Posted on: 09/28/11:

The Troy Davis Dilemma

Category: Social
Posted by: AWilkes
The State of Georgia executed Troy Davis on September 21st at 11:08pm. Twitter activity subsequently mushroomed, yielding three Davis related trends — #RIPTROYDAVIS, #DearGeorgia, and #JusticeSystem. This post from Nightline anchor Terry Moran was frequently re-tweeted:

Questions abound. If we begin with a common political science definition of government as the monopoly of legitimate coercion — and our general acceptance of police, taxes, and the like suggest that we do — we might further ask: Under what circumstances can coercion be legitimately exercised? Is capital punishment a legitimate exercise of force?

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Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
A Right to Life for the Living
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study employed Eunice Rivers as an outreach coordinator for more than thirty years. Her role, as an African-American nurse, was to gain and maintain the trust of black men targeted by the study. She helped ensure that they did not seek the widely available, highly effective medical care that they critically needed to treat their syphilis, because if they received penicillin they would disrupt the study's goal of observing the disease's devastating course of blindness, madness and physical decay.

Georgia's largest antiabortion group, Georgia Right to Life, is employing a similar strategy. Catherine Davis is its Eunice Rivers. As outreach coordinator for the predominantly white group, this black woman is traveling to black churches and colleges decrying abortion as a genocidal conspiracy against African-Americans and encouraging black women not to exercise their legal right to obtain the healthcare of their choice.

The Tuskegee study was initiated in the rural South during a period of great economic distress. It preyed on vulnerable communities with few medical resources and little political power. It employed a cynical racist strategy of encouraging black compliance by deploying black spokespeople to claim that the study's efforts were in the best interests of African-Americans.

Georgia Right to Life has revived this racial masquerade by portraying its opposition to reproductive rights as a campaign for racial justice. This is a potentially effective strategy because it taps into the troubling legacy of eugenics-inspired efforts to broaden birth control access and legalize abortion. Family planning pioneer Margaret Sanger was a eugenics proponent who sought to reduce birthrates among the poor, the disabled and racial and ethnic minorities. State-enforced involuntary sterilization was a common practice in the United States until the 1960s. Southern doctors routinely performed hysterectomies without consent; civil rights organizer Fannie Lou Hamer was the victim of one of these "Mississippi appendectomies." Moreover, black families and children are often labeled deviant, pathological, potentially criminal and burdensome to taxpayers. In a country that glorifies large white families, it feels as though few celebrate or encourage the birth of black children. Given this ugly history, it is easy for many to believe racialized antichoice appeals like the Georgia Right to Life billboards asserting Black Children Are an Endangered Species.

But if black children are endangered, the reasons are far more complicated than those billboards suggest. If these conservative organizations are really concerned about creating and maintaining a robust black birthrate, then they will have to buy space for some additional billboards. They could start with a billboard that says, Poverty Is Genocide. Black babies are more than twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday. Maternal poverty, inadequate nutrition and insufficient prenatal care are the key contributors to black infant mortality.

They need a billboard declaring Inadequate Education Is Genocide. Black children are significantly more likely to live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty and residential segregation and, therefore, to attend schools with inferior resources, lower-quality instructors and larger class sizes. Children in these schools are vastly more likely to drop out, to be arrested, to be the victims of violent crime and to die prematurely.
To read the rest of the article, click here
Posted on: 03/18/10:

Black male privilege?

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Black male privilege is often articulated through the ways in which "Black" is usually shorthand for "Black male," such that discourses about race and racial diversity (particularly in conservative Christian circles) curiously conceal the existence and conditions of Black women, thereby (re)authorizing patriarchical arrangements and sexist practices that, in part, produce Black male privilege!

From NPR's Tell Me More:
But first, we want to talk about black men for a moment because on just about any day, there is some tragic story about black men in the news on the Internet or bandied about at the water cooler. And often those stories are about how black men are mistreated by police or underserved by educators or about how they are falling short in some way. But sociologist LHeureux Lewis, who is himself a black man, has been thinking about and documenting a fresh take on the question of black men and race and power, as a theory that he calls black male privilege.

And if that raises your eyebrows, you are not alone. So, we called him to find out more. Hes - LHeureux Lewis is an assistant professor of sociology at the City University of New York, and he joins us now. Welcome, thank you for joining us.

Professor LHEUREUX LEWIS (Sociology, City University of New York): Thank you for having me on.

MARTIN: So, define black male privilege. Im sure thats a phrase on its face that will get people to sit up and take notice.

Prof. LEWIS: My working definition is really a system of built-in and often overlooked systematic advantages that center the experience and the concerns of black males while minimizing the power that black males hold, which is a fancy way of saying, we are absolutely used to talking about African-American men in crisis. And we can talk about this crisis so much that we miss the ways in which black men are oppressed and can also serve as oppressors.

MARTIN: And when you say privileged, I think generally people think of privilege in relation to whom. So, when you think of privilege, are you speaking relative to someone?

Prof. LEWIS: Absolutely. Black male privilege is first centered as being relative to black women. Im not comparing black males privilege to white male privilege. I think one could argue that, but itd be a very dangerous leap. When we look in the African-American community, there are actually spaces where black men are advantaged and often sometimes dominate a dialogue, when we should be listening more carefully to whats happening with black women equally.

MARTIN: Give an example.

Prof. LEWIS: In particular, if we think about the narrative of mass incarceration, we think about the ways in which black men and black boys have been locked up at increasing rates since the 1980s. While this is true, the fastest growing incarceration rate is particularly among black and Latino women. And because we havent thought seriously about whats happening with black girls and Latino girls, we tend to make the issue of incarceration solely male, and we miss the different ways in which we need to be intervening not just for our young boys, but also our young girls.

MARTIN: Well, give another example then, because I think people would say focusing on those who are even worse off than you doesnt mean youre well off.

Prof. LEWIS: Well, the first time I really came to think about black male privilege was when I was a freshman at Morehouse College. And at that point, there was actually an incident of sexual assault between a Morehouse student and a Spelman student. And what I found quickly were that black men were -instead of actually talking seriously about issues of sexual assault, which are very common in our community, it became a discussion about the ways in which black men become vilified. So, what happens is we often look at issues like domestic violence or sexual assault, and instead of actually dealing with those who are survivors or the victims of it, predominantly African-American women, we re-center it on black men.
To read the rest of the article, click here
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
I Can't Think Of One Religious Reason Against Health Care Reform -- Can You?
By Paul Raushenbush

We are in a critical stage in the health care reform debate and religious people should be weighing in by providing a moral argument in favor of, or against health care reform. Religious leaders should be talking about health care in small groups and in their weekly services in an effort to translate what their sacred texts and inherited traditions say about the issues which confront us in the debate on health care.

From my perspective I cannot think of one religiously based argument against reforming America's health care system. Health care reform is fundamentally about keeping health care costs affordable for those who already have some kind of insurance, and making it available for the millions who do not have it.

Care of our basic well-being is an essential element of religious concern. In my own tradition of Christianity, Jesus was in the practice of healing those who were sick (the roots of the word salvation is connected to healing), and he mandated his disciples to go about the business of healing the sick and providing for the poor. Christians alive today are meant to continue the work of Jesus and be the body of Christ. While we may not have miraculous healing powers ourselves, we do have the ability to make sure that the miraculous healing ability of medicine is available to all who need it.

I honestly hope that someone will correct me about this, but it seems to me that the objections to health care reform always come down to selfishness. People who enjoy good health care are worried that their own care might suffer if it were extended to a wider group, or else they resent that they might have to pay a bit more to allow for health care for the poor. Putting aside the fact that those with money will always be able to buy superior health care, and that insurance companies continue to raise costs on health care annually -- with reform or without it -- the religious objection to these arguments is that they are grounded in making self interest the priority at the expense of the well-being of others. This selfishness is the antithesis of the religious impulse.
To read the rest of the article, click here
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Bill Moyers Journal: Faith and Social Justice

Bill Moyers speaks with Cornel West, Serene Jones, and Gary Dorrien for a fresh take on what our core ethics and values as a society say about America's politics, policy, and the challenges of balancing capitalism and democracy.

Ironically, I was in the audience at Union in NYC earlier this year during the filming of the excerpts at the beginning of the program. Given the recent attention to Calvin's 500th birthday and the Protestant Reformation, here's an interesting discussion by Serene Jones and Bill Moyers:
BILL MOYERS: So I want to ask the three of you from your perspectives. Is it conceivable to you that, as we may be moving into a post racial society, we may be moving into a post-Christian society?

SERENE JONES: I love that term, actually because Christianity could well be its best when it gets completely undone. And Christians who are committed to prophetic presence in the world should be, in one sense, thrilled by the possibility of it being post-Christian.

Because it may mean we're coming to the end of some structures of religiosity that were deadly. You know, in the Protestant Reformation they were calling it the end of Christendom. And what emerged on the other side of it was a completely new form.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that there's sense a hope, now for a new reformation?

SERENE JONES: Oh. It's a fantastic moment to be standing at a seminary. That's one of the reasons why I decided, after 17 years at Yale, to come to New York and be at the helm of this little school. It has a great legacy, but it's not a huge mega university.

It's because, and you can feel it in New York so palpably, but what is happening globally. Change in forms of technology. The breakdown and reconfiguration of the nation state. Forms of economic interaction that have never before been imagined.

And a crisis of knowledge. And a crisis of value. Parallel, in really profound ways, what was happening 500 years ago when this little guy named John Calvin got run out of Paris because he was asking the secular question. They ran him out of Paris. And he ends up in Geneva. And, in the midst of all of that, begins to listen to what's happening in Europe. That's the challenge right now, is for us to listen to what's happening globally and to be able to track the emergent forms of spirit. The emergent forms of organizations. The forms of love and the forms of hope that people are finding on the ground in the midst of these changes and that is going to be sort of the spirituality that's coming. And it's coming fast.
To read the rest of the article, click here

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Once again, Prof. Anthony Bradley over at WorldMag has asked some important questions regarding evangelicalism and race consciousness, especially in light of tons of noose appearances.

He says:
Nooses in Jena, Louisiana, nooses at Columbia University in New York City, and their lingering ancillary protests, reveal that America has yet to recover from centuries of racial tension. Even worse is the fact that American Christianity has little credibility in pointing to the church as a model of social progress in the area of race.

In 1958 Martin Luther King once said, “Unfortunately, most of the major denominations still practice segregation in local churches, hospitals, schools, and other church institutions. It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Is this still true today?

Brutal honesty confesses that not much has changed in evangelicalism since 1958. Sunday morning is segregated, yes, but so is every other day in the lives of most Christians. At 6:00 pm we retreat back to our racially homogenous marriages, families, neighborhoods, and the like, only to reintegrate for work, entertainment, or commerce. Our Sunday associations represent nothing less than those relationships we choose to enjoy throughout the week.

America confuses institutional diversity with relational diversity. The races tolerate each other at work or school because our private lives are designed for affinity associations, “people like me.” Many Christian parents say, “We’re not racist” until their blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter starts dating a man of Mexican descent, or even worse for some, a black family discovers that their Ivy-league son is courting a white female classmate.

Good complaints are made about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton but where are the evangelical leaders, of all races, publicly demanding airtime and offering an alternative vision when conflict arises? We should have no expectations that American culture will advance in her race consciousness until the church embodies the implications of our common anthropology expressed in the Gospel lived out in local community life.
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX

In the last few weeks, there has been a serious outbreak of noose incidents all over the country. Just last week, a noose was placed on the Black professor’s door at Columbia University. Previously, “In July, a noose was left in the bag of a black Coast Guard cadet aboard a cutter. A noose was found in August on the office floor of a white officer who had been conducting race-relations training in response to the incident. In early September, a noose was discovered at the University of Maryland in a tree near a building that houses several black campus groups. On Sept. 29, a noose appeared in the locker room of the Hempstead, N.Y., police department, which recently touted its efforts to recruit minorities. On Oct. 2, a noose was seen hanging on a utility pole at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama” (Source). If anyone believes the Jena 6 case/story is blown out of proportion, I think these recent noose sightings serve to demonstrate that, although, we are in a post-civil rights era, we are no where near beyond white supremacist ideologies and acts.

I want to begin by re-examining the all too familiar Jena 6 story. I believe if we truly understand what happened in Jena, this will allow us to put these other recent noose sightings in proper perspective and discover their meaning, even for us.

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Posted on: 09/14/07:

Jena 6 Video

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
A few courageous white cats have put together a helpful film on the horrifying Jena 6 story. It's too bad that we can't get hardly any (prominent) theologians and/or pastors to deal with this issue. Perhaps, a bridge needs to collapse or a plane needs to fly into a building before they speak out and join the protest with gospel boldness?

Related: “Jena 6 and the Noose Epidemic: A Search for True Humanity.”
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderMM

Whether viewed from a doctrinal standpoint or observed for the people, decisions and ideology that form its ranks, reformed believers in America constitute a social and religious community (used loosely). In observation of any religious community, one may ask, “In what way do religious communities make sense?” Who would ask such a question? It would probably be people on the boundary-the boundary between the expectations of the particular community and the expectations which they have of themselves and others.

Some individuals in the reformed tradition of course, feel so secure in this religious community that they do not consciously ask this question. Others feel so alienated from the reformed tradition that they cannot imagine how such a tradition and community can make sense. But many believers who happen to be reformed stand on the boundary: the reformed community attracts them, they may even participate in it; but we also wonder if it makes sense.

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Posted on: 08/17/07:

Jim Crow lives on in America

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Jim Crow lives on in America
By David A. Love

Racism and Jim Crow are alive and well in America. The recent conviction of a black teenager, and the indictment of five others in Jena proves that.

It all started when a black student sought permission from school administrators to sit under the "white tree," a tree at the high school where white students normally gathered. School officials told him to sit where he liked. So, on Aug. 31, 2006, some black students decided to sit under it.

The next day, three white students hung three nooses from the tree, prompting a protest under the tree by the school's black students. Later that day, LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, accompanied by police, told the black students they were making too much of the "prank."

"I can be your best friend or your worst enemy," Walters reportedly told the students. "I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

The school principal had recommended expulsion for the white students who hung the nooses, but the superintendent of schools overruled his decision and gave the white students only three-day suspensions.

Racial tensions heated up, and one of the black students, Robert Bailey Jr., was beaten by a white teen for attending an all-white off-campus party that Bailey reportedly was invited to.

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