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My Soapbox Diary Blog

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I am on my soapbox today to remind you not to grow weary. Since today is the first day of Black History Month, I think of all that our ancestors endured that allowed us to be where we are today. It may seem like nothing has changed, but things are better.

I am currently reading "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi which paints such a vivid picture of the thread that is the thru line that connects one generation to the next. When I walk through the cemetery in Little Philly, I see headstones from Covingtons, gone long before I was ever thought of, with dates etched in stone from the late 1800s. I think of my great grandmother in that same line, my grandmother that followed, and now my my children.

Did they imagine what our lives could be? Could they even scarcely hope that our lives would be better? And our lives are better. Yes, racism is still alive and well. It still stains the pillars of our democracy and strains to shackle us under its weight. But in the words of Maya Angelou, "And still I rise."

They suffered so many indignities just by living and though we face challenges, Lord knows we do, they made it and so must we. We have no time to grow weary, to give up, to become discouraged. We do the work, not just for ourselves, but those that come after. Just as those who came before paved the way for our generation. We keep striving toward the fulfillment of the American ideals.

We will continue to fight for our right to vote and then overcome whatever obstacles that are put in our way to excercise that right. We will fight for inclusion and a seat at the table for employment, education, home ownership. We will continue to fight against health disparities and income inequality.

Be passionate. Be active. Be heard. There is still much work to do. Pick a cause to champion. And let's leave this world better than we found it. The example has been set by the countless generations that preceded us from the Motherland, through the Middle Passage, through slavery, Jim Crow, and present day. It ain't over! We continue the fight because we can't give up now. We can imagine a different America and work to see it fulfilled.

We know change can come because they showed us the path. They made the impossible possible.

Don't grow weary. There is work to be done. Change is coming!

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

I am disheartened today, but also angry and disgusted. I cannot for the life of me understand the theological gymnastics that some folks are going through to defend the actions of a man accused of dating underage girls. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have proudly told you I was an Evangelical. That meant something. For me, it meant that we stood on the inerrant Word of God. We guided our lives by the Bible and we lived by the mantra “What would Jesus do?” Remember that verse 1 John 2:6, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”

I can’t help but think that Jesus probably would not have been saying let He who is without sin cast the first stone in defense of Roy Moore. When I read the story of the woman caught in adultery being brought to Jesus, Christ had compassion. I can imagine Leigh Corfman being dragged to Jesus’ feet being called a liar and much worse. I do not mean to presume that Corfman has committed a wrongdoing like the woman caught in adultery, but simply to remind us that we should be angry at the things that Jesus would be angry at, and have compassion and show grace to those to whom Jesus would. Remember in the story,  we all ask the question, what did He write in the sand. Why did the accusers slip away?

My faith compels me to stand on the side of those who say they have been victimized. We cannot hypocritically say believe the woman when we believe the accused offender is liberal, but decry women as liars and fake news when the accused offender is conservative. Evangelicals have sacrificed their moral standing for political victories.

I remember reading the Left Behind series and I could never quite wrap my head around people who had seen so many extraordinary things and yet they still refused to believe. I could not understand how people could justify evil even when they had seen it with their own eyes.

But now, I understand that a little better. Folks that I have worshipped with, prayed with, served with, sang with, studied with, fellowshipped with, lived life with. Yes, those people and many others like them, continue to find new and creative ways to defend the indefensible. It was inconceivable that many in the nation could shrug off the comments of a man, in his own words, who clearly described groping women without their consent. But even that did not come close to the outrageous defense of Roy Moore where a supporter likened the accusation of a 32-year-old man having sexual contact with a 14-year-old to the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph. So, Evangelicals, help me understand in what world do we currently live where we call wrong right and right wrong.

I still believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but the label Evangelical does not fit me anymore. I am hidden in Christ, not my political affiliation. I feel the tug on my heart that my Savior is calling me to more. We are to advocate for those whom the world shuns, not pick up a rock and be ready to stone them. So take some time to think on these words, not my words, but the words of John. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

I must confess that this last year or so has been a hard emotional journey. I have struggled to come to terms with the country I love, but many days I do not know where we are headed. But in all of that I have tried to pursue dialogue in a compassionate, heartfelt way that engages those who believe differently than I do.

I recently shared a post on Facebook of what appeared to be a Muslim man who had acid thrown in his face. I continue to be shocked and saddened by man’s lack of humanity and empathy.

A friend posted this comment in part, “I believe the problem with this country is with ALL citizens not respecting each other as human beings. Period. It’s time we stop being so divided with pointing the finger towards those that have trespassed against us and realize it is a very real struggle that we all can get through together with the guidance of our Creator and Father.”

The incident in the post did not even happen in America, but Manchester, England. But since our beloved country was brought into the conversation, let me delve a little deeper.

If ALL citizens in this country were being routinely and randomly stopped, harassed, arrested and sometimes shot by police officers while going into their own homes, walking in their own neighborhoods, driving their own cars, swimming in their own neighborhood pools, in that case, we would have a common point from which to start. But when I look at the news, I rarely see ALL citizens, but interestingly, the citizens I do see have something in common and it is not their bank accounts, their occupation, their pedigree, their address, or their education, but rather it is the color of their skin.

And I would be remiss to point out that even using the term ALL citizens seems to confer upon us a status that is often denied by those in authority and our common man.

If we were treated like citizens, why the disparity in so many areas with the common denominator being race?

And do not try to mollify me by enlisting the name of the Creator. The division that exists in America is not because the oppressed seek acknowledgement of our painful pasts, but rather it is the absence of that acknowledgment that keeps the wound from healing.

I agree with an article by John Hopkins University about Germany’s reconciliation efforts. When Germany was hated by the world for their extermination of millions of Jews and blamed for the deaths of millions of other soldiers and civilians through their beliefs and policies that led to World War II, Germany did not just give some one-time apology and expect those deep wounds to be healed. Germany realized that it could not run from its crimes, it had to confront them by acknowledging the atrocities that were committed by Germans.

The problem with America, in general, is the nation is not willing to recognize the imperative to repay a deep moral debt to descendants not only of those who were enslaved, but those who have been systematically oppressed in every facet of life: employment, housing, healthcare, education, services.

I would dare say that many in this country don’t know enough about what has happened to black people to understand why we are aggrieved. And there can be no national healing without acknowledgement of past wrongs and the enduring consequences of those established systems.

If these injustices and cruelties in America were just a few isolated cases, then there may be a justification in declaring time to move on. But these are dots connected through time unified only in the oppression and mistreatment of people of color. The Tuskegee Experiment. Emmitt Till. The Scottsboro Boys. The Central Park Five. Robert Charles O’Hara Benjamin. Black Wall Street. The Rosewood Massacre. Benjamin O. Davis. Medger Evers. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castille. These are not unrelated historical or contemporary happenings, but rather a pattern that we have endured for generations.

Germany recognized that in order to move forward, not only the country symbolically, but it’s citizens individually needed to confront the atrocities done. Jews would not have stood for Germans telling them to stop pointing the finger towards those who had trespassed against them. In fact, the Jewish mantra is “Never Forget.” And we echo the same refrain, “Never Forget.”

Reconciliation is possible and I agree that for believers it is our faith in Christ that enables us to overcome the most difficult things that we face. But even entering into the salvation of God starts with confession and repentance.

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