The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II with Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and other moral leaders at the US Capitol building on Jan. 9 2017, following a #MoralMarch and protest against the nomination of former Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.
Gracious, eternal, and all wise God; Thou who formed what is out of nothing and called us into being to serve You — You, O Lord, who weigh every nation in the balance of Your own standards:
Today, we acknowledge how great Thou art, the marvelous mystery of Your mercy and the excellence of Your name. Because Your Holy Spirit brings all things to remembrance, breathe on us now, that we might remember how gracious You have been to this nation we call America.
As a nation, we have our faith and frailties, strengths and shortcomings, yet You have allowed grace to be shed upon us. When we have honored Your ways and when we have fallen short, You have been a merciful God. Remind us that the history of this nation is more about Your grace than about our greatness. When we are not where we should be, let us hear and follow what You said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will I forgive their sin, and will I heal their land.”
In our land we need healing. For a land so blessed by grace, there is too much poverty, too much sickness, too many children dying, and too much war. We need a healing. A tax bill that guts government to give a windfall to the wealthiest when income inequality is greater than it has been since the Gilded Age is more than bad policy; it is a symptom of spiritual sickness and a moral malady. We need a healing in America.
In Your word You have said that those who rule the nation must be just, and if we are to please You, we must learn to do justice, care for the fatherless, support the widow, loose the bands of wickedness, pay people what they deserve, care for the sick, the homeless, and the hungry. If we are to please You, we must hope to hear you say, “For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
Trouble the soul of this nation as in the days of Amos so that no one is at ease in Zion. Use our prophetic words and our prophetic actions to remind those in the seats of power that they are not God. Trouble this nation with the voice of concern and the voice of compassion. Make us mindful of the thousands without paths to the pursuit of happiness.
Shake the foundations of our conscience until we cannot help but change our course. Move on us to study war no more. Cause us to live our lives to serve others. Teach us that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness requires justice and hope and help and caring. Expand our morality beyond the narrowness of personal piety into the broadness of public policy. Give us the strength to challenge racism, poverty, unchecked militarism, and ecological devastation.
Empower us with Your Spirit that we might be a nation unto God, not unto fear; show us again that America is only here by your grace.
Show us that grace carries responsibility — that a nation under grace must lead the world, not merely police the world. A nation under grace must care, must remember her past so that she will not be arrogant in her present. A nation under grace must bring the world together and not tear it apart. A nation under grace cannot refer to people as aliens when we all were created with one blood. A nation under grace cannot leave cities decaying and flood victims barely surviving. Grace demands something better than that. So Lord, as you stirred up dry bones in the valley, stir up hope, and stir up righteousness.
Restore the Prophets and the prophetic voices to the land. Revive the spirit of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm, Corretta, Harriet, Rosa, Cinque, Douglass, Dubois, Sojourner, Jordan, Wilkins and Bethune. Call us and challenge us again. Teach even this nation that with all our power and all our resources, we will still have to stand before Your judgment one day. Give us leaders who understand that the purpose of power and influence is to help someone. Grant us a citizenry determined to be yoked together in common humanity. Let us know the only way to a more perfect union is for our laws and policies to reflect Your kind of love.
Let faith be a conviction, not a convenience. Help us, O God, to smooth out every wrinkle in the flag of our common life until we are one nation under God, with one justice system for all, with living wages for all, with quality education for all.
Finally, O Lord, we pray that the mind of the Psalmist will be ours:
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.
Come and see the works of God: He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in Him.
He ruleth by His power for ever; His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves (Ps 66).
We thank You, O God, that Your eyes still behold the nation. We thank You that You still see injustice, You still see poverty. And because You can still see it, these things don’t have the last word. We thank You God that you still see America. You still see our leadership. You know how to bring down the high and lift up the humble. O God, we bless Your name, we lift up every voice, we declare and rejoice that You are still the God of our weary years, the God who is able to bring life out of death. Help us to know as our foreparents sang,
Time is filled with swift transition, naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hope on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
In the name of the Father who sticketh closer than a brother, watches us like a mother, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. AMEN.
The OUR COMMON GROUND Media and Communications round-up of news and events around the globe that impacts and reflects living Black in America.
This week stories and features from @HonoreeJeffers @KyleGriffin @AntheaButler @BlkLibraryGirl @AmbitDiva #wellnesswed
Published weekly each Friday.
|Oct. 16, 2017
America Being Forced to Face Conflict Between its Founding Principles and its Racist Reality
This Charlottesville statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee remains covered in a black cloth since deadly violence by White supremacists last summer. After the defeat of the Confederacy, Lee actually called for unity.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – “Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them, gets its teeth into doctrines and rends them; time reveals the foundations on which any kingdom rests, and eats at those foundations, and it destroys doctrines by proving them to be untrue.” – James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
America, the international global hegemon, the empire – finds itself conflicted. At the crux of this conflict is the fact that for as noble as its founding pretexts are, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” the “grand experiment” of American or Jeffersonian democracy was actually founded on the myth of racism/White Supremacy. Americans, both White and Black have been indoctrinated to believe in the false social construct of race and the false narratives that Whites – Europeans and European Americans are superior to all others in the world, Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism.
So, what we are seeing today play itself out with the Columbus myth, Trump, Charlottesville, DACA and the Dreamers, the Muslim ban and the NFL fiasco, etc. is America being forced to face up to the conflict between its founding principles and its racist reality. Time is catching up to these doctrines and proving them to be untrue.
The late great Dr. Francis Cress Welsing defined racism/White Supremacy as, “The local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as White, whether consciously or subconsciously determined. This system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of activity [economics, education, law, etc]).”
The following are two examples to support the position that the grand experiment of American or Jeffersonian democracy was founded on the myth of racism/White Supremacy.
1) The Virginia Slave Code Act I 1669, “Be it enacted…if any slave resist his master…and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be acompted felony, but the master…be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepense malice…should induce any man to destroy his own estate.” This is the first example that I found where we were relegated to property or what Amiri Baraka called “thingness”.
2) 13th Amendment to the Constitution – Section 1. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This led to the implementation of the convict leasing system as a replacement for slavery. This is brilliantly documented by Douglas Blackmon in his book Slavery By Another Name.
On October 9th, Americans celebrated the traditional “Columbus Day”. According to Steve Kurtz, from Fox News.com, “Columbus Day… is a nationally recognized holiday…It is true that the conquest of the Americas by Europeans, which starts with Columbus, was very ugly, and involved a lot of violence. But that, for better or worse, is how history worked pretty much everywhere for thousands of years. (Though it should be noted a large portion of the deaths of Native Americans was due to disease, not violence–an inevitable consequence of Old World illness in New World soil…) …The point is not to excuse the worst that happened, but to understand it. And to see that it is not the essence of Columbus, but rather part of the times. With all that, there are reasons to celebrate Columbus Day.”
Now, if that’s not Eurocentric nonsense I don’t know what is. According to the LA Times, “Columbus’ landfall ushered in one of the greatest injustices in human history: the wholesale transfer of wealth and lands from native peoples to Europeans; the unprecedented depopulation of vast swaths of the Americas as European diseases reduced native populations by 90%…” From the Eurocentric perspective violent history is celebrated, the death, destruction, rape, slavery and other atrocities committed by Columbus are ignored and he is deified because history is written from the perspective of the victor. That’s why it’s called “his-story”.
This racist logic, this White Supremacist narrative that is clearly articulated in Kurtz’s rationale for honoring Columbus is the same narrative used by Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazi’s supporting the terrorist statutes from the Civil War as paragons of virtue. In this instance it is not that the South won the Civil War. Their racism compels them to protect their whiteness, history and heritage. Their narrative tells us that the statues are supposed to help us understand context and the dynamics of what was happening at the time from their perspective. But, like the Columbus lie, the story is told from the perspective of the oppressor, not the oppressed. They simply want to maintain some semblance of the myth of White Supremacy.
One very simple question, how could Columbus “discover” something when the Arawak people were already there? They are some of the indigenous peoples of the West Indies that Columbus first encountered not “discovered”. That “discovery” lie is the blindness that attends arrogance. That’s the ignorance born out of the false narrative of White-Eurocentric supremacy. I discovered you! Columbus was late, real late, centuries late to the party.
Now to support this ignorance, Kurtz writes, “While there is only limited knowledge of what pre-Columbus America was like…” Really? Try telling Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, author of They Came Before Columbus that his lifetime of work on Olmec civilization in the Americas is limited knowledge. Try telling Dr. Ben, John Henrick Clark, Chancellor Williams and the host of other Black scholars on this history that their life’s work and research is limited knowledge. Kurtz is like Columbus – just because he refuses to recognize it, it must be “limited knowledge” and research.
Kurtz wrote, “While there is plenty to criticize about Columbus…I think this movement (Indigenous People’s Day) is missing the point…History, in fact, is the story of conquest. We may not like it, but it’s our shared heritage.” No sir, that’s the Eurocentric historical perspective…not all historical perspectives begin and end with, we came, we saw, we kicked your butt. That’s the basis of the same lie being told by those who want to fly the Stars and Bars and commemorate the Confederate generals. They continuously tell us “it’s our shared heritage… The point is not to excuse the worst that happened, but to understand it.” Here’s the reality, those neo-Confederates who want to “celebrate their heritage” and “commemorate their ancestors” are celebrating treason and commemorating racists and traitors. Where’s the honor in that?
Most of the post-Civil War statues that were erected in Virginia and Louisiana and other Southern States were not erected to commemorate Confederate Generals. Most of the statues in question were erected as acts of intimidation to terrorize African-Americans and show unified opposition to the movement towards civil rights; not to honor dead “heroes”. In fact, Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate memorials. He wrote in 1869, “I think it wiser…not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.” Lee eventually swore allegiance to the Union and publicly decried southern separatism, whether militant or symbolic. These neo-confederates want to honor a man who did not want to be honored.
So, what we see with the narrative of the Charlottesville race riot and Trump saying that there were good people on both sides is as Dr. Welsing clearly articulated. It is a narrative developed through and supported by patterns of perception, logic (The Lost Cause for example), symbol formation (The flying of the Stars and Bars and these statutes), thought, speech, action (glorifying Columbus w/ a holiday) and emotional response (the Charlottesville riot). It is a White Supremacist narrative that goes all the way back to the Columbus myth and a last-ditch effort by those in 2017 like Steve Kurtz who desperately try to defend the indefensible.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to http://www.wilmerleon.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2017 InfoWave Communications, LLC
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
“Politics: Another Perspective”
Guest: Dr. Wilmer J. Leon
January 21, 2017 :: LIVE 10 pm EST
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Dr. Leon’s Prescription
Greetings, I am still soliciting contributions for the Politics Another Perspective book tour. All contributions are greatly appreciated. The issues with the account have been resolved. To those who have contributed, thank you. Please forward this appeal to your own lists of friends. https://www.gofundme.com/politicsanotherperspective
Saturday, Janaury 21, 2017 ll 10 pm EST
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*On This date in 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in Back communities in America.
The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” On that night, Black slaves and free blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God.
Blacks have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year. It’s been over a century since the first Freedom’s Eve and tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how we got over.” This celebration takes many African American decendants of slaves into a new year with praise and worship. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. To 10 p.m. And ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Some people come to church first, before going out to celebrate, for others, church is the only New Year’s Eve event.
There have been instances where clergy in mainline denominations questioned the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year’s Eve. However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in the Black experience in America.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
“Imagining Ourselves as Agentic: The Great Fallacy”
Guest: Dr. Tommy J. Curry, Professor, Texas A&M University
Philosophy and African American Studies
December 10, 2016 :: LIVE :: 10 pm EST
Join us LIVE Chat and Call-In: http://bit.ly/AgenticCurry
“1) A social cognition theory proposed by Stanford University Psychologist Albert Bandura that views people as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflective and self-regulating as times change. An agentic perspective states that we are not merely reactive organisms shaped by environmental forces or driven by inner impulses.
2) The capacity for human beings to make choices in the world. HUMAN AGENCY
We see the world as agents of change. We believe that we have choice over our actions and we strive to enable others to make informed, responsible decisions.”
Recently, Dr. Curry wrote in his persistent advocacy of Black males in America, “The reoccuring structure of Black males coping with their rape is to accept its impossibility and imagine themselves as agentic. We need psychologists and social workers in these communities willing to treat these boys as victims , and theorists willing to engage female perpetrated rape beyond the idea of sexual initiation.” In the context of all of us as victims of racial attack, we ask whether any of us can imagine ourselves as agentic and if such a preposition may be impeded by inherent fallacies. Dr. Curry always brings opportunities FOR “transformative discourse”. He will be joining us once again on OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham.
about Dr. Tommy J. Curry
Dr. Curry is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is a Ray A. Rothrock Fellow 13′-16′ in the Department of Philosophy.
He is an editor of PhilPapers, Choice Magazine and a regular contributor to RacismReview.com and OUR COMMON GROUND. He is Critical Race Theorist, Anti-Colonialist, Applied Ethicist and Black philosopher.
His work in social justice, applied ethics, and bioethics concerns the present interpretation of the Belmont report, and the racial/class barriers to minority access to medical innovation in health care. He has been interviewed by Forbes.com, the Wall Street Journal, Salon.com and other popular venues for his opinions on politics, ethics, and racial justice issues.
His upcoming book in Black Studies and Black Manhood Studies | “The Man-Not” can be Pre-Ordered now on Amazon.com.
A must read is his OP-ED, When Black News Disappears: White Holds On Black Intellectuals’ Minds And Misinforming The Black Public
Racism Review | Op-Ed Follow him on Twitter: @drtjc
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