Category Archives: Activism

THE 2016 ELECTION IS OVER…NOW WHAT??

20150712_210956_resized-1When we went to bed on November 8, 2016, everyone was hopeful that his or her candidate would win.  When we woke up on November 9, 2016, we found out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump won the electoral vote.  Donald Trump will be the President of the United States.  This news sent many people into a tailspin!

Mental health professionals reported an increase in calls to crisis hotlines, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trumps-win-is-causing-a-surge-in-demand-for-mental-health-services-2016-11-10

Talkspace.com, an online therapy service, reported a 7-fold spike in online traffic from people who needed therapy because of the election results.  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/14/online-therapy-startup-sees-a-7-fold-spike-in-traffic-after-trump-victory.html

Many people who devoted hours, weeks and months in opposition to “a Trump presidency” were reduced to tears, panic attacks, and some even took to their beds.  In the few days since the election, people have been struggling to make sense of the presidential election result and trying to figure out ‘where do we go from here?’

I’ll tell you where we go from here.  We go to work!  Donald Trump was not the only person elected on November 8, 2016.  On the federal level, representatives for Congress were also elected.  The United States Congress is in session and it’s time for us, WE THE PEOPLE, to get to work.  Here’s what YOU CAN AND MUST do:

  1. KNOW the names of your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. Here is the link for you to look up your Representatives  https://www.house.gov/representatives/  and your Senators. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=last_name&Sort=ASC
  2. Visit your Senators and Representatives’ websites and bookmark them as favorites (because you’re going to visit them REGULARLY!)
  3. Visit the website AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK and read about what your senators and representatives are doing.
  4. Send them emails REGULARLY and let them know what you want and what you don’t want!
  5. If they disregard our wishes, during the next election cycle, when it’s time to “renew their contracts”, we will vote them out!
  6. If they honor our requests and they remain on the ballot, we will vote them back in!

This is your life.  This is your country.   It’s time to get off your sickbed and get involved.

“Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” Hebrews 12:12-13

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No written portion of this article may be used without obtaining written permission from the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @kanishaladkins

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KEEPING THE BABY AND THROWING OUT THE BATH WATER

20150712_210956_resized-1Bill O’Reilly of FOX NEWS recently called the Black Lives Matter movement a hate group and vowed to take it down.  O’Reilly’s argument that Black Lives Matter is a hate group is based on a single incident.  This incident was a Black Lives Matter justice march (some say protest march, I say justice march) that occurred in Minnesota.  O’Reilly uses this single soundbite, a single moment in time from a march in Minnesota, to support his claim that Black Lives Matter was responsible for a police being killed in Texas, some 1200 miles away from the Minnesota.

How can O’Reilly or anyone support a claim based on a single incident?  I’m sure you have your own thoughts but here are a few of mine, all of which I’ll sum up in a word: IGNORANCE!  Ignorance is defined as: lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned; lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact; uninformed; unaware.  This most certainly describes O’Reilly’s level of knowledge when it comes to Black Lives Matter.

I am almost positive that O’Reilly does not know and has not taken the time to know the purpose and agenda of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The agenda of Black Lives Matter is to have specific policies and procedures adopted and implemented by all law enforcement departments across the country.  http://blacklivesmatter.com/ These policies include an end to policing for profit, limiting the use of force, the use of body cameras on all police officers, and appropriate training, such as in de-escalation, just to name a few.

No doubt, there are people who will use the phrase, Black Lives Matter, to validate illegal behavior, such as killing police officers.  There are even well-meaning people who may misappropriate the movement’s objectives.  But let’s be clear!  Illegal and bad behavior under the banner of Black Lives Matter is a misappropriation of the goal of Black Lives Matter.  And anyone who misappropriates the phrase to justify hurt and harm to other people is operating from the same place of ignorance as O’Reilly. Bottom line: O’Reilly displays a significant level of ignorance with regard to the purpose and agenda of Black Lives Matter.  But the ignorance does not stop there.

First of all, Black Lives Matter is not a group.  It is a philosophical movement made up of people of all races all over the United States, with the sole purpose of promoting, preserving and protecting Black lives from unjustified police brutality.  O’Reilly is wrong to refer to Black Lives Matter as a group because a group, it is not!

Second, the United States Congress has not enacted legislation that defines the term hate group because, from a legislative standpoint, the focus is not on the group.  The focus is on group activities. This is why Congress has defined the term hate crime, not hate group.

Third, a hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is defined as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin.”  “Police officers” are not a group based on “race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin.”  Therefore, police officers are not covered under the federal hate/bias crimes laws.

Fourth: The FBI, (Federal Bureau of Investigations), is charged with investigating federal crimes.  However, even the FBI has acknowledged that, “Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech (which is covered under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment) and other civil liberties.”  https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/hate_crimes/overview  The phrase that was chanted by the justice marchers in Minnesota, “pig’s in a blanket, fry’em like bacon”, could be considered juvenile, in poor taste, not in line with the true spirit of Black Lives Matter and yes, even hateful!  However, more than likely, the marchers’ right to say these words would be protected under the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause.

Finally, I’ll end with what the sacred text (in this instance, the Bible) has to say about hate. Depending on which version of the Bible you use, the word hate appears anywhere from 80 to 93 times.  But rather than going into a lengthy discourse on the many Hebrew and Greek words used to describe hate and the various verses that use it, I’ll just focus on one verse. Romans 12:9 says: “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil.  Cling to what is good.”  Based on Romans 12:9, it sounds to me that we have been authorized to hate evil things.

The Black Lives Matter movement believes that unfair and unnecessary police force, brutality and killings are evil.  So from this perspective, the movement hates evil practices. But make no mistake about it, Black Lives Matter is not a group that hates other groups simply because of who they are.  The movement hates the evil that people do.  The movement is not trying to get rid of police officers.  That would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.  And that would create a totally new problem.  Black Lives Matter is about solutions, not problems.

Have you ever heard the saying: “Love the sinner and hate the sin”?  Now who among  Christian folk, such as yourself, Bill O’Reilly or just good decent folk, in general, would dare to say “I don’t hate sin?”  Not too many and hopefully not any.  So perhaps you’re right, Bill.  Black Lives Matter does hate something.  It’s just not what you say!

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Sources:

New International Version Bible

Leading picture image: property of the author

All other picture images: taken from public domain

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

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

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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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FAITH & TECHNOLOGY: Cell Phones: The New Weapon In Our Warfare

20150712_210956_resized-1A colleague and close friend of mine, Rev. Theresa A. Dear, (National Board Member of the NAACP and CEO of HR4Non-profits), recently posted this question on her Facebook page:

“How and what can we learn from the Sandra Bland situation to become better humanitarians, advocates and leaders?” (https://www.facebook.com/theresa.a.dear?fref=ts)

It didn’t take long for me to think of one way this situation has taught us that we can ALL become more involved as advocates and leaders in the cause of humanitarianism. And it’s right at our fingertips…our CELL PHONES!

In 2015, just about everyone has a cell phone. The cell phone is so much a part of what we do and who we are that if we ever leave home without it, we turn around and go back to get it. In the palm of our hand and with the touch of a finger, we stay in touch we family and friends through text messages, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We keep up with the world through special apps and internet. We schedule appointments and put reminders on our calendars. We make purchases and financial transactions…all with the swipe of a finger.

I think it’s great!

We don’t have to wait to get home and sit down in front of a computer or wait until a brick and mortar building opens to handle our business. Cell phones can do so much and some people take them, literally, everywhere… to bed, to the bathroom and beyond…

…that’s right, some people can’t even part with their cell phones long enough to take a restroom break…

We take our cell phones EVERYWHERE! Even to our houses of worship. The Quaran, the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) and the Christian Bible all come in apps that can be installed on smartphones making it no longer necessary to haul around a heavy book. Many people use their smart phones to follow along and take notes when scriptures and sacred texts are being read, and to take notes on sermons and teachings.

Again I say, this is great!

The problem (for me) is the constant use of the cell phone cameras during worship! I recently read an article, which said that a chief rabbi in an Israeli region stated that cell phones were to be restricted from use and even restricted from being brought into Jewish study areas because the phone inhibited study of the Torah. In the United States, I don’t know if cell phones and cameras are allowed in mosques, synagogues, temples or other places of worship and teaching, which are not in the Christian tradition. But it seems that in many churches, people are so busy using cell phones to take pictures and make videos that they are distracted from the real purpose for gathering together, in the first place.

Isn’t the purpose for our coming together to be present…present in the moment… in fellowship with each other; to be present in the moment…in worship of our Creator?

I can understand an occasional picture or video by a proud parent or grandparent on a special occasion, but these should be the exceptions, not the rule. It has become a standard, Sunday morning practice to pull out cell phones and hold them in the air, as if we are lifting up holy hands in worship. But we’re not lifting our hands in worship. We’re lifting up cameras to capture a moment, never really having experienced the moment when it actually happened, because we were focused on our phones. We’re constantly taking pictures and making videos of church services. And for what reason? To post on a social media page?

The Church needs worshipers. The world needs witnesses! And in light of the irresponsible, abusive, rude, negligent and sometimes intentionally lethal behavior being used by some police officers, had there not been a witness with a camera phone, the truth would not be known. The Church and like-minded people of faith are being called to action in the cause for social justice. We have the power, literally and figuratively, in our hands, to answer that call.

The Christian Bible and other sacred texts teach that “our fight is not against flesh and blood…but against spiritual wickedness that sits in high places of authority” AND that “the weapons the people of God fight with are not the weapons of the world because the weapons used by the people of God have divine power to tear down strongholds”. Who would have thought that a cell phone could be used as a divine tool in the cause to bring justice? But that is exactly what is happening. It was a cell phone video that showed police behaving badly in the cases of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Grey and Sandra Bland, just to name a few.

When we leave our wonderful worship experiences, we need to remember there’s a war going on in our neighborhoods and communities. In fact, our worship should never end. For when we seek social justice, we are worshiping the Creator of Justice. And in addition to using prayer and fasting to battle “spiritual wickedness sitting in high places of authority”, our cell phones can also be one of the weapons of our warfare.

So, this is my response to the question, “How and what can we learn from the Sandra Bland situation to become better humanitarians, advocates and leaders?”: We can embrace the power that lies in our hands to expose injustice…the power of our cell phones. And as we hold our cell phones and lift our hands in worship, let us also hold our cell phones and lift our hands as witnesses.

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FAITH & SandySpeaks on Social Justice

20150712_210956_resized-1In just a few hours, family and friends will gather to lay to rest Sandra Bland aka “Sandy”.   Sandy Bland is the 28 year old African American woman who was driving along a highway in Prairie View, Texas, happily preparing to start a new chapter in her life as an employee at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M University, by Brian Encinia, an overly zealous, unprofessional cop (cop seems to suit him better than police officer) who (in my opinion) wanted to let her know he was large and in charge. It was July 10, 2015. I’ll remember that day because on July 10, 2015, my family and friends were having an 80th birthday celebration for one of the African American matriarchs in our family. While my family and friends were celebrating 80 years of life, love, faithfulness and service, Sandy Bland’s family was trying to get together $500.00 to bail her out of jail, after having been arrested and locked up

for an offense that is still not clear to me, although I’ve watched the dashcam video and read the transcript, multiple times…

Sandy’s family and friends had no idea that they would never see her alive again. And, in just a few hours, family, friends and people of faith will stand inside the walls of Dupage African Methodist Episcopal Church, (http://www.dupageamec.org/ )where Sandy grew up, learned about the Lord and offered her gifts in Christian service. (http://www.dupageamec.org/event/homegoingcelebrationforsandraabland ) And these family and friends will eulogize Sandy, sharing beautiful words and wonderful memories. Most of us won’t be present to hear the stories of who Sandy really was from people who really knew her. But I imagine that what they will say about Sandy are the very things that she herself spoke of in her video series entitled SandySpeaks. Instead of listening to the media, I decided to listen to SandySpeaks. This is what I heard.

Sandy spoke about SOCIAL JUSTICE. She spoke about justice for her people…African American people! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s absolutely right and it’s absolutely righteous. And for those of us who are familiar with New Testament texts from the Bible, a very well-known writer even dared to say that his desire was for his people to be saved. That’s right! The apostle Paul said his heart’s desire was for Israel to be saved. (Romans 10:1) And if Paul, a Jew, could declare that he had concerns for the welfare of his people (although he was speaking of their spiritual welfare), wasn’t Sandy, an African American entitled to speak on behalf of the welfare of her people? Sandy followed in the tradition of Paul, in this sense, by expressing her love and concern for her people, African American people, and her desire to see them have justice in America.

Sandy spoke about justice for those who were marginalized like African American men. She spoke about justice for those who were objectified, like African American women. She spoke about justice for those who were victimized, like African American children. Sandy spoke about the rights that were due to all Americans but denied to many African Americans, simply because of the color of their skin. Sandy spoke righteous truth to unrighteous power. Sandy spoke to oppressive people and to oppressive systems.

But Sandy also spoke to the oppressed. Sandy spoke to her people directly, empowering African Americans to do great things and be great people. Sandy spoke to African Americans, educating and encouraging us to be responsible, creators of our futures. Sandy spoke to her African American brothers and sisters, whom she lovingly referred to as kings and queens, inspiring us to be productive and to consistently work for the good of our kingdoms and queendoms.

The media and spin-masters would have us to believe that Sandy Bland was someone who she was NOT. We may not be able to hear the wonderful words of eulogy that will be spoken during Sandy’s home going celebration. But we are most definitely not left to the deceptive devices of character assassins in the media.

Sandy spoke about justice in her videos. She spoke for her people in SandySpeaks. And she spoke for herself during her encounter with a cop on a Texas highway. I have no doubt that speaking justice for herself — boldly, courageously, and with power and conviction– in the face of an unjust arrest is why she is not with us today. Sandy may not be here. But her voice can still be heard. SandySpeaks!

 

 

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