The Cost of Being ‘Savage’ in a Supposedly Civilized World

This country is rich with awful things to say about everybody. There’s a slur for you and a slur for me — more than one. And because we’re terrified of dealing with them head on, we’ve made them just as easy to warp and defang. Ask anybody who has played HQ Trivia. HQ is the 12-question smartphone fad that has turned Americans into daily-quiz junkies. And in any given session, a stumper might come along that wipes out a huge number of players. (On Nov. 14, nearly half the players misidentified … [Read more...]

Justice Not Jails Seeks a Part-Time Organizer

Organizer - Justice Not Jails Los Angeles Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Los Angeles, CA 90041 $1,000 - $2,000 a month - Part-time, Contract Justice Not Jails, a faith-based network focused on mass incarceration and abusive policing, seeks a part-time organizer to help its multi-faith leadership team move the work forward. The organizer will interact with congregational clergy, leaders of allied organizations, policymakers, and others. An engaging confident manner, along with a … [Read more...]

Black Lives Matter and the Lives That Preceded It

As an activist and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors spends a good amount of time talking to others, not infrequently with a bullhorn in her hand. Her childhood, however, was suffused with silence. In “When They Call You a Terrorist,” written with the journalist Asha Bandele, she remembers peering from behind a fence when her older brothers, then 11 and 13, were playing with their friends outside and a police car rolled up. The officers “throw them up on … [Read more...]

Christians of Color Are Rejecting “Colonial Christianity” and Reclaiming Ancestral Spiritualities

This is how quickly it happened. One moment we were passing sumptuous kebob platters around the table making polite introductions, and the next we were swapping trauma stories that we—all people of color, many LGBTQ—had experienced in what were essentially white Christian spaces.* There was the black nonprofit worker who attended a Christian conference in the rural Southeast, where she had to walk past white men staring her down from pickup trucks draped in confederate flags; there was the … [Read more...]

Erica Garner and How America Destroys Black Families

Erica Garner, the civil rights activist and a daughter of Eric Garner, died on Saturday, two days before the New Year and in the middle of the holiday season — a time when we’re all encouraged to be with our families. It is impossible to think of her death without thinking of her father’s death, the devastation their family must feel and the ways that black families have been destroyed throughout history. Other families could devote themselves to spending time together around tables piled … [Read more...]

The Year in Religion: A Ray of Hope Amid the Usual Fecklessness

dc]T[/dc]aking my cue from the revised pater noster commended by His Holiness, I begin by asking that God not let me fall into the powerful temptation to superimpose my own characteristic gloom on the news at hand. It’s always a challenge for me not to play Diogenes, but I must try. At the very least, I will end this piece on a hopeful note. I can’t avoid beginning with a huge problem, however: one that has to do with the widespread religious misreading of the historical moment we face. It … [Read more...]

When Will There Be Zero Tolerance For Racism?

Congressman John Conyers was the first politician to leave his job after the “Me Too” hashtag galvanized women to speak up about sexual misconduct, harassment and more. Too bad that impetus did not float up to the top, when an avowed grabber of women’s genitals was elected to lead this country. Too bad, too, that the many members of Congress who have paid accusers out of a taxpayer-funded slush fund have not been unmasked. We know some of the names. Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R) … [Read more...]

This Is What Patriarchy Looks Like

Patriarchy is neither Democrat nor Republican. But only one party bakes it into its brand. There’s an alleged ass-grabber in the Senate and a self-described pussy-grabber in the White House. In Alabama, an alleged ephebophile who stands accused of assaulting young women—including one as young as 14—is running for a seat in the Senate. He enjoys support of the pussy-grabber in the Oval Office. The “dean of the House” paid $27,000 in taxpayer dollars to a woman who accused him of sexually … [Read more...]

Colin Kaepernick and the Legacy of the Negro National Anthem

The lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key embraced the pop cultural tastes of his day when he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” to commemorate an American victory over the British at Baltimore during the War of 1812. He gave his composition broad appeal with a melody derived from a popular British music club anthem that celebrated the virtues of love and wine. Satirists pounced, lampooning the song with lyrics that depicted a man who staggers home drunk and sleeps well past “the dawn’s … [Read more...]

Fighting Racism Is Not Just a War of Words

There is worth in the expression of shared principles, as well as in the support that stems from collaboration. But beyond the immediate affirmation of restating our moral convictions, I confess my nagging worry that ceaseless statement-writing as an act of protest is sucking us dry — of time, rest, energy, creativity and our place in the public square. Protest aims to voice dissent and sway public opinion toward the ultimate end of shaping social change, or in our moment, halting social … [Read more...]