane. The white God is a God of Empire; the black God is a God of liberation …and those two Gods are never going to meet in the middle and merge into one.

That being the case, I don’t exactly know how we as a nation move forward. White Christians turn a deaf ear and a hardened heart toward the masses of black people who suffer because of white supremacy, while they wage war about the plight og unborn fetuses. Black lives do not matter to them, and really, never have.

And that is a troubling reality.

A candid observation …


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