“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” ~1 John 3:15
Today I have, like you, read many tweets, thoughts, observations and news articles about the murder of eight people in the Atlanta Asian community. I would like to cut through all the spin out there surrounding this and first say that my heart is broken, and we in the Alliance NW mourn and grieve with our Asian friends, family, and churches that have already endured an intense year of racial hatred in America.
We stand with you… We grieve with you… We see you… We speak out with you against the rise of Asian-racism…
In my mind, I hear the words of my Asian friends who have told me that the message they were taught growing up was to “keep their head down, work harder than anyone else and try to keep beneath the radar ” if they wanted to get ahead.In other words, “Here is how to survive in a “White” world.
We have had a year of escalation of hate toward Asians fueled by a national conversation surrounding COVID19 by calling it the “Kung-Flu” or the “China Virus” or other names that center the pandemic on a “people-group” making them the enemy. The result? Destroyed Asian restaurants, businesses and attacks on Asian people.
Words matter… Sarcasm kills…
The spin has already begun…I have heard that, “The murderer had a sexual addiction, and the massage centers that the people worked in were a temptation… so, it’s not racial it’s sexual.”
It’s not that simple…it’s all connected…
As the murderer was a professed Evangelical Christian, blaming this on his sexual struggle misses the point. I see this as an unholy trinity of flawed sexual theology, unrepented of white supremacy systems, and an absolute devaluing of the sanctity of life…We have lost the concept of dignity towards others and we spin it in so many devaluing ways.
Is racism embedded? Yes Is sexism embedded? Yes Do we need to address our faulty sexual discipleship? Yes Do we need to address the ethnic biases that exist in our lives, communities and churches? Yes
BUT…those realities and our focus on those things also dehumanizes this tragic loss of life. We forget that eight families have lost people they love and they lost them in a horrible, devastating and violent way that will leave scars on their souls forever.
Today would you pause with me and remember their lives. Today would you pause with me and pray for our Asian friends and communities. Today would you stand up and say “No More”
I first encountered the story of Madam C.J. Walker in a movie about her life called “Self Made” on Netflix, starring Octavia Spencer. It was a powerful movie about a dynamic woman. Debra Michals PhD, writing about Walker states:
“Struggling financially, facing hair loss, and feeling the strain of years of physical labor, Walker’s life took a dramatic turn in 1904. That year, she not only began using African American businesswoman Annie Turbo Malone’s “The Great Wonderful Hair Grower,” but she also joined Malone’s team of black women sales agents. A year later, Walker moved to Denver, Colorado, where she married ad-man Charles Joseph Walker, renamed herself “Madam C.J. Walker,” and with $1.25, launched her own line of hair products and straighteners for African American women, “Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower.”
An article on PBS.org states that Walker was the first Black American women that was a self-made millionaire. The piece goes on to say: “To keep her agents more loyal, Walker organized them into a national association and offered cash incentives to those who promoted her values. In the same way, she organized the National Negro Cosmetics Manufacturers Association in 1917. “I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself,” Walker said in 1914. “I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”
Walker was tenacious, savvy, compassionate, entrepreneurial, and sacrificial. I hope yyou are inspired by her story. Check out the sources links at the end for more info.
“Because she found out you can never go broke working black women’s hair.”
ENTREPRENEUR, ACTIVISTb. 1867 – 1919
At first, it was all about hair and an ointment guaranteed to heal scalp infections. Sarah Breedlove – the poor washerwoman who would become millionaire entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker – was trying to cure dandruff and banish her bald spots when she mixed her first batch of petrolatum and medicinal sulfur.
But what began as a solution to a pesky personal problem quickly became a means to a greater end. With the sale of each 2-ounce tin of Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, she discovered that her most powerful gift was motivating other women. As she traveled throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Central America, teaching her Walker System and training sales agents, she shared her personal story: her birth on the same plantation where her parents had been enslaved, her struggles as a young widow, her desperate poverty. If she could transform herself, so could they. In place of washtubs and cotton fields, Walker offered them beauty culture, education, financial freedom and confidence. “You have made it possible for a colored woman to make more money in a day selling your products than she could in a week working in white folks’ kitchens,” one agent wrote to her.
The more money Walker made, the more generous she became — $1,000 to her local black YMCA in Indianapolis, $5,000 to the NAACP’s anti-lynching fund. Scholarships for students at Tuskegee and Daytona Normal and Industrial institutes. Music lessons for young black musicians.
In 1917 at her first national convention, Walker awarded prizes to the women who sold the most products and recruited the most new agents. More importantly, she honored the delegates whose local clubs had contributed the most to charity. She encouraged their political activism in a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson, urging him to support legislation that would make lynching a federal crime.
Walker was labeled a “Negro subversive” by Wilson’s War Department because of her advocacy for black soldiers during World War I and her support of public protests against the East St. Louis, Illinois, riot.
By the time she died in 1919 in her Westchester County, New York, mansion, she had defied stereotypes, provided employment for thousands of women and donated more than $100,000 to civic, educational and political causes.
As a philanthropist and a pioneer of today’s multibillion-dollar hair care industry, she used her wealth and influence to empower others. One could say she was woke a hundred years ago. – A’Lelia Bundles
Black History Month in North America is an opportunity to expand our understanding of an often “whitewashed” past. Specifically, BHM helps us celebrate and acknowledge how African Americans have been a crucial and overlooked part of the development of America’s political, social, and economic systems. This focus reminds us that this development came at a high cost to the African American community.
In an interview with The Banner Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige (Executive Associate to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at Calvin University) shares that: “The U.S.A.—a place where many Africans were brought as slaves, kept in bondage, and denied basic civil rights. It’s a place where, still today, experiences of racism are pervasive. Nevertheless, the contributions of Africans/black Americans to this country have been numerous. These accomplishments should be celebrated and given proper credit—as should be the case for all people groups who have contributed to the building of this nation.“
In the interview, Dr. Loyd-Paige also notes that: “… it (Celebrating Black History Month) is a matter of truth-telling. The U.S. history that is often taught in our schools is very white. The history of black people in America rarely goes beyond slavery, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks. Black History Month is an invitation and an opportunity to dig deeper into U.S. history and the accomplishments of African Americans.”
This year to celebrate Black History Month I am reading and sharing story on some of the amazing Black men and women I am learning about. My plan is to Highlight someone each week through the month of February. This week’s spotlight is Richard Allen. The following information is from: https://theundefeated.com
Because God doesn’t segregate, but humans do…
PREACHER. ABOLITIONIST. FORMER SLAVE. EDUCATOR.b. 1760 – 1831
A Feb. 20, 1898, sermon by the Rev. John Palmer on Richard Allen’s place in African-American history reads:
“If true greatness consists in that self-sacrificing heroism and devotion which makes a man insensible and indifferent to his own personal welfare, interest, comfort and advantages; and to deny himself of all for the sake of others, and for the elevation and advancement of others, without a single promise of reward — we say, if these constitute greatness, then Richard Allen, the first bishop of the AME church, was great.”
Allen is considered the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in America. That church, now with a membership of more than 2.5 million people and 6,000 churches, was the country’s first independent black denomination.
Former slave. Born into servitude in 1760 in Philadelphia, “Negro Richard” earned $2,000 to buy his freedom and that of his brother in 1780. Richard Allen, the name he chose as a freedman, came of age during the American Revolution, just as the antislavery movement and denominational Christianity were gaining prominence.
Preacher. Allen, his wife Sarah and others opened the doors of Bethel AME Church on July 29, 1794, on the site of a converted blacksmith shop on Sixth Street in Philadelphia. Allen was ordained the church’s pastor. Driven to establish “Mother Bethel” by white Methodists’ segregation of blacks, Allen brought other black Methodist congregations in Philadelphia together in 1816. They elected Allen bishop, a position he held until his death in 1831.
Abolitionist. Allen focused his sermons on the freedom of slaves, cessation of colonization, education of youths and temperance. He created denominational groups to care for and educate the poor. His home and Bethel AME were stops on the Underground Railroad.
Educator. Recognizing that former slaves and freedmen needed education, he opened a day school for black children and a night school for adults. Allen published articles in Freedom’s Journal attacking slavery, colonialism and organizations that advocated the migration of blacks back to Africa. He authored three pamphlets about escaping the bonds of slavery, including An Address to Those Who Keep Slaves and Approve the Practice.
Allen’s legacy lives on today in the AME church’s work, whose motto is “God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family.” – John X. Miller
Today your Facebook, Instagram, Linked-in, Twitter, and Tik-Tok feeds will be full of powerful quotes and images of Martin Luther King Jr. as they should be. The impact he had moving the Civil Rights needle forward is to be celebrated, remembered, and affirmed.
The problem with one-day memorials is that the impact tends to last only for the day. The moment gives way to matters more personally urgent as the daily grind washes the brain, acting as both desensitizer and eraser of everything it deems non-essential.
In 2020 we were living through history in the making. From daily COVID updates, information, and misinformation to confronting our racism in real-time. The death/killing of George Floyd by police officers sparked anger, unrest, and demonstrations resulting in some of the most widespread civil unrest in years. And rightly so.
The unrest has revealed how far we have to go in racial reconciliation in the U.S. In 2020 Confederate flag wielders, alt-right-white-supremacist-Aryan-hate-groups, and Q-anon types, felt safe to show who they were and what they believed. The visible hate and the support for that hate created many “I don’t believe what I am seeing!” moments. Perhaps what saddened me most was to see how some of these groups were proclaiming Jesus.
So, yes, that’s why I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. Day matters now more than ever.
Over the weekend, I re-read MLK’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Have you read it? If your answer is no, I will encourage you to put it at the top of your list. You can download it HERE:
On April 12, 1963, a group of eight white clergy from Alabama issued a statement titled “A Call For Unity.” In their statement, they condemned the demonstration in Birmingham led by Martin Luther King Jr. The “Letter From Birmingham Jail” was MLK’s response to the statement.
In the letter King writes:
“Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promises. So I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here.
Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.”
The line “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here” sparks my inner prophet. I can imagine hearing Jesus say similar words, “I am in Jerusalem because injustice is here, and my mission is to right the wrongs of sin and death, bringing an end to injustice everywhere.” The theme of justice baptizes His Messianic Mission statement found in Luke 4:18-19. As Jesus reads the words of Isaiah, He connects them and attributes them as His personal mission statement:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Help the poor; release the prisoners; heal the blind; free those oppressed; proclaim God’s favor. These words sing with justice images. These words echo the words of Micah 6:8, “What does YHWH require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God…”
Doing justice is the call of every follower of Jesus. Doing justice happens when we work to create with God a world where every person has the access and opportunity to live and develop the life God designed them to live. To know Him and unleash the gifts He embedded in their soul.
So, as Jesus did, we work to eliminate the outcast, the marginalized, the ostracized, the least of these. Further along in King’s letter, he notes:
Further along in King’s letter he notes:
“You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.”
Did you catch what King gently states: “I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.”
Our culture is not grappling with underlying causes because we have chosen the superficial social analysts of Twitter, Facebook, News entertainment channels, and talk radio. When we do wrestle with the underlying causes, people tend to get antsy, squeamish, and often move toward shame rather than repentance. Shame calls upon her cousin Guilt and the two launch back at the truth with the vitriol of justifications and accusations.
Dealing with systemic sin is painful. It hurts, but it is the only healing path for us all.
MLK’s Dream was freedom and equality because this is how God designed us. King riffs on that theme when he said: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come. This is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom; something without has reminded him that he can gain it.”
Paul cries out to the Galatians (5:1), “It is for freedom that Christ has set; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Four Things You Can Do To Celebrate MLK Day Everyday.
RESPOND: When someone asks me if I believe “Black Lives Matter,” my answer is an unqualified YES. I don’t need to remind them that all lives matter, or blue lives matter, or pastor’s lives matter. The question is singular; therefore, the best response is not another justification that diminishes the question’s intent. This is one way to celebrate MLK Day every day.
ACKNOWLEDGE: Many people believe that since anti-discrimination laws exist the problem of racism is in the past. This is blatantly untrue. I can celebrate MLK Day everyday by acknowledging that discrimination, racism, and systemic evil do indeed exist.
RECOGNIZE: Everyone has implicit bias, which are attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. You can celebrate MLK Day everyday by reading books that will challenge you and educate you. I have previously written and given book recommendations in a post called, “Educating Monty, (on racism, injustice, and white supremacy) read it HERE.
ACT: Micah calls us to “do justice.” You can celebrate MLK Day everyday when you call it out when you encounter ethnic slurs, intentional limited access, or blatant racism. King’s non-violent protests, and the reason for them, stand in stark contrast to the events of violence, outrage, and sedition we have recently experienced in our nation’s capital. Our calling is to act, God’s responsibility is to heal, deliver, and restore.
May we refuse to allow this MLK Day become a one quote wonder. Choose to do all you can to Respond, Acknowledge, Recognize and Act in such a way that the beauty of Revelation 7:9-12 would manifest on earth as it is in heaven.
“9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.””