Reminded of The State of The Union

flags

Yesterday, I went out cycling for some exercise at a nearby park. Upon finishing and returning to the parking lot, I entered a conversation with a fellow biker unloading his bike. He came over to my car as I racked my bike to continue the conversation.  He was an older white guy in his mid-sixties. The conversation quickly shifted from cycling talk to the impact of COVID-19. I listened to him for about 2 minutes and then I realized, in my free loving just talk with anyone ways, this person was rimming over with information he had been gathering from his news sources and the circles he travels in, and I had provided him an opportunity to pour out his opinions. I understand the propensity of older people to share their views to enlighten those who will follow them, so I let him finish expressing his thoughts. When he was done, he had given me his explanation of why the corona virus had been particularly hard on New York. In a nut shell, he stated it was due to the illegal immigrants living ten deep in apartments infecting one another. He made sure to make a distinction from undocumented immigrants to illegal immigrants. He also stated the illegal immigrants were most likely “dogs” from their homeland. I am not exaggerating this or embellishing his words in any way.

This wasn’t provocative to me because after living in America and seeing how the mythology of American history is taught and perpetuated, I understood perfectly how he could have these viewpoints. It is no different from labeling native Americans as savages to justify the profits from taking their land. It is no different from labeling African abductees as incapable monkeys, only two-thirds human to justify profits made through their enslavement. The labeling of humans that seek asylum in America is another way of justifying the profits made from government contracts in privately run prisons and holding facilities.

So, I calmly shared with this older citizen that these were not undocumented immigrants or illegal immigrants, these people were first and foremost humans, just like he and I. As humans, they deserved to have their humanity protected and preserved with the same rights and dignities as every other human. I told him that at a minimum, that is what the law of the land should provide to all humans. I explained to him that they were not just human, they were also individuals and deserved to be treated on the merits of their individual selves and we should care about their individual stories. Well, the tone of the conversation changed after that, and he went on to tell me he was exercising and on meds because he had an ailment that was causing his arteries to harden. I hoped our conversation had at least softened his heart.

I drove away pondering the level of continued blindness in what is now the twenty-first century. I don’t think he stopped for moment to consider that he was speaking to someone who has ancestors, which only a generation ago, had to sit in the back of buses and in the rear of trains and barely could vote in the south, due to them being unjustly stigmatized. I don’t think he is aware that this blight is still impacting the lives of many people of color through the criminal justice system in higher incarceration rates and longer sentencing, as well as the financial sector through higher interest loans and higher insurance premiums and lower property value assessments.

It will probably take months, if not years, to get the facts on who has been most impacted by COVID-19. A lack of thorough testing and no country wide standards enforced on documenting and reporting related deaths during the first weeks of the outbreak, will impact the accuracy of statistics. This pandemic reveals yet how far we are from the ideals of The Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The Official Theme of Black History Month is “The Vote”

The Vote

The theme for Black History month this year is “The Vote”. This is the sesquicentennial of the Black vote or its 150th anniversary. This month the founders of Black History month, The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, brings focus to the historical inclusion of African Americans into the category of “people” with certain unalienable rights. The Declaration of Independence, known as one of the founding Charters of Freedom, declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It took the U.S. 346 years to finally acknowledge Black Americans as humans with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. From the first documented ship that arrived in Virginia with the human trafficked from Africa (1619), until the Voting Rights Act (1965), was 346 years. This is an indictment on the Christian roots of this nation. If the framers were truly enlightened, and this was a Christian nation, it would not have taken over 350 years to see that Black people are heirs of Christ as well. The fact that many confessing Christians view America as a Christian nations exposes a deep root of delusion, and the lack of a true relationship with Christ the Savior. The Book of 1st John states that whoever says they love GOD, yet hate their brother is a liar.

Even after the passing of the Voting Rights Act, there were still many obstacles to the polls, from terrorism by white supremacist to voter suppression by governing bodies. The latter is still n issue today in the former Jim Crow states. In 2013, Alabama officials argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby versus Holder, that the protections provided under the Voting Rights Act were no longer needed to prevent discrimination, and on June 25th of that year the court agreed. This has opened the door for polling changes previously blocked by the VRA to be instituted, like the “exact match” policy which has been proven to disproportionately affect the black community.

The struggle continues….

 

Making The Choice To Be Human

humans

To treat someone humane means to treat someone as you would want to be treated. It means to show others the same sympathy, consideration, and regard you desire for yourself. Any time you fail to show this to another person, in that moment, you are being inhumane. I know what it is like to be treated inhumanely; to have someone look toward you but never actually see you, because they have projected on you an image conjured from ingrained ignorance and misinformation; to have your voice deflected by a belief that it is inherently missing a tone of relevance. These examples may not seem significant, however, they identify the underlying darkness which enables one person to mistreat another or for one part of society to abuse another. This includes all forms of injustice rooted in inequality and hate, for example, the enslavement of humans, the general marginalization of humans, and all forms of human exploitation.

I said earlier that I know what it is like to be treated inhumanely, but I also know what it is like to be inhumane. I grew up in a culture where the dehumanization of others has been normalized. I grew up watching the genocide of the indigenous people of North America as entertainment in “Cowboy and Indian” movies. I watched sporting events which debased the humanity of Native Americans like the “Red Skins” and the “Braves”. As a kid, at a Braves game, I would watch “Chief Knock-a-Homer” arrayed in eagle’s feathers and beads do a dance on top of the Braves dugout to summon a home-run. It doesn’t matter if “Chief Knock-a-Homer” was Native American or not, it was unconscionable. As a child I watched “Looney Tune” and “Warner Brothers” cartoons objectify female characters as sex symbols and stigmatize them as helpless nagging dim wits. In these same cartoons, Mexicans were often portrayed as lazy, slow speaking people, often surrounded by flies. These inhumane images, as a form of entertainment, was an attack on my own humanity in the form of desensitization. The destruction of Black humanity has been so prevalent and obvious I don’t think it’s necessary to site an example, but just in case there is an extraordinary chance that someone is scratching their head over this, let’s take the U.S. Government. It should be unnecessary for there to be constitutional amendments and Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts and Anti-Lynching laws to ensure the obvious, that all men are created equal and should have equal citizenship, but that is not the case. There must be authoritative monitoring and enforcement of individual’s civil rights or people get destroyed. We wouldn’t need big government if the majority of Americans didn’t have such small hearts.

You are not dehumanized until you replicate the cold-hearted acts of the inhumane. The power to be human and remain humane is yours. Preserve your humanity through the wisdom of GOD shared in 2 Peter 1:2-8 (KJV):

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

January has been cited as Human Trafficking Awareness month. Many people aren’t aware of how prevalent and close to us human trafficking is. It is like a raging sewer of human rights violations happening right beneath our feet. February has been cited as Black History month. This observance is necessary because many of the vital contributions Black people have made to the establishment and development of America, at great sacrifice, go unheralded and uncelebrated. These are two of many socially conscious observances that occur throughout the calendar year. Below, I have listed several similar observances recognized in America. Don’t allow yourself to be alienated from these ethnic and social observances which serve to bring us all closer through the eradication of ignorance and the disruption of ingrained unconscious bias. The more we learn about each other and the events that have shaped this world, the more it is affirmed that the human race is the only race, and all our lives are connected.

 

January

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

February

National Black History Month

March

Greek-American Heritage Month

Irish-American Heritage Month

Women’s History Month

May

Asian Pacific American History Month

Jewish-American Heritage Month

September

National Hispanic Heritage Month

October

German-American Heritage Month

National Italian-American Heritage Month

Polish-American Heritage Month

November

National American Indian Heritage Month

 

A Message for American Church Folk

Church Fans

Recently, one of my brother’s in Christ posted a message on Facebook regarding the ongoing segregation witnessed in churches across America. He cited the 1960s quote by Dr. King, “the most segregated hour in this nation is Sunday at 11:00 am.” This whole topic of the church being segregated is due to social engineering, which many are still controlled by. The devil’s way of keeping control of the masses is through keeping them divided. He knows there is power in agreement and unity. His strategy is working. The question is, why is this social engineering controlling people who confess to love and serve Christ. It is because it is reinforced from the pulpits. Many church leaders are presenting an American version of the gospel, one that is politically correct and culturally compliant. Any minister that calls America a Christian nation has not seen nor heard Christ.

Many white Americans have the perspective of America being of Christian origin, a godly country. This view of America has a polarizing effect on all those who have been terrorized and dehumanized by her from the beginning. Many white people have not been able to grasp how looking over America’s destruction of people of color is the same as saying their lives do not matter. If a person were to tell you that someone they understood was guilty of killing many of your relatives in the past and is still killing and hurting them today is really a good person, how would you feel about that person. Every time someone says America just needs to get back to its founding values, that is what people of color face. I had a white brother tell me in a bible study that the “Black Lives Matter” movement should be “All Lives Matter” …he doesn’t get it. I had a white sister tell me that for her, America lost its innocents and Camelot fell, when Kennedy was assassinated…she was unconscious.

Let’s look at some of the issues with my people of color. You were once forbidden to read in America and now that you can, many of you still won’t. Many black people haven’t cultivated the habit of studying. I mention this one because it is the biggest problem in the Black community. Please stop talking about what your pastor said, PLEASE read for yourself what thus saith the spirit of GOD. We have some deep wounds in the Black community that constantly get poked, but we must stop turning to sex, drugs, food, and entertainment to medicate, but instead look to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of GOD. Lastly, though the culture of white supremacy is formidable, greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. We must get free from the spirit of the ni–er, and it has nothing to do with your address or bank account, whether you believe yourself to be wealthy or poor. Remember, Joseph was in prison and then a servant in Pharaoh’s house, but GOD used him to deliver Egypt and the children of Israel. If you haven’t read about it, you should go find it in the bible.

What has all this to do with church segregation? People need their minds renewed. You can’t truly see who you are until you can see the GOD in who’s image you were made. You can’t see who I am until you understand who you are. Once you recognize yourself as a child in the family of GOD, you will begin to recognize your kinfolk. It will then be much easier to see yourself in other Hue-mans. This will enable you to love others as you love yourself.

People are in church for too many different reasons. Ministers, if you are serving in church to make people’s lives better, you have missed it. Parishioner, if you are going to church to make your life better, you have missed it. Those that seek GOD must do so because He alone is LIFE.

The Value of Human Life

the cross

As I look at the public policy practiced by the United States throughout history, I see a consistent pattern of mass dehumanization. This practice of dehumanization isn’t just an American characteristic, it is the spirit of this current world system. Due to the extreme human right violations that were tolerated in the 20th century and earlier, like the atrocities of ethnic cleansing and chattel slavery, the conscience of many have become seared. We have seen improvement but the core defect which produces inhumane activity is just as strong as ever. This is why in the 21st century we see human trafficking, mass murders, the monetizing of injustice through the criminal justice system, brutal immigration policy, and a total disregard of the eco-system that sustains natural life. What is this core defect? It is the inability to see the humanity in one another. You can’t love another human as yourself, until you can see yourself in another human. This fatal human condition is brought on through the absence of real Love. I don’t mean absent from the universe, I mean absent from the inner-space of the heart of man. Love is all around us constantly, just unrecognizable to the uncivilized masses. I say uncivilized because ethically speaking, mankind today is just as primitive as ever.

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Instead of being filled with Love, man is filled with the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world erases humanity so that you see females as sexual objects, a young black man as a burden on society, an immigrant from Mexico as a criminal invader, a young black woman as a whore, a protester looking for equality and justice as an enemy of the state, an employee as an expendable asset, anyone in a thobe or hijab as a terrorist, and the white man as a non-redeemable devil.

problems

Love makes us ethical beings. Love causes us to remain ethical through self-governing, even when society legally permits unethical behavior. Every American should ask themselves, why those that practiced chattel slavery and ethnic cleansing are still celebrated as great men, and what values does this adoration promote. Eight of Americas Presidents were human rights violators as owners of enslaved humans while in office, to include Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Grant. Every follower of Christ should ask themselves why many churches laud America as a Christian nation when its policies, both foreign and domestic, have not reflected the doctrine of Christ. Here is why; through known or unconscious bias, the majority of U.S. Citizens only register full humans when they see white skin, and the majority of confessing Christians love this corrupt world more than they do Yeshua the Christ, aka Jesus the Savior.

Now, I can’t expect any more from the worldly than the characteristics of this world. It is natural to be a product of your environment, especially when formal education and news outlets are filled with worldly propaganda. However, the church of the lamb of GOD, the bride of the one who became a ransom for ALL humans, the church of the Immaculate One who rose again, SHOULD KNOW BETTER! The church should be warning the wicked, but instead, they are selling the blood of the Lamb like a cheap pharmaceutical for sin. You should be trembling, because judgement will start with you first.

Every human has the same value, regardless of their sex or national origin, because the blood of Christ was shed to redeem all humans. Christ has established the value of every human life, so every man out there creating debts will have to settle up with Him.

 

king returning

Art is by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992

To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated”

site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com

 

Empathy: The Power of Greater Vision

 

greater vision

I wrote a piece recently about hoping empathy will rise in this New Year, looks like it is beginning with my own heart. Due to all the exposure of racially motivated violence in the past couple of years, I have heard many white people saying they didn’t realize black people still had it so bad. I have also had many white men say to me that they are just realizing that male white privilege is not just a mythical politically motivated assertion. Initially, my reaction to those having these epiphanies was – C’mon really.

I am beginning to see how when you are immersed in something from birth, it is hard to recognize it as unnatural, foreign, or harmfully infectious. I have advocated for the better treatment of women through writing and through speaking directly to men. I have spoken to women about their immeasurable value, above and beyond physical beauty. However in all that I have come to understand, I know that I have not fully grasped the depth and scope of the mental and physical impact centuries of oppression has had on women. By accepting that fact, hopefully I have increased my ability to hear and understand my sisters unto deeper and more fulfilling relationships.

When you consider that from the founding of America, most of the information propagated in this society from the imagery, writings, entertainment, public policy, education, and so forth has been generated out the oppressive source. Our social environment is so thoroughly contaminated with certain biases and prejudice ideologies that it is almost impossible not to normalize some of it in your psyche. That goes for those who are oppressed, as well as the oppressors. This is true in every instance where America has historically practiced injustice and inequality.

Our moral compass has to align with an influence higher than just the survival instinct, if we are to reach the promise land of liberty and justice for all. Creatures like jackals and snakes know how to survive, but it has been ordained for man to have Life. To “have”, is defined as to hold or maintain as a possession, privilege, or entitlement. Every person is entitled to the freedom and means to realize the potential of their being. Anytime someone purposely hinders another person’s progression in this sacred right it is reprehensible. We have to respect everyone else’s entitlement to live as we do our own. That is why the golden rule is so vital to humanity. The commandment of GOD, to love our neighbor as ourselves, invokes the power of empathy. The power of empathy gives us the ability of greater vision through the use of many lenses. This why hate blinds us but love shows us the way.

Revelations from the Eye of the Storm

The Exercise

I had a discussion recently with a white male friend of mine about the different perspectives people can have based on their life experiences. The conversation led to him sharing how he knew he was a beneficiary of white male privilege in America and how that privilege has led to a disconnect sometimes when it comes to him understanding the Black perspective. The next day he sent me a couple of different links to videos of Jane Elliot’s “Brown Eyed/ Blued Eyed” exercises. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Jane Elliot but in case you are not, she is an educator that has done some good work on exposing the racism innate in American culture. Her work began the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She did an exercise with her primary school students, who were all white, to help them understand the struggle Dr. King was involved in, which ultimately cost him his life.

In her exercise, she poses two groups against the other; one group represents people of color (brown-eyed participants) and one group represents white people (blued-eyed participants). Jane Elliot then has the brown-eyed group partner with her as she subjects the blue-eyed group to the reality of American racism as experienced historically by America’s non-white citizens. It was very surprising to see the level of anger and frustration exhibited by the Blue eyed participants as Jane treated them with contempt and disrespect, even though they had been forewarned and knew it was a staged exercise. For me, it had the effect of validating my own experiences in a new way. The experiment showed me how mentally disruptive even small doses of racism could be on its victims in less than 30 minutes, not to mention its potential impact when endured for over 400 plus years. I always knew that Black people were strong, but it was illuminated in a whole new way as I watched people buckle under weights I carried as a child; weights that only got heavier with the increased gravity that comes with age and the responsibilities of life. It reinforced the belief I have that if all men are created equal, then there are external forces creating the large disparities seen throughout American society.

The impetus of racism is the need to justify a system of oppression. Ta-Nehisi Coates in an article from “The Atlantic” quotes David Blight, A Yale Professor, on the subject of The Civil War and Reconstruction. Blight says that at the maturation of Slavery in America it was the largest financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth upwards of $3.5 billion, exceeding the profits of all manufacturing and railroads combined. The bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This would explain America’s wicked obsession with oppression as a means to profit. See Ava Duvernay’s “13th” production for a well-documented illustration of this point. Racism is perpetuated in America because oppression is still government policy. How can the poor and oppressed gain equality in a society where law and law enforcement favors the rich? Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is also an American lawyer and Social Justice Activist. Bryan states that in the USA you are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty, than if you are poor and innocent.

If equality in the pursuit of happiness is to become a realization, the epidemic heart disease of greed must be dealt with. Greed is incubated and hatched through selfishness and nourished by fear. Desire infected with greed distorts perception and perverts judgment. The only cure is Love. Love breaks the power of selfishness and eliminates fear. The kind of Love as taught through biblical principles. The love that gives at the expense of self for the benefit of all, contrary to selfishness which takes for the benefit of self without consideration for anyone else. The false dearth created through racism will continue to ravish society, until we all learn to love one another as ourselves. There is but one race, the human race.

[Image is from janeelliott.com]