Hey Dylann,

imageHey Dylann,

Its been a while. Its been a while since we last saw you out in full view. 1968 to be exact. You’ve been kind of hiding in corners and shadows since then…yeah, its been a while.

I wanted to let you know that since you were last here, there’ve been some changes. You see, the last time you stood in full view you really pissed us off and, well, things might play out a little differently than you may be expecting. There are a lot of people who look just like you who are downright sick over being associated with you. They look like the people you go to church with, the people in your family…the people you trust. But they aren’t you. They’ve woken up to the fact that there is no basis for hating because of the color of someone’s skin and at every turn they are determined to change what happens next. Sure, they struggle with hearing about everything you did in the past, genocide, slavery, rape…because like you, that is the history they are associated with. Unlike you, that history causes them agony; unlike you the only way forward they see is to write a new narrative. They are willing to look at all the ugly you represent and say loud and clear, “I am not that! I will not be that!” More importantly, they are willing to act on what they believe and frankly, they want to see you dead.

Another thing that has changed? All those folks who don’t look like you have now put themselves in positions of power so that when you’re looking up at a jury or a judge, there’s a good chance you will be looking in the eyes of someone who looks like the 9 innocent people you killed this week…or the people you set dogs and hoses on in 1965 or the men you lynched and castrated before that or the immigrants you abused to death at the turn of the century or the Native People you burned and raped when you arrived on their land. In fact, the highest attorney in our country is now someone who, 165 years ago, you might have taken to the woods and used. What a shame that you didn’t realize that every time she gave birth to one of your bastard children and every time you excluded those children from your family/club because of a silly “one drop” mentality, they went off and became part of an army of people who now hold your very existence in their hands.

Yes, Dylann, its been a long time since we’ve seen you in plain view. We knew you were there, just as you had been there for all those years before. But you know what, this time, we’re ready for you…we’re all ready for you and that, my friend, means there’s no escape.

– The People

Update: the following is a link to a Huff Post article that claims to have a “manifesto” from Dylann Roof : READ HERE

Praying Aloud

IMG_0262Last night I attended a vigil for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and I was reminded of the power in praying aloud.  After passionate testimony from some of the clergy gathered, Rev. Leslie White of Bethel AME Church in San Diego, instructed the crowd of more than 100 to join together in small prayer circles and lift up our voices in prayer.  He indicated that it would be a song of overlapping voices and that it would be beautiful, but I had no idea how right he would be.

There were people gathered there who were of many faiths and many racial backgrounds including many from First UU San Diego; certainly there were poor and well off in the room, those of differing abilities, LGBT folks, people of all ages…it was a moment of solidarity that I have not experienced before.  And we all prayed.  We prayed to Jesus, Allah, spirit of life, merciful God, the heavens, to each other, for the dead…everyone had a unique way of praying.  It was, yes, incredibly beautiful.

But it was a reminder to me of the drastic difference between silent and audible prayer.  Silent prayer is beautiful as well.  It helps us access our inner life and journey and helps us to feel whole and directed.  But praying aloud, particularly with others, is  a public declaration and it is one way that we are able to drown out the sounds of evil in the world.

Sounds like:

“he is suffering from mental illness”

“he has no previous offenses”

“he almost didn’t do it”

“access to guns is to blame”

“the pastor not being armed is the problem”

We are all being called at this moment in time to pray aloud…in whatever way we can.  We must pray so loud that there is no other sound heard but the sound of the overwhelming love into which we are born; a love that will not excuse, tolerate or listen to acts motivated by racial hatred. Pray aloud in the 400 year old face of victimization of black people by whites.  Pray aloud in the face of assumptions about race and racial identity. Pray aloud in the face of coopted, stolen and erased histories.  Pray aloud for those who have died, that they may live in our hearts and travel with us in our actions for justice and peace. Pray so loud that the only sound that can be heard is love.

Have you prayed aloud today?

Stop Resisting*

Warning: The following blog contains video content that is extremely disturbing and is posted for educational purposes only. Please watch at your own discretion.

PBS – Need to Know: Crossing the Line at the Border

I’m posting the link to the PBS documentary on the murder of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas at the San Diego border because there are two words that haunted me when I read about the recent altercation between police and a black family at a Fairfield, Ohio pool. The words are “Stop Resisting.” It would seem that these are the magic words that police and law enforcement officers utter to magically transform and safeguard their actions into an act of subduing a “violent criminal”…in the case of today’s situation, a 12 year old girl (read about it HERE.) With Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, the officers claimed that he became violent and needed to be subdued as they were transporting him back to Mexico…even though, as the video above shows, his feet were bound and ultimately his trousers were nearly torn off.  We hear the officers shouting “stop resisting” while he is repeatedly tazed and crying for his mother. In the end, he can be seen lying unresponsive on the ground (this happened in plain view of many people crossing the border and was captured on a camera phone.) We hear echoes of this command to “stop resisting” when we look at the Eric Garner video and see an unarmed man being choked to death. We hear it when the officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice case (also a 12 year old) claims that the “he had no other choice.”

IMG_0249These cases all began with assumptions. Assumptions and specific choices by the victims: that they could get away with breaking a minor law (Eric Garner); or escape a traffic violation or child support (Walter Scott); or in the case of Tamir Rice that he could play with a toy gun, or in the case of this week’s 12 year old, that she could go to a pool and swim with someone who had no suit. But it is the assumptions of those doing the policing that are repeatedly turning these stories into funerals. The assumption that a teenager wearing a hoodie is going to rob somebody and doesn’t belong in the neighborhood (Trayvon Martin); the assumption that a large framed teenager walking in the street is an unwelcome and lethal threat (Michael Brown); the assumption that a bikini clad 15 year old is going to cause physical trouble (McKinney, TX); the assumption that a 12 year old girl at a pool is a threat to a fully grown, armed and body armor clad man (Fairfield, OH); and of course the assumption presented in the PBS video above, that a hog tied immigration detainee with a broken ankle is a potentially lethal menace to at least 10 border patrol agents (Hernandez-Rojas.)

“The more that black and brown people, immigrants and the disadvantaged are assumed to be violent threats, and the more they are targeted by what feels like a “renaissance in racism,” the more they are going to feel the need to violently fight back.”

If all of this sounds ridiculous it is because, tragically, it is. There is no logic or justification for the psychology that is being exhibited as a standard in the way policing works in the United States. The only thing that is extremely clear is that the behavior being trained into the way people are policed in our country (regardless of the race of the officers…see Freddie Gray) is that if an alleged perpetrator has black or brown skin, regardless of their gender identity or if they have an accent, they are assumed to be older, more devious, more violent and more of a lethal threat to public order than they most likely are.

Our culture is playing with fire. The more that black and brown people, immigrants and the disadvantaged are assumed to be violent threats, and the more they are targeted by what feels like a “renaissance in racism,” the more they are going to feel the need to violently fight back.  All of this has the potential to spiral even more out of control than it already has.  As a civil society, we must look at the social construct we call race and actually deal with it. The truth is that we are no where yet near living in a world where it is either useful or welcome for a biologically, genetically and ethnically white woman to choose to be “black” so that she can co-opt her place in “fighting the good fight” ; particularly, when black and brown people who can’t choose to be anything else are being shot, beat up, targeted and abused, not only by deranged white supremacists, but even by the very people who are supposed to be protecting us all. The social construct of race was not created to keep white people in…it was created to keep everyone else out (see: #europeanimperialism & #onedroprule.) Until we deal with that  inequity, there will be no real just and fair inclusion…or policing for any of us.  And until we deal with it, people of color most certainly will not “stop resisting.”

*Please note: this post was written before news of the murders at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina had broken. Out of respect for the grieving families, I will not post commentary until an investigation has begun and the community directly impacted has decided on how they need to be supported. Please hold them in your hearts.

Choices, Choices, Choices…

 

Being born with dark brown skin is not a choice.
Being subject to violence based on the history of dark brown skin is, tragically, not a choice.

Fighting back against a systemic perversion of life based on dark brown skin is a choice.

Being born with light pink skin is not a choice.
Being associated with an embarrassing legacy of oppression created to protect light pink skin is not a choice.

Living each day to actively relieve that oppression connected to light pink skin is a choice.

Being born with a vagina is not a choice.
Being targeted as an object by ignorant people because of that vagina is, horrifically, not a choice.

Destroying restrictive patriarchy and building strong female narratives is a choice.

Being born with a penis is not a choice.
Being perceived to have immense, unwarranted, unjustified privilege because of that penis is not a choice.

Actively disempowering and stepping away from all vestiges of that privilege is a choice.

Being born with one or more sets of sexual anatomy is not a choice.
Being of a different inner life than that anatomy is not a choice.

Living into a healthy expression of the balance between the two is a lifesaving choice…
and is therefore no choice at all.

We do not choose the biology that we are born with.
Nor do we choose the history that goes with that biology.
Whether it is about sex or skin color…
We are all the product of the combination of both…biology and history…and so much more.

And our psyche is one place where the two meet
And we don’t get to choose that.

The spark of life…our spirit…is another
And that spark spirit is what impels us to want peace in our lives
…and we didn’t choose that either.

Being whole will never be just about an appearance,
Living a masquerade of someone else’s history…pain…journey…
Hiding behind makeup or hairstyles is, in the truest sense, a travesty;
Being whole is not.

Being whole begins within…
And being whole is not a choice when the other options are oblivion or death.

What we choose, and what is often truly brave,
Is how we share our wholeness with the world.

Being whole is the only choice.

The Persistent Racism of Theological Schools

Adam Dyer:

I look at this article and I gather great hope because of the questions it raises. It makes me ask these questions of my current academic home (The Pacific School of Religion) and my previous one (Starr King School for the Ministry.) It also makes me ask these questions outside of the academy and in government and commerce? Check our Part II as well!

Originally posted on Our Lucha:

GraduationAcademic departments of religion lack faculty of color not because they have difficulty finding any; but simply, they lack the will to hire any. If you are considering attending a theological school that does not have core professors (as oppose to adjuncts) who are from multiple communities of color, or simply has the one or two tokens, then seek another school. If the faculty fails to represent the diversity of the population, then that school – even if it claims to be among the Ivies – lacks academic excellence and rigor.

Since childhood, those of us who resided in the underside of history have been taught to see and interpret reality through the eyes of the dominant culture, specifically white, heterosexual, middle-upper class, patriarchal eyes. Scholars of color in general, Latino/as in particular, are usually kept at bay from contributing to the construction of how we perceive reality. Just look…

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Being ‘Just Black’

Adam Dyer:

Beautiful insight from my beautiful friend Jai Lobo! Please read!

Originally posted on Jairo Lobo:

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This morning I wrote an article in Dutch and after seeing the reactions and how often it was shared, I realized that it was also internationally relevant. Here is the English translation:

Among all the ‘us’ against ‘them’ discussions, lately I have been feeling rather displaced in the Netherlands. The prevailing general opinion seems to be that the starting point for dealing with one another is that there are people who are ‘from here’ (the white ones) and people who are ‘not from here’. Those are the immigrants and they are black. Native Dutch equals white and immigrant equals black. Even the people who take a stand against racism and segregation seem to do this based on the distinction between us and them. ‘Equal opportunity’ is created for ‘them’ (case in point: me). And that is exactly where the shoe pinches: the fact that (based on skin color) we have first determined…

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Coming Soon…All Out Adam!

Soon I will be launching my second blog: All Out Adam.  This new blog will be a space to focus entirely on gay men and race.  My hope is to also use this  as a collaborative space, where my brilliant friends and colleagues who are part of this conversation can contribute as well.  Stay tuned!

ALL OUT ADAM