Monthly Archives: August 2015

HEADS UP! MILLENNIALS APPROACHING…PARENTAL GUIDANCE NEEDED!

20150712_210956_resized-1A few days ago, on August 15, 2015, Julian Bond transitioned from time to eternity.  To say that he lived a progressively full life is an understatement.  While still in his 70’s, Mr. Bond retired from a 20 year teaching career as a history professor at the University of Virginia, “Mr. Jefferson’s University”, having also taught at several other universities.  More than a decade earlier he served as president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People before becoming the chairman of the national NAACP, at the age of 58.  At the age of 31, he became the first president of the newly established Southern Poverty Law Center.  At 28, he became the first African American to be nominated as a major-party candidate for Vice President of the United States of America.  At 25, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representative where he served for 10 years and afterwards, to the Georgia Senate for 11 years.  And at 20, while still a college student, he became a founding member of SNCC (pronounced SNIC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  SNCC, a prominent part of the 1960’s civil rights movement, was organized by and run by students and Mr. Bond served as SNCC’s Communications Director for several years. (http://www.naacp.org/preview/pages/julian-bond)  Mr. Bond lived to see the age of 75, but when he became active in the movement for civil rights and social justice, he was, in many respects, still a child.

Now before you argue that college students are young adults and not children, consider this: As schools gear up for the fall semester, ask any parent who is taking their 20, 19, 18, 17 or (heaven forbid) 16 year old son or daughter to college and this parent will still refer to this son or daughter as their “baby”.  That’s because the parent realizes that even at the age of 20 (and definitely younger), this young person is, in the scheme of life, still a child.   And, in the scheme of life, they still need someone with more years of experience and, hopefully, more wisdom, to point them in the right direction. In other words, they need parental guidance.

This is not to say that children, youth and young adults can’t or don’t take the initiative to do wonderful and meaningful things.  A prime example is Julian Bond and the young people in the 1960s who organized and led SNCC. Another example is the young people who, today in 2015, are leading the lines and the chants as ‘America’s Journey for Justice’ marches across the southern states on their way to the nation’s capital.  And when these young people do these wonderful things, older people have a tendency to quote the bible verse: “And a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) (Even people who never pick up a bible quote this verse!)

The problem is that when this scripture is used to applaud the wonderful things that young people do, it is being used completely out of context.  This particular verse and the passage from which it is taken does not advocate for children to lead adults or even lead other children in doing good works to establish a better world.  This verse describes what the world will look like after justice, love, peace, joy, happiness and all those other good things have already been established in the world.  As adults, we need to stop saying, “and a child shall lead the way.” And I’ll be the first to say that I have probably quoted this verse out of context as well, and now, I repent!

Using this verse out of context (I believe) excuses adults from our responsibility of giving young people the instruction and guidance they need, even when they do great and wonderful things.  Child development specialist have been saying for years that the part of the brain that is responsible for distinguishing between right and wrong and making moral decisions is not fully developed until around age 25 or 26.  We adults seem to understand this when a 20 year old is in the news for some horrific act like killing someone or a 16 year old is in the news for stealing someone’s property.  When bad things happen, adults often ask, “Where are the parents?”, because we believe that this was: 1) a child; and 2) a child who was still in need of parental guidance.

I am 100% in favor of encouraging and praising young people when they do well.  And in addition to being proud and starry-eyed when young people take initiative, instead of chiming, “and a child shall lead the way”, we adults should remind ourselves to, “Direct [our] children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”  (Psalm 22:6)

Children, youth and young adults need the wisdom and experience that older adults have to offer.  They need parental-type mentors in their lives, not just for personal, individual decisions but also for communal/shared social issues.  Ella Baker, in her late 50s, left the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to serve as an adviser to the young students of SNCC.  Somewhere along the way, we, the Baby Boomer generation, have dropped the ball.  I recently heard B. Courtney McBath of Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, Virginia say, “When you’re too old to play, you ought to coach.” (http://www.lightsource.com/ministry/voice-of-revival/video-player/united-for-purpose-483268.html)  This is, in fact, the complaint that young adults have with the Baby Boomer and older generations: that we have failed to coach them and instead have left them to fin for themselves and find their own way, particularly when it comes to issues related to social justice.   Baby Boomers, we need to get our heads back in the game!

There is a saying that goes something like this: “We call the young because they are strong. We call the elders because they know the way.”  This is a call for the elders, which, in this case, is probably anyone 40 years old and above.  The young people, who are strong, who can still do the heavy lifting, like those in SNCC and in America’s Journey for Justice, still need the elders to show them the way.  Baby Boomers?  We dare not think we can pass the baton and then sit back and relax.  Our teens, ‘tweens and young adults, even those in their 20s, need us.  Heads up Baby Boomers! Millennials Approaching, Parental Guidance is needed.

 

Sources:

New International Version Bible

Images from public websites

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No written portion of any article on this site may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

  

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PUT YOUR FAITH WHERE THE FIGHT IS!

20150712_210956_resized-1A few weeks ago, people of various races, genders and faiths began America’s Journey for Justice in Selma Alabama, marching across the southern states. The march is being led by the NAACP to highlight and to continue to address racial justice issues and is scheduled to end in Washington, D. C. in mid-September. When the justice marchers reach the nation’s capital, we who truly believe in ‘liberty and justice for all’, will fervently declare that our votes, our jobs, our schools and our lives matter!

…I have no doubt that change will come and justice will be, once and for all, also on the side of the oppressed, the marginalized and the disenfranchised. After all, I’ve heard that God is the God of the oppressed. And God wins, right?!…

But change has a tendency to come slowly. Someone once said, “The wheels of justice grind slowly”. The problem with these slow grinding wheels is that people are dying AND being killed very quickly. And that death is not just physical. The death is economic, financial, social, emotional, psychological, mental, and every other way that we can describe our existence in this world.

We can’t (or I can’t) turn on the T.V., log onto the internet or glance at a smartphone or tablet without seeing the name of yet another person, primarily African American and primarily male, whose life has been cut short.  Every time we turn around we here of “trickery”, both legal and illegal tactics, at election polls to suppress voting rights, primarily the rights of people who are poor and disenfranchised. We are constantly hearing of poor people being forced out of their neighborhoods because of gentrification, with no place to go to make a decent home or an honest living. We are constantly hearing of failing inner city school systems. It looks pretty bleak!

But even in light of and in spite of what I see, I have hope. I have hope because I’m a woman of faith, I believe God wins and I believe that everyone on God’s side wins! I believe justice will come! But it won’t come fast. And it won’t come easy. And when that ‘delayed justice’ happens, what are we supposed to do? What happens when our cry for justice is lifted up to the governing powers and they stall like a deer caught in headlights? What are the consequences when we, the people, cry out and demand justice but justice is not given?

The answers, I believe, can be found in many places, two of which are the Bible and the Constitution of the United States of America. There are so many passages in the Bible that speak of justice and the responsibility of those who are genuinely on God’s side. The passages are too numerous to list but here are a few that address our responsibility for justice:

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8-9); “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” (Psalm 82:3); “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17); “… let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24); “… what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8); and last but not least, “Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:20)

This last verse, “justice, and only justice, you shall follow” leads me to the United States Constitution, which says:

“…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it [the government], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them [the people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)

In other words, when governing bodies and systems become unjust, the citizens, who, in good faith, put these governing bodies and systems into place, are empowered and mandated by the Constitution to make a change.  AND when people are being oppressed by unjust governing bodies and systems, the people of God are empowered and mandated by the Bible to change unjust systems.

There it is! In black and white! In sacred and secular text! We, the people, have the right and the obligation to right wrongs, to bring justice to unjust systems on behalf of those who are pushed out to the edges of society. In spite of this dual dose of empowerment from sacred and secular text, our society has embraced a sense of complacency. I know that some people will quote the verse, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” I agree! Vengeance belongs to God. But God has commissioned us to seek justice. Justice and Vengeance are not the same thing!

When did we, the people of God (that is, those who claim to authentically follow God, who is holy, righteous and just) become so complacent in the pursuit of justice? When did we settle into the notion that we are only responsible for our personal salvation? Contrary to what we believe or what we want to believe, our relationship with God doesn’t stop with us. Even Jesus said to Peter, “When you are converted, strengthen the brothers,” (of course, this applies to sisters too.) (Luke 22:32).

And why are we, the people of God, so quiet when it comes to standing up for the rights of the oppressed?  Where did we get the notion that the pursuit of justice is a quiet pursuit? Our dainty, white gloves pursuit of justice makes me think of a Pine-sol commercial. One lady, writhing on the floor in a “dirt snuggler” says she’s gently cleaning and polishing the floor. Another lady asks, “And why would you want to treat dirt gently?” This is my question with regard to our gentle pursuit of justice. Why would we want to treat unjust systems gently?

Jesus, himself, was quite the activist and was known to turn over a table or two in the pursuit of justice and righteousness. (Matthew 21:12) What’s that you say? You say you love God? You say Jesus is your savior, your leader, your example? You say you believe in justice? Well, take a page from Jesus. Justice requires action. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17)

As the people of God, we have no excuse NOT to seek justice. It is our obligation! As the people of God were are to follow justice ONLY! It is not enough for us to quietly assemble in our houses of worship and teaching, send up prayers and praise, and then return home to our own little corner, to our own little chair. We have been ordained, mandated and empowered to seek justice for the oppressed. To use a boxing metaphor. We’ve been in our corners too long, people of God! It’s time to come out swinging!

Sources:

English Standard Version Bible

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

To become a justice marcher or to find out other ways that you can support America’s Journey for Justice, simply click this link. (http://www.naacp.org//ajfj)

Follow America’s Journey for Justice on Facebook (#JusticeSummer)

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No written portion of any article on this site may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

 

 

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“FAITH &…” 40 Days and 40 Nights

20150712_210956_resized-1A major movement is going across the southern United States. It’s America’s Journey for Justice (http://www.naacp.org//ajfj) sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (www.naacp.org) An 860-mile march from Alabama started earlier this month at the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.

…You remember the Edmund Pettus Bridge, don’t you? It’s the site where 600 peaceful protesters were met, on a Sunday in 1965, with tear gas and violent billy club beatings by state and local police, simply for attempting to go from Selma to Montgomery to claim the right to vote for Black people in Alabama. It’s the site where that horrific event, now known as “Bloody Sunday”, occurred. (http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/al4.htm) This is the site where America’s Journey for Justice started…

Just before the march started, Rev. Theresa A. Dear, NAACP National Board Member and one of the justice marchers stated, “We are doing something of biblical proportions.”  “Of biblical proportions” INDEED! For this journey for justice will take place over the span of 40 days and 40 nights.
The number “40” appears numerous times throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some people may think that it’s just a random number that appears throughout the sacred and holy texts. But others believe that the number “40”, whether it’s 40 years or 40 days, has significance and that it represents a period of waiting, testing and preparation. Think about…

The “Great Flood” that caused Noah, his family and the animals to be shut up in the ark, was the result of 40 days and 40 nights of rain. (Genesis 7:4, 12) While on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, Moses received commandments and instructions from God, which he wrote on stone tablets. (Exodus 24:18) After breaking the tablets, Moses returned to Mount Sinai for another 40 days and 40 nights to receive and write the commandments of God again. (Exodus 34:28) The men whom Moses sent to spy on the land of Canaan, which was promised by God to the people of Israel, were gone for 40 days (and presumably 40 nights). (Exodus 13:25) The giant Goliath confronted and taunted the armies of Israel for 40 days and 40 nights, once in the morning and once in the evening, before he was defeated by David. (I Kings 17:16) The prophet Elijah, after eating a single meal, was strengthened and traveled for 40 days and 40 nights. (1 Kings 19:8) Jonah warned the people of Nineveh that they had 40 days to repent and return to God or their city would be destroyed. (Jonah 3:4) Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:2) And after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples over a period of 40 days, speaking to them about the Kingdom of God and the promise of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:3)

All of these events lasted 40 days and 40 nights. All of them represented a period of waiting, testing and preparation. And at the end of the 40 days and 40 nights, great and mighty works were eventually accomplished. The same is sure to be the story when America’s Journey for Justice completes its 40 day and 40 night march, stopping in 5 southern states: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, to rally additional supporters and marchers and to focus attention on their agenda before ending at their final destination.

The agenda? “To advance and protect the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. “ The destination? Washington. D. C., the nation’s capitol!

The advocates, sponsors and partners? Individual girls, boys, women and men, and a host of social, religious and civic groups and organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Congress of Black Women, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Greenpeace, just to name a few.

In the middle of the summer, 860 miles, 40 days and 40 nights, 5 southern states and the District of Columbia. In the words of Rev. Dear, “The days are hot. The march is long. The victory is certain.”

To become a justice marcher or to find out other ways that you can support America’s Journey for Justice, simply click this link. (http://www.naacp.org//ajfj)

Follow America’s Journey for Justice on Facebook (#JusticeSummer)

Follow “FAITH &…” at www.KanishaLAdkins.com

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