Black Lives Matter

Accountability. And systemic Reformation.

May 29, 2020

Cartoon: Edward Littleford


“God is looking down on humans right now thinking, “Damn. Maybe I should try dinosaurs again?”
-Conan O’Brien


[John Oliver discusses the systems in place to investigate and hold police officers accountable for misconduct.]

Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation

A powerful example of five conversions at work is The Poor People’s Campaign, which was revived in 2018 by the Rev. Dr. William Barber II and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. [1]  In these paragraphs, Theoharis offers a scriptural exploration of what the Kingdom of God implies for the poor and marginalized—a movement of solidarity.

The New Testament . . . portrays the survival struggles of the marginalized, the solidarity and mutuality among different communities, and the critique of a social, political, and economic system that oppresses the vast majority of people. . . .  Jesus’s teachings and actions around poverty, wealth, and power create a picture of him as a leader of a social, political, economic, and spiritual movement calling for a world without poverty, want, or oppression . . . what he named the Kingdom or Empire of God. . . . 


The Greek word for “Kingdom of God” or “Empire of God,” basilea,  has much to do with the economic order that Jesus advocated. Few would disagree that the Kingdom of God is central to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. However, many understand this kingdom as otherworldly and immaterial. But if we look at both the prevalence of the concept and the specific references to it in the New Testament, we can see that God’s kingdom is a real, material order, with a moral agenda different from and opposed to the reigning order of the day. The basilea is particularly present in the parables that describe how the reign of God functions differently from the Roman Empire: in God’s kingdom, there is no poverty or fear, and mutuality exists among all.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus’s parables and stories paint a picture of a reign in which the poor and marginalized are lifted up and their needs are met, rather than being despised or ignored by those in control. . . . to model a community of mutuality and solidarity. . . .

Centuries of [New Testament] interpretation have attempted to spiritualize or minimize this good news for the poor, hiding the reality that the Bible is a book by, about, and for poor and marginalized people. It not only says that God blesses and loves the poor, but also that the poor are God’s agents and leaders in rejecting and dismantling kingdoms built upon oppression and inequality.

[1] The Poor People’s Campaign was first established by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in 1968 to encourage leaders and citizens across the nation to stand in solidarity with the poor.

Image Credit: Paulo Freire (detail), Centro de Formação, Tecnologia e Pesquisa Educacional (CEFORTEPE), SME-Campinas, Campinas, Brazil.

‘Promising us a roof and then breaking that promise might be worse than no roof at all.’

-Seth Godin


Senator Bernie Sanders:

“What gives me hope right now are the new generations of young people who dream big and do not want to settle for the status quo.”

President Barack Obama:

George Floyd, 46

George Floyd moved to Minnesota “to be his best self,” as one friend put it.



“We hold the mystery of transformation…’

April 13, 2018

Richard Rohr, American Franciscan friar and author

”Being on the edge of the inside…”

“Your body is not an isolated, separate entity. We are our truest selves only in community—with our ancestors (carrying their stories and DNA), our natural environment, and our neighbors. We hold the mystery of transformation…”

Today Barbara Holmes continues reflecting on the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLMM) and their evolving, embodied way of fighting for justice:

As the millennials will tell you, “This is not your grandmother’s Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

”They are right. Although both the CRM and BLMM seek the betterment of life for black people and their communities and both resist oppression with contemplative practices and activism, they use different strategies and leadership models and seek different goals. . . .

The BLMM is a decentralized network of local organizations. . . . Patrisse Cullors, a founder of the BLMM, says, “We are not leaderless, we are leader-full.” [1] . . . It is difficult to infiltrate, undermine, or disrupt an organic movement that draws its power from regenerating communal cells. . . .

During the CRM, the blindness of dominant culture to the plight of the African American community meant that the message had to be delivered by one voice in language that white Americans could understand and support. Lives were at stake, and [Martin Luther] King’s biblical and patriotic references combined with his soaring oratory ignited the nation and inspired the movement.

Now, fifty plus years after the CRM, another approach is needed, and the BLMM like the LGBTQIA justice movements are updating the art of contemplative confrontation and noncompliance with the status quo . . . oppression and violence against black bodies. Today, the most respectable image that young protesters can offer is their authenticity, resolute voices, and pride in community and culture. . . . The BLMM uses disruption for transformation rather than the predictable politeness and political compromises that were part of the ordinary negotiations of social activists. . . .
They block traffic and refuse to allow “business as usual.” The response is not riot or violence, it is the twenty-first-century version of the sit-in. CRM activists got parade permits and stayed along the side of the road so as not to interfere with traffic. BLM activists “shut it down” with song, putting their bodies on the line. . . .

BLM activists are not singing “we shall overcome,” they are not saying “I am yet holding on” or “making a way out of no way” like the church mothers and fathers of old. They are saying “we ain’t gonna stop ‘til our people are free” and “I can’t breathe,” as they shut down malls and highways to stop the killing of young black men and women. [Far too often, by the very officers who are supposed to “protect and serve,” I might add.]


Black Panther

March 17, 2018

5 Lessons From Black Panther That Can Save Our Lives and Transform Politics

by Frank Leon Roberts, New York University


1) Radical Collectivity and Revolutionary Empathy

2) Intergenerational Wisdom

3) Resotrative Justice

4) The Women Shall Lead The Way

5) The Ancestors Are Always With Us


Full Article:

BLM – A Focus on Policy

May 11, 2017

[Washington Post]

By Janell Rosee & Wesley Lowery 

In recent years, policing has been among the nation’s most visible issues as people outraged by use of force and racial disparities in punishment took to the streets under the “Black Lives Matter” banner. But activists say the movement’s efforts have entered a new phase — one more focused on policy than protest — prompted by the election of President Trump.

“What people are seeing is that there are less demonstrations,” said Alicia Garza, one of three women credited with coining the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. “A lot of that is that people are channeling their energy into organizing locally, recognizing that in Trump’s America, our communities are under direct attack.”


Activists say they’re no less aware of those statistics than in years past. But like most of the political left, they were stunned by Trump’s electoral victory in November. And in the months since, they’ve grappled with the role of an antiracism movement at a time when political threats to other groups — immigrants, Muslims and women — have gained urgency and pushed more progressives into the streets in protest.

In interviews, more than half a dozen leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement said that last year’s presidential election prompted renewed focus on supporting other minority groups as well as amassing electoral power to fight an administration that has pledged to roll back Obama-era efforts to reshape policing practice. Those leaders — who hail from various factions of the decentralized movement of individuals and organizations that have, at times, clashed — said the reality of Trump’s presidency has forced a reconsideration of strategy.

“There was a lot of regrouping that had to happen within our movement and on the broader left to really think strategically,” said Asha Rosa, the national organizing co-chair for the Black Youth Project 100.

Contradictions of White Privilege

January 29, 2016


‘This Song Is Uncomfortable’

“White Privilege II”

Ben Haggerty/Macklemore: I was in Seattle. And it starts there. It starts with that moment of observing police brutality happening, again, with no accountability — and me stepping into a protest with a lot of baggage, feeling out of protest shape, when there’s this moment of injustice and I am feeling so compelled that I need to do something, yet also stepping into that space in my own head of, “Should be here? Is there something that I’m going to get called out for, being here? Am I going to distract more than actually do any good by being present here?” And all of these questions that I had.

Jamila Woods: Yeah, I think hearing that verse was one of the most intriguing parts of the song to me. The protests I’ve attended, I’ve seen and experienced some tension between white activists, or even [just] white people attending protests, who don’t necessarily have a moment of introspection — who maybe are just taking up airtime, you know, destroying things or just doing things that are distracting from what the protest is actually for. To me, I feel like it’s an important thing not to just consider yourself an ally by showing up, but to really investigate what your role can be in a productive way. And that comes from authentically engaging with the people — the black people — who are leading the protest.

“Why can’t it be All Lives Matter?”

September 2, 2015


Beautiful audio essay from Chenjerai Kumanyika who is an ‘artist, activist and scholar who holds an assistant professorship in Clemson University’s department of communication studies and a creative professorship in the College of Architecture, Art and Humanities. His January 2015 article on whiteness and public radio voice, published at Transom, was featured at NPR, The Washington Post and Buzzfeed, and spawned a nationwide discussion on diversity and voices in public media’

NPR/All Things Considered

Where was Hillary?

July 21, 2015


From the Netroots Nation website:

Netroots Nation stands in solidarity with all people seeking human rights

“Netroots Nation stands in solidarity with all people seeking human rights.

With today’s Town Hall, our aim was to give presidential candidates a chance to respond to the issues facing the many diverse communities represented here.

Although we wish the candidates had more time to respond to the issues, what happened today is reflective of an urgent moment that America is facing today.

In 2016, we’re heading to St. Louis. We plan to work with activists there just as we did in Phoenix with local leaders, including the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to amplify issues like racial profiling and police brutality in a major way.

It is necessary and vital to continue this conversation. We look forward to doing so in the coming year.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley wanted to speak, we’re trying to speak, and your audience wouldn’t let them.  They hackled, harassed and disrespected them.  Bernie Sanders has done more Civil Rights than any other candidate combined.  He organized anti-segragationn sit-ins in the ’60’s…he helped and campaigned for Jesse Jackson when he ran for president in the late ’80’s.  And where was Hillary?  After two days to reflect she responds through the Washington Post saying that it’s more than ‘economic inequality.’  OK…so why wasn’t she there expressing her message?  Because Hillary doesn’t do anything she can’t control – – she knew, and was most likely advised as to how this event would play out and didn’t participate.  Sanders and O’Malley tried and weren’t give than grace, or the space, to speak.  One of the leaders from Netroots Nation, Ashley Yates, admitted in an interview on MSNBC last night that the response these two candidates were given was orchestrated two weeks ago – – they didn’t have a chance.

From a post on Netroots Nation fb page:
Cole Shores: “Every American deserves a voice… except when they are invited on your stage as a guest. It doesn’t matter if someone is black, white, blue, purple, green, yellow, or aqua… it is all PEOPLE. Feel the Bern – – Bernie Sanders 2016 is the only guy you have running trying to help people with an actual course of action. How your organization treated him as a guest is disgusting.”

Here’s what happened in Phoenix Saturday night:

Martin Davis:  Are We There Yet?



‘Real Questions for Presidential Hopefuls’

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