VOICES: Responses to the Oscar Grant Trial Verdict

Some of what we can do best with our given influences and voices (whether small or large) is allow it to become a platform for other important voices to be heard.   Check this video out comprised of multiple voices and perspectives following the verdict and during the protest.

Advertisements

Oscar Grant and 6% of the Population

Overshadowed by the hype of Lebron’s decision to sign with the Miami Heat, was the verdict of a controversial case that took place 18 months ago in Oakland, CA. See here for more info on the case.

At the end of the day, all this reminds me that we have not come too far from slavery.  What are black bodies actually worth in our society? If black men can entertain America while speaking good english, dressed main stream,  and not flashing their wealth in our face, then they seem to be valued.  However, for most of us (black men) our lives seem to still not matter that much in the eyes of our country.

This case is nothing new, it is not the first time an unarmed black man has been shot and killed by police and it will not be the last. The argument is always the same… the police officer always “accidently” shoots and kills us.  The thing I am confused about is how we are the only ones being shot and killed by police accidently, when we are only 6% of the nations population. I didn’t get an A in Statistics Class, but I am sure my math is good enough to know that the numbers and probability don’t add up right.

Black people are not the only people on earth or in human history to not have their bodies and lives valued.  In fact, in the 1st Century thousands and thousands of Jewish men were crucified under the authority and control of the Roman Empire.  In Rome, Jewish lives were desposable. In the second half of the century alone, about 6000 Jews were crucified.

Interestingly enough, we look at the crucifixion of Jesus as a unique death that no one else could bare.  The truth is that the Roman Empire saw Jesus just like they saw all the other thousands of Jews killed during that era… he was just another Jew, and taking his life was no big deal.  I mean, it wasn’t like he was Roman or something right?

America must move beyond the apathy it has towards the lives of black people. Not care about them because they can rap, ball, dance, act, tell a good joke, or speak “good english”, but because we too are created by God and in His image.  And when any of God’s beloved are undervalued, marginalized, or mistreated, we should all be troubled. We ought to rediscover our righteous indignation that disallows our comfort in the midst of others struggles. Whether someone is Black, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Homeless, Homosexual, a drug addict or prostitute we need to care about their lives, bodies, and overall welfare. Apart of our calling (if you are Christian) is to take care of “the least of these” in our society.  That is those who are most vulnerable in our society.  And that includes Oscar Grant and all the others who have been MURDERED while vulnerable and unprotected by the people who have been charged to provide safety and protection to them.

You And Now!

image

This is my last night on my Civil Rights bus tour, and I thought I would leave you all with a John Lewis quote for the night. The picture was taken from the Civil Rights section of the Nashville Public Library downtown.

March 4th, 1968

image

Everytime I am in Memphis and go to the Lorraine Motel I get emotional. Standing there where King was shot always takes me into the moment. All I feel is loss… loss of this leader, OUR leader, who was taken from us. King died at the young age of 39 leaving us wondering what other great accomplishments he would achieved in his life. He would never get the chance to grow old, instead he was killed while fighting for the rights of garbage workers.

Intruder Alert

Just thought this was a intriguing comic on the whole Arizona Immigration law, given that land once belonged to Mexico.  Honestly, I think it is a complex issue and I refuse to fall into either the liberal or conservative camp on this one.  I liked what Robert Gelinas asked on his blog… not whether or not we agree with the law, but rather what Christian principles were people applying to arrive at an faithfully christian response.  Obviously, many people found scripture to justify both sides of the argument. I just wonder if God is pleased with either answer.  Ultimately, whatever our response is to the law, we must be convinced that it is a demonstration of our love to God and our love for others (specifically, undocumented immigrants).

Are You Turning A Blind Eye To People’s Suffering?

This is a verse from Talib Kweli’s song “I Try”. He is a thoughtful and creative lyricist… and a breath of fresh air when compared to the main stream rap crap that is on the radio.  Pay close attention to what he’s sayin…

Yo, the things I’m seein’ on the news is insane
A stock broker shoot his kid and throw himself in front of a train
A mother leave her baby home for two weeks all by himself
Three years old, eatin’ ketchup and mustard, cryin for help
Tryin’ to bring your struggle to life
The label want a song about a bubbly life
I have trouble tryin’ to write some sh*t
To BANG in the club through the night
When people suffer tonight

Lord knows I try

Where are you at? Are you focused on others and that “people suffer tonight” or are you focused on your self and chasing “a bubbly life”?

We Had Some Church Today

I can remember time after time leaving the church service on Sunday, hearing one of the older saints in the church yell out that “we really had some church today”, or actually “chuch” would be the more accurate vernacular. Typically that meant that when the believers had gathered together, everything was right on point. Worship was inspiring and God-adoring, the choir sang their hearts out, and the preacher stirred the congregation with a Word that was really powerful. New people probably even came forward and asked Jesus to come into their hearts as their very own personal savior. That sounds great doesn’t it…. sounds like a day full of church doesn’t it? Or was that really good church after all? On our best day, when we have our best voices singing in harmony, people are lifting hands and clapping, is God pleased? When have we had some good church?

Honestly, I question our understanding of good church. Do not get me wrong, I think God desires for us to come together regularly in His name. In fact Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we should not neglect coming together, however we should not so easily skip over verse 24 as many are in the habit of doing.It says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (TNIV). The emphasis of the verse doesn’t seem to care as much about the nature of our coming together, but the fruit of our coming together. It seems clear that the fruit of our coming together, is the producing of a community that is loving others and is doing good deeds. Our gatherings are not for the purpose of feeling good on the inside nor merely just becoming better people.

It goes way beyond that, we gather to get something going, to jump start a movement. When we gather we are supposed to be inspired, provoked, and ignited. However we are not provoked merely on how to pray better or read our bible more. (Important things to do, don’t confuse what I am saying). If our coming together only provokes our personal piety, personal spiritual lives, and personal morality without breaking into the sphere of loving others and doing good deeds then we have missed it. It seems that our coming together regularly should be shaping us as a people that go out into our communities bringing relief to those with aids, adopting children who have been neglected, standing up against injustice, living counter-cultural lives that challenge powerful institutions that oppress their workers.

Our gatherings need to be formed for the very purpose that “we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” And if that is not happening when we gather, then we have hardly had some “chuch”. Maybe our having good church is less about what goes on inside the walls of our facilities that we gather in and more about what happens once we leave. Maybe it’s about our engaging our neighbors with love, helping that elderly woman fix that broken faucet in her house. Mabye it’s about taking some time to spend with that young boy who wanders the streets at all hours, without any guidance and mentors involved in his life. Maybe it’s spending the time to help someone create a good resume and help them network to get a job. (Since getting a job is more about who you know, than what you know.)

Hardly do we see Jesus inside the synagogue, and the few times he was, there were attempts or at plots on his life because he taught or stood up for justice. If Jesus spent most of his time and “ministry” outside the walls of the church engaging people, meeting them on their terms while trying to liberate and empower them from the burdens, sin, and sickness of life, why have we revolved our lives around what goes on inside the church. I think its time for us to encourage one another that we can’t spend all our time at church meetings and services throughout the entire week, but instead urging each other to be active in our communities as salt and light as we love and do good deeds. Once the church has left the building, and we are in our communities serving and loving folks. We can call each other up on the phone and talk about how “we had some church today!!!”.

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Holy Week…

If anyone knows me, they know that I believe that this time ought not only be about remembering Jesus on the cross, but the cross of Jesus ought to be shaping how we live our lives too.  Our lives now ought be continually marked by love, sacrifice, submission, and service to God and others!