Appears that Tavis isn’t having any of it.
On Russia TV of all things…The New Black Panthers are Black Radicals and Nationalists.
I’m not convinced folks like Adam Jackson are. Putting them under the same description is a bit of a disservice.
The white-right are a band of Chumph supporters with tactics descended from the KKK, whose tactics include beatings, bombings, murder, and attacking minorities whenever they get a 5 or 10 to one advantage.
During the Civil Rights era, they could commit their crimes safe under the umbrella of local Police, and all-white juries made up of people who shared their beliefs.
They are hoping, the Chumph will bring back their heydays of being unaccountable for their nefarious and often violent actions.
They have also been secure that under MLK’s non-violence based philosophy – no one seriously confronted them with much more than words.
At lunchtime on May 19, 2012, 18 masked men and women shouldered through the front door of the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park, Illinois, a working-class suburb of Chicago. Some diners mistook the mob for armed robbers. Others thought they might be playing a practical joke. But Steven Speers, a stalactite-bearded 33-year-old who had just sat down for appetizers at a white nationalist meet and greet, had a hunch who they were. The gang filing in with baseball bats, police batons, hammers, and nunchucks were members of Anti-Racist Action (ARA) and the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement (HARM), two groups dedicated to violently confronting white supremacists.
“Hey, bitches!” one of the anti-racists shouted before charging Speers’ table. “ARA is going to fuck this place up!”
Speers stood up and warned his seven companions to prepare to fight. His girlfriend, Beckie Williams, who had organized the lunchtime gathering on the white supremacist website Stormfront, grabbed a butter knife. Francis Gilroy, a homeless man who had driven up from Florida to find “work for whites,” as an online ad for the meeting promised, tried to pull the attackers off his companions. Williams was clubbed on the arm. Speers was hit on the head so hard he vomited.
An 80-year-old woman celebrating her granddaughter’s high school graduation at a nearby table was also pushed to the floor. A retired cop who believed he was witnessing a terrorist attack used a chair to knock out one of the masked intruders. That’s when they ran off, dragging their dazed companion.
In less than two minutes, the anti-racists had unleashed a flurry of destruction. A mosaic of smashed glass covered the floor. Blood polka-dotted the ceiling. Three people required medical care.
One group of attackers raced away in a cherry red Dodge Neon. Jason Sutherlin, a 33-year-old with the words “TIME BOMB” tattooed across his knuckles, rode shotgun. His half-brother Dylan drove, and his half-brother Cody, along with their cousin John Tucker, squeezed into the backseat with 22-year-old Alex Stuck, who’d been decked in the restaurant. They sped toward Interstate 80, which would take them home to central Indiana.
An off-duty police sergeant who’d heard a radio call about the attack spotted the Neon and turned on her siren. When she looked inside the parked car, amid the sweaty men she saw a baton, a baseball cap that said “Anti-Racist,” and a black and red scarf spelling out “HARM.” The men were arrested and charged with felony mob action and aggravated battery, which together carried up to seven years behind bars. (Speers and Gilroy were also arrested—Speers for a charge of possessing child pornography.)
Sutherlin and his four compatriots would soon come to be known as the Tinley Park Five. Though they had launched the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement just six months earlier, the attack would make them the public faces of a small yet militant movement that had been waging war on right-wing extremists for decades. HARM was part of Anti-Racist Action, a national group that had spent more than 20 years trying to expose and combat radical right-wing activity with tactics that ranged from counseling kids in neo-Nazi gangs to harassment and physical violence. Most of their actions received little attention, though they occasionally made headlines, like after the 2002 Battle of York, where ARA members attacked a white supremacist march in a Pennsylvania town, or the time in 2009 when pepper-spray-wielding ARA members broke up a New York City speech by the British Holocaust denier David Irving. But mostly, this war was invisible beyond the predominantly white working-class youths caught up in it.
As the election of Donald Trump has ushered white supremacists and their ideas from the fringes to the mainstream, their most militant foes have also come out of the shadows. On Inauguration Day, Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” was punched in the face on a Washington, DC, street corner. The blow was caught on video, spawning countless remixes and a debate over the ethics and efficacy of “Nazi punching.” That same night, a Trump supporter shot and wounded an anti-fascist, or “antifa,” who was protesting a speech by Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington in Seattle. Less than two weeks later, “black bloc” protesters in Berkeley, California, helped force the cancellation of another Yiannopoulos speech, setting fires, smashing windows, and punching a Milo fan. Nationwide, new militant groups like Redneck Revoltare recruiting the next generation of activists who believe that white liberals are not up to the challenge of beating back right-wing extremists. The story of HARM’s rise and fall is a prequel to this moment, and a revealing tale about an underground war that’s been simmering for years and may now be poised to explode.
The seed for HARM was planted in People’s Park, a tangle of trees and footpaths in downtown Bloomington, Indiana, where in 1968 an African American graduate student named Clarence Turner opened a small store called the Black Market. In a state with a long history of white supremacism (in 1925, nearly one-third of all adult white males there belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, and the governor was a sympathizer), the shop celebrated African and African American culture by selling dashikis and Malcolm X speeches. A few months after it opened, two Klan members firebombed it on Christmas. “This will not be an open season on niggers,” Turner shouted during a rally in front of the ashen skeleton of his shop.
By the 1990s, People’s Park had become a hangout spot for punks, ravers, hippies, petty drug dealers, and college kids looking to score. It was there around 1996 that Jason Sutherlin met Telly, another teen from a nearby town. Telly introduced Sutherlin to Nomad, a hulking, half-Puerto Rican tattoo artist. (These names are aliases that they asked me to use to avoid being targeted by white supremacists; the investigation into the Tinley Park assaults is ongoing.) Long before they would become leaders of the local anti-racist movement, the three teens “chased the same cute punk girls,” Sutherlin recalls. “At first, they were my competition, but then we became pals.”
The trio shared a love of hip-hop and punk and a hatred for bullies. It was at house parties and concerts that they got their first introduction to Indiana’s numerous white supremacist gangs—specifically, the Hammerskins and the Vinlanders Social Club. Sutherlin recalls attending a show where a Hammerskin stabbed a Latino kid. At another show, concertgoers tried to kick out a group of neo-Nazis, one of whom fired a gun into the air. (More recently, three Vinlanders nearly beat a homeless black man to death in Indianapolis in 2007.) Sutherlin was shocked by the neo-Nazis’ boldness, but he was just as impressed by how the older punks stood up to them. “That culture of not taking any shit seeped into my consciousness.”...Read the Rest Here…
The old, “You’ve started an organization to cure AIDs. AIDs is a disease. People die from cancer, too. You are irresponsible, because you started an organization to cure AIDs and not all diseases.” “logic”.
The following is a chart of the abortion rate in the US from 1960 to today. The number of abortions, and the rate have dropped half since 1980. The birth rate has also dropped.
So whatever happened, including the impact of single focused anti-abortion groups is impacting both the number and rate of abortion in America by pushing the number downward. Quite possibly because the groups both for and against have focused on things specifically affecting the decision to abort – such as education, contraception, and morals…
And not stop smoking, limiting exposure to carcinogenic substances, and wearing sunscreen.
Why exactly is that such a Sisyphean climb of intellect for those opposed to BLM to grasp?
Second, the very same folks who are “pro-life”, don’t give a damn about the substantially higher rates of pre- and post natal deaths of black children due to lack of, or discriminatory medical care. Which kills something on the order of 100,000 black babies a year. Obamacare is one of the ways to help fix that. But the “pro-life” types in their tri-cornered hats and neo-confederate flags aren’t interested in saving those babies. They seem quite happy they die. You will never see a discussion of that inconvenient number in any of their literature, or discussions about abortion.
Neonatal mortality rates vary by race and ethnicity. Based on preliminary data for 2009, the neonatal mortality rate among infants born to Black women (including Hispanics) was 8.20 per 1,000 live births, more than twice the rate among infants born to non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women (3.43 and 3.62 per 1,000, respectively).
This is a map of neonatal mortality rates…
The states with the highest rates of neonatal fatalities, also have black neonatal mortality rate 2 to 2.5 times higher than for white. The same “Bible Belt” with the strongest “Pro-life” movements…
Are also the ame states where a black child has the lowest chance of surviving pre and post neonatal.
Think about it. This one goes under “American Genocide”.
Don Carey is a defensive back from Grand Rapids in his fifth season with the Lions. He will be offering commentary in the Free Press during the season.
Hey, everyone! I hope your day is going well. Before we begin, I’d like to thank you all for the responses to my first column on the culture we live in. I know that it was a bit heady, but I believe that it was necessary to properly portray my message. As we move forward, if there are any topics you’d like me to address (within, reason of course), please feel free to submit them to me via twitter: @DonCarey.
OK, let’s get into the meat of today. Recently, my colleague Richard Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, made some statements in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement, with which I completely concur. Sherman’s point was that “if black lives matter, then they should matter all the time.” I do, however, see that there is a slight difference between “black-on-black” crime and the brutalities committed against African-American people by several police officers. Nevertheless, his words still ring true.
I personally have some concerns in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. I remember when this movement burst onto the scene several years ago. I was both enamored and repelled by its message. Enamored, because as an African-American man, I have experienced and seen injustices committed against my people, sometimes due to no fault of their own. For the first time that I can remember, it seemed someone was standing up for them on a national level. However, I was quickly turned off by this movement due to the narrow mind-set and irony that exists at its roots. Let me explain my meaning.
According to a study by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, more African-American babies were aborted (31,328) in New York than were born (24,758) there in 2012. Needless to say, this number is severely repulsive. Yet, we’ve heard nothing from those within the camp of Black Lives Matter on the subject. It seems that we have Matthew 7 dilemma. That is, we are so focused on the speck in eyes of others that we are ignoring the plank within our own. We are so focused on the injustices done by a few wayward police officers that we ignore the blatant disregard for life within our own culture.
I truly want this movement to flourish. I can easily see the Black Lives Matter movement being the catalyst behind moral and cultural change within the African-American community. However, I fear this will never happen unless those within this movement begin to embrace the totality of its name. Yes “black” lives matter. This also includes those still within the womb. Those who seek change must first be proponents of that change or else those on the outside looking in will ultimately view them as hypocrites.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?
Yeah…I got a problem with this. Putting Freddy Gray, a victim of out of control police violence in Baltimore next to Martin Luther King seems a bit of appropriation that just doesn’t belong here. Martin developed a philosophy, moved a nation with his words, and fought against the forces of Jim Crow oppression, and ultimately gave his life. He stood up, knowing exactly the extent to which racist forces in America would go, suffering imprisonment and beatings for the simple act of non-violent resistance, and ultimately being murdered. Gray was a street kid and a drug dealer. Which doesn’t make his murder right at the hands of Baltimore Cops…But he “ain’t no hero” in terms of what he may or may not have accomplished while alive. He is a small part of a black community which suffers in small part due to his illicit acts.
Injustice in this case was a purely personal event.
Seems folks worry more about the racial background of a few folks working to end this type of injustice…Than the fact those folks are working for the betterment of the entire American community.
And no – I am not buying into the black-on-black crime racist meme – because all crime in a largely segregated America is intra-racial. Crime is more a statement of opportunity, than any wall painted large of cultural or racial dysfunction. The most dangerous thing for the BlackLivesMatter movement is an identification with the victim, instead of a disgust and opposition to the crime, and it ever happening again. I don’t think (and I hope) that is any secret to the folks at BlackLivesMatter.
The streets are quiet tonight in West Baltimore. I’m in the backseat of a car on a ride-along with two Baltimore City police officers in late May, nearly a month after the riots following the death of Freddie Gray. There have been 26 murders this month to date, a number that will leapfrog to 43 before May draws to a close.
The media is calling this a “surge in violence” and touting theories to account for the spike, everything from officer apathy to a plethora of looted prescription drugs flooding the market and causing gang violence, but tonight the streets of West Baltimore are largely deserted. We see one group of young men hanging on a corner and a few kids pedaling around on bikes, but otherwise it’s eerily quiet.
I’ve come on this ride-along because I want to see for myself what’s happening on the streets in the wake of the riots. Many of stories told by the media have sympathized either with the protesters or with the police, thus setting up an “us versus them” dynamic that feels reductive.
I don’t buy into this good guy/bad guy type of narrative. I don’t believe that the majority of the rioters were bad people or that the majority of police officers are bloodthirsty brutes. What I believe is that most of the rioters were good people engaging in bad behavior and that most of the police are good officers doing the best they can while working in deeply flawed system, a system that revolves around the “War on Drugs,” a system that targets poor, black neighborhoods.
We ride by the burned-out CVS and the boarded-up buildings. We slow down next to the huge mural that has been painted on the side of a row house in Sandtown-Winchester, close to the spot where Freddie Gray was first arrested. Two chimney-like structures divide the mural into three panels. In the center is a huge painting of Freddie Gray’s face; on the left Martin Luther King Jr. is depicted marching with a group of protesters, and on the right, Freddie Gray’s family also marches.
We all stare at the mural in silence for a moment. It reminds me of the statue that towers outside of Baltimore’s Penn Station, which features two bisecting body profiles, one male and one female. Baltimoreans either love or hate this polarizing piece of art. Whenever I look at it, I both understand it and question it, which is the same way I felt when the riots occurred.
The riots made no sense to me and yet, they made perfect sense. For years, I’ve heard stories from young, black men about their experiences with the cops — young men who have been pulled over without cause, who have been illegally searched, who have been spoken to disrespectfully. Some have been physically assaulted.
I have also been witness to some of these acts on a handful of ride-alongs that I went on several years ago with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). I went with the goal of writing about the fraying relationship between the BPD and the black community, but every time I tried to put pen to paper, the task felt impossibly complex.
On one of the ride-alongs, I watched a car full of young black men dressed in bright polo shirts and cocked ball caps get pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The driver of the vehicle handed over his license and explained that he was a college student, and that he and his friends were on their way to meet some friends.
The young man was polite and respectful, but it was easy to see that getting pulled over like this was not a new experience for him. There was a lilting impatience in his voice, the slightest tinge of angry exasperation that he attempted to keep tucked away. After the young man answered a few questions, the officers let him off without issuing any sort of traffic citation.
I remember watching him drive off and wondering what he would do with the remnants of that anger that he’d kept so neatly tucked beneath those polite answers. I have long wondered where that young man and all the others like him put their anger over this kind of degradation.
But I stopped wondering on the day of the riots; when I saw the images of young people lobbing bricks, stomping on cars and looting stores. There, I thought, the anger is right there.
The riot was a release. A giant exhale on a long held breath that has been waiting for the proverbial arc of justice to bend toward it.
“He shouldn’t be up there with Martin Luther King,” one of the officers finally says of the Freddie Gray mural, a note of disgust in his voice.
These officers, one Caucasian, one Hispanic, knew Freddie Gray long before the media ever uttered his name. At the station where we started the night, there were photographs of Gray hanging on the wall. In the photos, he was surrounded by a posse of baby-faced young men who mugged for the camera. In one picture, Gray held up his middle finger. There were handwritten numbers above the head of each of the young men and below a list of names that corresponded with the numbers.
When these officers look at this larger-than-life mural with Gray in the center, they see a drug dealer next to the greatest civil rights leader of all time and they can’t seem to make sense of that.
“Put that little girl up there. McKenzie. Not him,” the officer says.
He is referring to 3-year-old McKenzie Elliot, who was killed in a drive-by shooting last August. “Why weren’t there riots for her? That, I would understand.”
McKenzie Elliot and Freddie Gray — the former was presumably killed by drug dealers (although nobody has been arrested despite the fact that the crime occurred in front of multiple witnesses), the latter indisputably died in police custody….More…
In this article, John McWhorter attempts to present the idea that since Mike Brown was not a perfect victim, the BlackLIvesMatter, and majority social construct (ergo – “Hands UP, Don’t Shoot”) built around the incident are lies. While recognizing the the issue is structural racism MvWheenie doesn’t quite fit Tab A into Slot B, that there could possibly be some sort of causal relationship between the two.
It is neither true that Officer Wilson set out that morning to murder someone, or that Michael Brown planned he confrontation which led to his death. Michael Brown was not “perfect” – but niether was Rosa Parks or the first several volunteers who were evaluated to challenge segregation in Montgomery.
What is true is that fear, on Brown’s part driven by friends and neighbors interactions with a racist Police Force, and on Wilson’s part by the community’s justifiable resentment and acts of defiance – as well as the proven racist atmosphere within the department, placed the two on a tragic collision course. The black community immediately recognized the disease. They had seen this movie many, many times before. There are a lot of Fergusons out there.
The beauty of Cell Phones and YouTube and other social media sites is it,if not destroys the historical “Police Bias” subjectivity – reduces it to a manageable level. Remember, in the Michael Brown case – and the following half dozen or so cases – the Policemen involved were mechanically, automatically exonerated by the prevailing authorities.
Perhaps Mr McWhorter should get one.Soft pedaling racism, is still racism.
While many in this country refuse to accept the truth about what happened in Ferguson, it did at least start a much needed conversation about policing.
A year after Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, Missouri, we can celebrate that this hideous incident has sparked the first genuine debate about black America’s relationship with the police.
However, there is a certain irony as well, in that our initial take on Ferguson has proven to be a myth.
Edison did not invent the lightbulb, Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake,” Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned—and Darren Wilson did not shoot Mike Brown in the back with his hands up, and Brown did reach into Wilson’s car and try to take his gun. No reasonable person, even with the deepest concern about the cops and black America, can deny the findings of the Department of Justice’s report on the incident.
Yet a great many people don’t want to let the myth go. “Mike Brown,” as an utterance and as a meme, has become a totem for the role of racism in post-Civil Rights American life, and that totemic status requires a basic assumption that the main lesson of what happened between Wilson and Brown was that an innocent boy ran up against a white cop’s racist animus.
Black journalist Jonathan Capeheart was viciously flamed on Twitter for urging us to accept the Department of Justice report’s findings. I recently overheard a conversation between two working-class black men, one about 60 and the other about 40. One said “Now, anybody who says there’s no racism is just crazy. All they have to do is look around. Mike Brown, man, that was it right there.” The other man readily agreed. That exchange is hardly untypical. The New Yorker’s piece on Ferguson is committed to drawing a lesson about racism from the story despite the Department of Justice report–its title could be “But Still.”
There is good news and bad news here.
First, the good news. History is being made despite that what sparked it turned out to have been a misimpression. In the grand scheme of things, the progress is more important. If Ray Tensing had casually shot Sam Dubose dead just three years ago, it is likely that the case would never have gotten beyond local news. It is also likely Tensing would not already have been arrested.
The issues of punitive fines and jail sentences connected to them have become part of a nationwide conversation after the Department of Justice’s revelations of the grisly, racist policing practices in Ferguson.
This is big. Black Americans’ sense of racism as a defining feature of black life is based primarily on the police. When incidents such as the deaths of Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, and Sam Dubose are no longer a norm, America will have turned a corner on race in the way that so many wish would happen.
But now the bad part. One senses that for many people, to truly face squarely that what happened in Ferguson was not what we were initially told would be to let go of some kind of opportunity. That opportunity would seem to be, judging from columns like Charles Blow’s this week and the New Yorker piece on Darren Wilson, that changing how cops relate to black men will require white America to internalize a lesson about how racism infects how black people are perceived, and also determines black people’s life chances structurally, as it is often put. In this light, people seem to almost need, or even want, Wilson to serve as the bad white person and Brown to serve as the good black one.
However, if the idea is to teach white America this lesson, historians may be perplexed in 100 years that we were so focused on the Ferguson case when Tamir Rice and John Crawford were simply shot dead in cold blood, and Walter Scott and Sam Dubose were shot dead for trying to flee from arrest for petty misdemeanors.
More to the point, there is an issue of pragmatics we must face. White America is, quite simply, not going to internalize a lesson about racism from the story of a boy who had just stolen from a convenience store who then refused an officer’s order and later tried to take his gun. Some may suppose that the very complexity of this case makes it a better lesson than the simpler ones, in possibly teaching whites that black lives must be valued even amidst imperfect behavior. (A common criticism of those who question Brown’s behavior is “So you have to have a perfect victim?”)
But folks, it’s not going to work. I say that as a writer who has received more angry mail for my statements supporting the Ferguson protesters than I have ever gotten in my 15 years of writing on race—and given my “controversial” politics I have obviously been no stranger to hate mail from all over the spectrum. Yes, ex-cops, but also grandmothers, expatriates, people in prison, accountants, you name it. I have even gotten a lot of actual physical letters—rare these days—with sometimes several pages of urgent handwriting. For a great many white Americans, the idea of Ferguson as a lesson about tolerance has stoked an “All right, enough!” sentiment. It just pushes people beyond where we can expect them to go. Wringing hands about that will accomplish precisely the wringing of the hands.
The idea that Ferguson needs to teach America a lesson is a distraction anyway. At the end of day, getting cops to stop killing black people for no reason is a separate mission from getting white people to understand the nuances and power of racism. It’s easy to forget that because the two things are discussed together so often. However, that kind of discussion is idealist—utopian, almost. A flintier sense of our mission is to make it so that cops know that killing black people for no reason will lose them their jobs and put them behind bars.
As to ideas such as Blow’s that people like Wilson’s “historical illiteracy and incuriousness creates the comfortable distance on which pernicious structural racism lies,” the words are gorgeous but the argument less so. In what sense, precisely, does making sure a Michael Slager doesn’t kill a Walter Scott require that Slager become more historically literate and more curious? That’s a highly unusual proposition, and requires careful presentation and defense if anyone beyond a small circle of the converted is to take it seriously….(read the rest here)
Historically the Black Church has been instrumental in advocating and advancing Civil Rights, and was central to organizing the protests and coalescing the voice of black people into actionable agendas.
MLK speaking before Ebenezer Baptist’s Congregation
The question today is, with the fundamental changes within the Black Church, is it possible anymore that the Church may regain it’s mantle as a central platform for the battle for Civil Rights?
Arguing against that is the reality that the Black Church in many places isn’t fully tied to it’s geographic community. As black folks have moved out of Urban areas to the burbs, the communities they have left behind, largely become “Commuter Communities”. Ergo, the expats drive to the old black community for services, whether it is a barbershop or beauty salon, or still maintain an allegiance to the old Church. They likely maintain friendships, or have relatives living in the old community. However, the issues with being black in America’s suburbs, and in the inner city are likely to be quite different.
Second is the fractionation of the community by the very Church which should be bringing it back together. Male participation in the Black Church has dropped to historic lows. Part of that has to do with personality cultism on the part of some male Preachers, part has to do with the belief the church really isn’t interested in the problems of black males, whether that perception is fair or not. An interesting analysis was published last year in the Atlanta Black Star – 6 Reasons Young Black People Are Leaving The Church.
Summed by Tony Carter who serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church in East Point, Georgia.The article suggest the rise in economic opportunities and social progress is making the church irrelevant. Secondly, in an ever-changing digital age, the church appears stagnant, old fashioned, and unattractive. Thirdly, today’s educated black man and woman have less use for faith in an enlightened age where reason and science answer most of their questions. Fourthly, there is a growing discontent among this generation of blacks with biblical passages that seemingly tolerate or advocate for such social ills as slavery and genocide. Fifthly, the church comes off as intolerant, judgmental, and simplistic when it comes to issues of sexual activity, sexual orientation, and living holy in a sexually free society. Lastly, the article suggested that this generation seeks authenticity whereas the black church today gives the impression that everyone has it all together. In other words, black millennials want to stop pretending.
I believe there is another reason. Far too many black churches have adopted a policy of exclusionism, requiring their parishioners to marry or date only people who believe as they do. That just isn’t a formula for long term success. -especially in a society where only about 42% of black women will ever marry.
…Many of today’s black pastors, some young activists argue, have moved away from the black church’s traditional role as a center for African-American mobilization. “Today, what we see is churches being appendages of the kind of status-quo body politic,” said Dayvon Love, 28, director of public policy at the Baltimore think tank and activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “This has happened generally post-integration, post-civil rights. You have cadres of individual back people who get positioned in white-dominated institutions, and their presence is used as a way to deflect from structural change.”
It sounds like a radical critique, but senior clergy have similar concerns. “If you are a church that’s never in ‘good’ trouble with the powers, then you’re probably in bed with the powers,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who holds Martin Luther King Jr.’s former pulpit at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church,told NPR recently. “We’re doing precious little to actually dismantle the American prison-industrial complex, which is the new Jim Crow.”
To be sure, the protest tradition is alive and kicking in some Baltimore churches. Just last month, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple, led a group that briefly shut down a major highway into the city during the morning rush hour to denounce plans for a new juvenile jail.
And the Rev. Ron Owens, a former pastor who organized the Freddie Gray funeral, bristles at the notion that local clergy have been co-opted by the powers that be.
The same group of pastors who led the funeral and the march through the riot were instrumental in getting the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a full-blown investigation of Baltimore police, Owens said. In the week after the riot, Owens said, the group requested meetings with Justice Department officials and held separate sessions with the department’s civil rights chief, Vanita Gupta, and with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
But Owens said it’s fair to say that such action should have come sooner, and that Baltimore clergy were previously silent on the issue of policing abuses -– even though some had experienced the problem personally. Owens himself recalled a police officer pulling him over and asking why he drove such a nice car. The Freddie Gray case has served as a wake-up call, Owens said.
“I’m glad that the alarm clock has sounded,” Owens said. “I’m the first to say that we were asleep.”…
Pastors who find the critique of co-optation too radical say another charge weighs more heavily: that they have become disengaged from the communities that surround them.
The Rev. Melvin Russell is assistant pastor at Baltimore’s New Beginnings Ministries. But his day job is as a lieutenant colonel in the Baltimore Police Department, where he leads the community partnership division. “When I was coming up,” Russell said, “the churches were community churches. We’re no longer community churches. We have devolved into commuter churches.”
And gaps between congregants and neighborhoods have political consequences, said Michael Leo Owens, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta who has studied urban black churches. “Many of the people who we could argue are most affected by some of the problems that we see with something like, say, the Baltimore Police Department are folks that are not in the pews of these churches,” he said. “So there’s this tremendous disconnect.”
Russell previously served as commander of Baltimore’s Eastern police district, where he pushed hard for residents and community leaders -– including clergy –- to engage directly with people involved in drugs and crime. His message to the church, Russell said, was that they had failed.
“You’ve can’t have a church in a community and at the same time have an open-air drug market right outside the church,” he said. “Something’s wrong with that picture as far as I’m concerned.”
The recent spate of violence has prompted actions that Russell should like: Bryant, the pastor who led last month’s highway shutdown, has announcedthat clergy and other volunteers will patrol hot spots of violence on weekend nights this summer. Bryant also promised midnight basketball tournaments and a Father’s Day march to highlight the violence.
Meanwhile, Hickman is turning Southern Baptist Church church into a center for community redevelopment, building senior housing and other amenities for his East Baltimore neighborhood.
“Politicians and bureaucrats have ignored the church as a community stakeholder and developer and looked for others to come in and save the city,” he said. “But I believe that the church is the ideal place to start with what should happen within the community.”…(more)
In the end analysis, I believe the answer is probably not. The big reason in my mind is that the Black Community in America has changed so radically (geographically, economically, and in vision). The second is that advancing Civil Rights in this day and age involves the exercise of Political power. The simple fact is, black politicians have dropped the ball largely in knee-jerk fighting flash fires, or focusing on the wrong problems. In my view the 42 black Congressmen sitting on the Hill are probably the most useless excuses for elected officials in the country. They have been utterly co-opted. I really find it hard to believe that 20% of the elected official in Congress can’t use the parliamentary tricks commonly used by Republicans to add riders to Bills which advance the cause. If there is some sort of lucid strategy there…
I certainly don’t see it.
If you go back and do some research on how the Civil Rights movement was strategized, and planned – you will find a group of individuals who laid out a practical strategy and executed it ruthlessly. It took a lot more than organizers or politicians showing up on the front steps of 1st Baptist mouthing their slippery/slithery support.
In the end this is why I think the grass roots organizations rising up around “Black Lives Matter” are a far more effective tool.