#whoisburningblackchurches

#whoisburningblackchurches

if you don’t know that black churches are burning/being burned,

you, too, are burning black churches

if you are black and think this doesn’t affect you

you, too, are burning black churches

if you have ever treated someone unfairly for the slightest amount of indifference, 

if you when talking to children in the year 2015 classify the difference in movies such as “annie” as white vs black and the child corrects you saying new vs old

you, too, are burning black churches

if you think that Jesus is frowning about marriage equality 

you, too, are burning black churches

if you’ve ever sat silently while someone was being fairly untreated, and even if your only power was speaking up you didn’t use it

you, too, are burning black churches

I’m not blaming just you, because it isn’t solely your fault. But in an age where research can be accomplished by the swipe of a thumb and in the palm of your hand, it is quickly becoming your fault if you choose to remain silent/do nothing. 

Yes, we have been taught and conditioned to think that different is less than that whiter and lighter is somehow righter, but we have woken up and we see how much of a nightmare that lie has been. 

It’s the small actions that we must take. Stop sharing your bias with young children. Check yourself before wrecking someone else. Learn that not everyone is like you, and know that that’s ok, and they are just as capable at being intelligent, at being successful, at being loved. 

We have to stop victimizing and criminalizing “otherness”. That’s why we’re here in the first place. And as long as we continue to do so, churches will forever burn. As long as we continue to do, Mike Browns will forever be killed. Dylan Roofs will continue to massacre. We burn a church every time we pre judge someone. Somewhere along the line, Dylan was told that being black was other, was wrong, was not worthy of life. Darren had been hearing and seeing the same things on tv, in the news, at his job all of his life. We have been told this since we arrived on this continent, and we too, have believed it, have fed into it, have perpetuated it against ourselves, and in turn on others. 

We hold the fire, we hold the guns. We hold the power. But what are you going to do with it?  

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Today, I cry: Salute to Jackie Robinson West

I remember two times in particular crying at what I was witnessing on the news

Once, thirteen years ago when the planes struck the towers.

I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to be a terrorist, why anyone would choose to end hundreds of peoples lives, leaving children without parents 

That hurt my twelve year old core.

Today I am watching the news again, and at the age of twenty five I still find myself touched to the core

Today, however, these aren’t tears of sorrow or sadness for the loss of loved ones

Today, they are tears of hope, of rejoicing, of relief, of celebration

For the fact that there are thirteen black boys who aren’t somewhere holding guns or moving dope

Thirteen black boys who aren’t being gunned down by other black boys or uniformed policemen

Thirteen black boys who have instead brought camaraderie and fellowship to a city that needs healing

To a city that is crying out for a change.

Today, I think we are beginning to see what that change can do. And for that reason, today, I cry. 

No Ordinary Basketball

I saw a basketball in the street today

This was no ordinary basketball

Ordinary basketballs are bound to bounce in the street, they get thrown high, high above the mark, over shooting the basket

Ordinary basketballs are plump full of possibilities, just waiting to make the winning score

Ordinary basketballs are drilled well, kept full of air and life, and played with often

The basketball I saw today was no ordinary basketball

It could not be bounced in the street

It could not be made to shoot high above the mark

No one could drill this ball

For this was an abandoned ball, deft and deflated, left alone to be run over and over and over again

This ball was brown, lifeless and limp

Laying in a street on the southside of Chicago

Someone had forgotten all about this brown boy,

I mean, 

Someone had forgotten all about this brown ball

 

I’m beginning to see more and more of them left in the street. 

a piece for peace for mike brown

America, land of the free, home of the brave.

 

I’m sorry, for who?

 

Oh great America, savior of the world

 

But killer of your own

 

“Of course it’s important to remember how this all started”…Well, Mr President we would have to go back four hundred years to remember how it all started.

 

“We lost a young man”…is dat all we’ve los’, mistah President? I seem to remembuh this happenin’ befoe’.

 

This is the shot heard round the world.

 

Bang.

 

Oh wait, there’s more.

 

Bang.

 

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

 

6, or 9.

 

Bang. Bang. Bang.

 

They’re still not done.

 

How many more?

 

Because little brown boys and big black men merely mean meager men

 

I recall that we’ve been here before

 

Oscar, bang.

 

Trayvon, bang.

Amadou, bang.

 

And the hundreds of other names that if I’d named we wouldn’t even know.

Bang bang fucking bang.

 

I think they think we’re toys. Remember the Parker Bros Game, “3 Little Niggers”? This is this millennial version, “Little Niggers 3.0: Shoot, Kill, Get Away with it”. They even got “Little Niggers 2.0: Give Them Guns So They Can Kill Each Other Then We Are Absolved of Any Responsibility” .

 

Bang.

 

It doesn’t matter who does the shooting, as long as the shit gets done, as long as the shit gets shot.

 

Little brown boys and big black men, it’s important to remember how this all started

 

Oh, Mr. President, you mean how they forced us from our lands, removed our histories, made us believe in a blond blued eyed Jesus, told us we were niggers and not human beings and now we call each other nigger before pulling the trigger. You mean how our blood built this country, and now how our blood salts the streets.

 

Bang. Bang.

 

America, land of the free

 

Bang.

 

Home of the brave.

 

Bang, fucking bang.

 

Die, nigger die.

Not Just Violence for the Sake of Violence

I saw this post from Father Michael Pfleger, priest of Southside Chicago parish St. Sabina. He briefly touches on how “econScreenshot_2014-08-02-10-19-42omic stress can cause one to snap”, and how that’s only a part of the media narrative regarding whites, and is completely left out of the story when we hear about black on black violence, which in Chicago seems to be every minute of every day, especially if it’s a warm weekend in Summertime Chi. No one, or at least the mainstream media, seems to be making the connections between poverty and unemployment and the supposedly “senseless” violence.

Our communities are indeed suffering from major trauma, that of homelessness, poverty, joblessness, familylessness, communitylessness and other societal ills that have engulfed our communities for decades, most presumably since the crack epidemic. It’s trauma; our community has suffered a rupture and this is how we deal. Violence is our coping mechanism.

But it’s not just violence for the sake of violence. These so called “lost” kids are striving and seeking for something. They are looking for families and communities, for somewhere to belong, and if mom and dad aren’t home or able to provide that, then the gangs are. They are striving for an outlet from the stresses of living in low-income and almost deserted neighborhoods. The struggle is real.

I recently facilitated a group of teens from all over the Southside of Chicago in creating their own play. They decided the play would be about issues they face on a day to day basis as teens growing up in Chicago. The main characters faced these specific issues: having to deal drugs because grandmother was the primary caretaker, but was too old to really work, so the teen had to make money to care for her sister and herself; drinking alcohol to “fit in”, but also because it was a coping mechanism to deal with an alcoholic mother; deciding to have sex with the first guy that expressed interest and low self esteem because one doesn’t look like the models on the magazines or Nicki Minaj; and lastly, a friend of a friend of a gang member being shot just by association.

Most of these storylines had to deal with searching for a community, and only being able to find it in the areas of drugs, alcohol, gangs and sex. This is what Chicago teens, and teens in many places, endure day in and day out. We are violently suffering so we are violently crying out. Our cries and screams and pleas are the ever present gunshots, are being involved in abusive relationships, are turning to drugs and substance abuse.  

My teens’ play didn’t stop there; they decided that they wanted to show a positive outcome from the negative situations, something they felt is too often left out of the media depictions of Chicago. All of the protagonists in their story decide to make a change, and try out a community art center geared towards youth that had both performing and visual art programs. Providing an artistic outlet for the talented youth of the City of Chicago is one way that they imagine we can begin to at least slow down some of the negativity and violence coming from our streets. And I guarantee that if we sat and had more conversations and workshops, they would continue to come up with plausible and doable solutions. But for whatever reason, that seems to be the approach taken the least by those who are trying to “stop the violence”.

We as adults and city officials can come up with all the plans in the world, but if there is no buy in and responsibility being asked of the so called “perpetrators”, then we will continue to be stuck where we are. We all too often hear from the mayor, the radio personalities, the preachers, but less often are we putting up or making the space the youth to come to the forefront. They must be the ones to take ownership, they need to take ownership, to be held accountable, to feel a part of something. There’s pride and a positive power that comes along with being heard, as well as a sense of belonging.