Never Forget Greenwood

In 1921 the Greenwood District in Oklahoma was one of the wealthiest black communities in all of America. It was described as the Black Wall Street. What an interesting name for the epicenter of black businesses, even though there were no brokerage houses. As history records, Greenwood was burned to ashes by a white mob. But I want to suggest to you today that it just wasn’t the businesses that were burned to the ground. I want to suggest that black America’s financial principles, financial literacy and management were burned to the ground and buried in mass economic graves for generations. Today, I’d like us to ask the question, what financial principles have we forgotten from Greenwood?

Support Black Businesses

The first and perhaps most critical factors which contributed to Greenwood’s success as black wall street, was that blacks supported black businesses. Close to 100 years later, black consumers celebrate Juneteenth oblivious to the economic reality that a dollar circulates 28 days in Asian communities, 19 days in Jewish communities but only six hours in African-American communities. Have you forgotten Greenwood?

Appreciable Assets

The second most powerful principle is that blacks owned assets which would appreciate in value. Yes, they owned businesses, hotels, hospitals, land, and other maturing assets. Today, most of the black consumer spending power of 1.3 trillion dollars are spent on assets having little or no appreciable value such as clothes and cars. It’s one thing if the money was spent on such depreciable assets, but black consumers also had stock in the company, like Nike. But the truth is, most of black America does not even own stocks in the brands they purchase the most!

Black Spending Power

Black America’s spending power is an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars, yet black businesses are not supported and blacks don’t own assets which appreciate. How is it with your consumption and spending? It was James W. Frick who said, “Don’t tell me what your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are.” Where does your money go? Are you imitating the financial principles from Greenwood?




Hilly, Kobe, Healing: An Open Letter to Black People on Father’s Day 2020

“Embrace the “beautiful struggle” of our existence, persistence, and resistance.

Fourteen years ago this week, I became a father overnight. On Sunday, June 18, 2006, I said “I do” to my beautiful bride, Bobbie, and I also officially said “I will” to Jalen, our handsome 12-year-old son, who walked his mom down the aisle, with Bobbie’s father on her other side. It was a Father’s Day and I not only became a husband, but that day I publicly accepted the calling to be a dad to a young man who had tragically lost his father to cancer a few years prior.

It was an exciting day for Bobbie, Jalen and me as our new family formed, yet there was complexity, as is common with blended family transitions. Most of our complexity came from navigating the vitriol of those struggling to accept that Bobbie had found love again—and of all people, love again, with me.

Shift

Bobbie’s first husband and Jalen’s father, Mandell (affectionately known to many as ‘Hilly’) was an amazing man. His death had shaken many in our small community. Ironically, Hilly’s battle with cancer intersected with the tragedy and ‘shift’ of September 11th, 2001. After Hilly passed in 2003, the subsequent disillusionment and displacement that many in our small community felt was not entirely dissimilar to the shift that others may feel now as a result of Covid-19 and the uprisings for justice—a new normal was upon us and life would never be the same.

Our marriage—our new normal—ruffled feathers. It was a unique time in life, an odd season. I was young. I quickly learned the difference between relatives and family, friends and frien(d)emies. People literally asked me prior to our wedding if I felt I had to compete with Hilly. There were no comparisons to be made on our end. Just a new season.

I knew, loved, and missed Hilly too. Bobbie had cared for and loved Hilly in sickness and in health; over time, she had healed and accepted that she could only go as far as the grave with him. She was ready to love again, and she was grateful to again have a life partner to raise Jalen. She never wanted to raise a young black boy by herself.

Black Dad Anniversary

I never wanted a blended family; I knew blended families could work based on my own unique family

Hilly and Jalen.

journey; but my dream was to have a “normal family,” consistent with my picket-fenced vision of all my children having the same last name. And I certainly didn’t want to set myself up for a young man to be able to say to me–as I once rudely said to my dad who adopted me– “you’re not my daddy!” But I loved Bobbie. I believed that she was the one that I had prayed for. And I loved Jalen and I knew I was called to do for Jalen what my dad did for me: to love, raise, and accept someone else’s son as my own. Many black men do this. Brothers, I see you. I appreciate you.

So my anniversary of marriage is also the anniversary of becoming a dad; my personal Father’s Day.

In addition to being the best husband I could be, I was determined to honor Hilly’s legacy by committing to do the best I could to raise his/ our son. Before the wedding, I took Jalen to visit his dad’s gravesite. We each picked three flowers at different points along the motorcycle ride to the grassy hill where his dad rests—one flower for his dad, one for Jalen, and one for me. It was there that we sat, we reflected, we prayed and we committed to each other one more time before he shared his mom with me and walked her down the aisle.

I was no longer “Ty” to him; he had chosen to give me the name “Daddy-O,” a name I loved from the start.

A lot has changed in 14 years. A lot has changed in 4 months! Jalen is finishing university and he is now a big brother to his doting little brother, Essien—our handsome 12 year old, and budding soccer player. Essien’s admiration for Jalen is such that when I recently asked him where he gets his athletic ability from—assuming he would proudly say ‘you, dad’ —he said “Jalen!”

So what does this have to do with Kobe Bryant?

Kobe, COVID, and Me

Well, January 26, 2020 was another one of those ‘shifting’ days for the world, for us, for sport, for fathers. Jalen’s 26th birthday was on January 26th. Bobbie, Essien, and I had already facetimed with him to celebrate his birthday! We are big sports fans in our house, especially soccer. Jalen and I are Lakers fans. We loved Kobe.

Young Hilly, and Baby Jalen.

When Kobe’s helicopter tragically crashed on Sunday, January 26th, 2020, Jalen was the first person to call me to share the sad news. His deep manly voice could not conceal the concern. I instantly knew something was wrong.

“Daddy-O, did you hear about Kobe?”

“What happened to Kobe?” I retorted with alarm.

“He died.”

The news sucked the joy out of Jalen’s birthday and the restaurant I was in as news quickly spread. News of the passing of Gigi—Kobe’s daughter, and the others on the helicopter compounded our grief. Named after Jalen Rose like so many others of his generation, I could sense in my Jalen’s voice that Kobe’s death ‘hit different.’

This wasn’t just about the passing of a basketball legend; it was the loss of a #girldad, a husband, a beautifully, imperfect Black man who we got to see transition from youthful exuberance on the court to responsible satisfaction in life beyond basketball.

More than this, there were some airy parallels for Jalen’s loss of Kobe on his 26th birthday on the 26th. Hilly died at 41 and Kobe was 41. Kobe looked like Hilly, like seriously! The eyes, chiseled nose and all. Had Kobe lived beyond 41, Jalen probably could have gotten a glimpse of what his dad would have looked like in old age. But that was snatched away on his birthday.

Father’s Day That Hits Differently

So much has been taken from all of us since then, COVID-19 canceled much of our normal. We’ve lost Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and many others to the bullets and knees of racist police and systems that make it difficult for Black folks to breathe.

And yet, we are still here. Still strategizing. Still marching. Still fighting. Still demanding justice and systematic change. Still taking care of our children and “other people’s children” too, in the words of renown educator Lisa Delpit. We’ve had to homeschool and reorganize. We’ve had to share space, and wifi bandwidth, and extended time with our families—our Black families; and while it has been hard for many of us, we are still here. And we needed this time to remember that our ancestors endured so that we could be here.

This Father’s Day will likely ‘hit different’ than any other. It should. We’ve been through a lot. But I also hope it will be a Father’s Day that heals. A Father’s Day when we “Embrace the B.S.”—the “beautiful struggle” of our existence, persistence, and resistance. The “beautiful struggle” of our uniquely conjoined family arrangements, identities, accents and cultural accoutrements. The struggle of father loss, father gain, fatherhood, father strain, father pain, father joy.

Beautiful Struggle

The beauty of “I’m sorry,” of a text message to a distant dad, of forgiveness of self and others, of release from the wounds of long, life journeys. The beauty of a walk, of a talk, of a meal, of a smile, of silence—no violence, of hope, of healing. The beautiful struggle and gift of reflection, reconnection and resurrection of the possibility and promise that irrespective of whether your earthly father has been present, your Heavenly Father has always been with you!

This is the beautiful struggle of our individual and collective lives and existence; lives that matter—whether your father has been amazing and ‘there’ or whether the relationship has been a cause of despair. You matter. Black lives matter. Black fathers matter. Black mothers matter. Black children matter. Black families matter and we goin’ be alright!

RIP Kobe and Gigi…RIP Hilly. RIP to all our fathers and forefathers, whether they stood or were misunderstood. May God cover and comfort all of our children and families on this Father’s Day.

 




#Lamentations with Larry & Sandy Feldman

Pray

In the Jewish tradition, Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – is a fundamental responsibility. Today, our world is badly in need of repair.

Our hearts are breaking over the most recent in a long line of senseless killings of African-American men, women, and children by police officers. We pray for a clear understanding of what we can do to change this terrible reality and we pray for the strength to persevere in our efforts to bring about urgently needed social change.

Racism has been deeply embedded in the fabric of our nation for hundreds of years. Slavery, lynchings, segregation, prejudice, and discrimination have all taken a toll on people of color. Institutional and individual racism continue to have a devastating impact on Black and Brown America. Police brutality is one manifestation of the enduring legacy of racism in these “United” States.

Jewish theologian Martin Buber taught us that the Divine can be experienced through “I-Thou” relationships. When we recognize “the other” as a person created in the image of God, as an individual deserving of recognition, respect, and caring, we can feel the presence of the Divine. But when the “I-Thou” relationship is distorted by stereotypes and prejudice, “Thou” becomes “It” and “the other” is stripped of his or her humanity. When we enter into “I-It” relationships, terrible things can happen – exclusion, exploitation, discrimination, aggression, murder, genocide. Dr. King often cited the link between experiencing “the other” as an “It” and systemic racism.

In our prayers today, we ask for divine guidance to help us reject the kind of thinking that leads to “I-It” interactions, and to help us commit to recognizing the “Thou” in our relationships with our brothers and sisters.

Fast

In the Jewish faith, our most significant experience of fasting is during the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur. We abstain from eating and drinking from sunset the night before until the sun sets on the day itself. Fasting frees our mind to focus on introspection, on taking a spiritual inventory of how we’ve lived our lives in the year that just concluded. It also allows us to experience in a limited way the feelings of deprivation that are constant companions in the lives of marginalized people.

For all of us today, may our fasting help us to let go of our more superficial concerns and make room for a deep dive into the world of those whose lives are impacted by racism. May our fasting help us to honestly face our own implicit and explicit biases and to acknowledge institutional racism in every aspect of our society. May our fasting help us to make a strong and lasting commitment to do everything we can to eliminate racism in ourselves and in our institutions.

Act

Consider the words of Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me. If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

What can we do today to help repair this broken world? We suggest the following possibilities:

  • When injustice occurs, speak out against it, loudly and persistently, privately and publicly, in our homes, our neighborhoods, our houses of worship, our work environments, and in the public square.
  • Insist on better pre-hiring evaluations, more effective training, and greater transparency for all police officers.
  • Join organizations that are committed to creating a more equitable and just world. Stay involved and stay active, commit for the long haul.
  • Work for the election of governmental officials, at every level, who are strong advocates for the elimination of racial injustice.
  • Communicate with your elected representatives and demand that they take action against injustice.

Systemic racism has plagued our nation for much too long. The time for Tikkun Olam, for repairing ourselves and our society, is now! Together, we can and must make this happen.




#Lamentations with Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart

“Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?'”

John 18:19-23

PRAY

The world is being turned right side up which is what Jesus came to do. People across the globe are protesting for the right of black people to be seen as human beings who reflect the image of God. The question is how do we keep it going; how do we make this a Church priority; that the church joins Jesus in this confrontation of the powers that deny rights to which everyone is entitled? But, before we ask the church, we must ask ourselves, is this what we want for God’s sun-kissed people? Is this a priority for us? If it is, we must pray, pray that we have the strength to challenge the church to make it a priority and pray for ourselves for the strength to commit to the fight, to the struggle, for the long-haul. This is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

FAST

Then we fast; fast from negativity because advocating for equal rights is tiring and there are those who call themselves people of faith who deny Jesus by their actions. There are those who will tell us to “go slow” or that there has been enough change, after all, we’ve had a black man in the White House. Isn’t that enough?  Well, no. We also fast from arguments because those whose minds are made up; those who want to maintain the status quo; who want to maintain what is considered normal; we will just have to leave them to God. We must also fast from prejudice because it is easy to prejudge those who might not agree with us.

ACT

Finally, we act. But act how? As we’ve seen, millions have taken to the streets calling for change in policing. Others are behind the scenes, meeting with governmental officials and legislators. Still others are creating programs where the police and the community can learn together. And then there are those who preach; who take the fight to their pulpits and risk everything to bring about God’s kingdom here, right now for those who have been marginalized, for those who have lamented, “How long, Lord; how long?” There are those who are marshalling resources so every one who can vote, will vote. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you must be political because is about the decision making process that allocates resources to people and since those resources are all part of God’s creation, those who follow Jesus must be involved in the decision making process of getting what is God’s to God’s people. Scripture says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-18). If we follow Jesus, our faith will be an active faith; one that shows the world that a better life can be had by all. This is a Kairos moment. It is full of chaos and opportunity. God creates out of chaos. Do not let this opportunity pass by. We cannot afford to let it pass by. If we do, the church, I’m afraid, will become an irrelevant social club. Keep the faith and keep it active.




#Lamentations with Ty Gibson

Knowing what prayer is, and what it’s not, motivates me to pray.

Jesus explained prayer as the intersection between at least four free agents:

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).

A convergence of four persons is on display here: Simon, Satan, God the Father, and Jesus. Satan is asking God for access to Simon (aka Peter), to destroy him. Jesus is countering Satan’s ask by praying for Peter. A spiritual war is underway over Peter’s soul. He is the target of satanic attack. But on the premise of his prayer for Peter, Jesus fully anticipates a significant effect to be had upon Peter. Peter will deny His Master, but he will return to Jesus.

When I have a clear mental image of what happens when the words of my prayers leave my lips or ascend from my heart, I cannot help but want to pray. It ceases to be a formal religious ritual and becomes a vital interaction between myself and all of the free will activity taking place around me.

Prayer is Not Pagan Magic

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher, said, “God instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.”

Prayer is not pagan magic. God is not a heavenly vending machine. Rather, prayer is part of the science of free will. When I pray, I am leveraging the victory of Christ over the kingdom of darkness, taking back territory that rightfully belongs to Christ. Prayer is an intelligent and strategic exercise of my moral freedom on the battlefield of the great controversy between good and evil. Prayer is an act of war against the systems and structures of evil that compose the demonic empire.

During this present time of massive social upheaval in our nation and in our world, one of the most impactful things we can do to arrest the powers of evil and open access to the powers of good, is to pray out the realities we want our protest against racial injustice to produce.

What I’m Praying For

Today I am specifically praying for strategic conversations between myself and my white brothers and sisters who are operating in their opinions in a vacuum of knowledge and empathy. God help me to articulate the truth of the situation persuasively and open their hearts to feel your heart coming through my words.

What I’m Fasting From

Today I’ll be fasting from all solid foods, and keeping my energy level up with two green protein smoothies, one in the morning, and one in the late afternoon.

What I’m Doing and Encouraging You To Do

Today I will be reaching out to three specific white persons of influence in an effort to open the racial justice conversation with them and ask them to become vocal allies in the vital cause.




The Color of Money

The health pandemic has exposed economic racial disparities and systemic racism. While the government handed out an estimated three trillion dollars in relief to restore and support the economy, because of the structural barriers deeply rooted in our history of racial inequality, there is still a cost to being black. Pandemics, catastrophes and financial crisis only widens the wealth gap between black and white families in America. Here are some of the costs of being black.

FICO Score and Home Ownership

The African American unemployment rate has spiked as a result of the COVID lockdown. Mortgage lending standards usually tighten after a crisis which only widens the wealth gap making it increasingly more difficult for blacks to own homes. What’s the cost of being black? The average borrower FICO score at origination is 730. Due to high unemployment among blacks due to the virus, African Americans will have even lower FICO scores which will result in a severe decline in home ownership thereby expanding the wealth gap.

Assets and Income

During times of economic hardship or depression African Americans lose more wealth than their white counterparts. The median income gap between white and black families also widens during an economic downturn leading to blacks having less resources to draw on when things get really difficult. What’s the cost of being black? The cost is that when the economic downturn is over and the economy begins to grow, people of color are in a weakened economic condition and cannot benefit from the post recession economy and asset appreciation.

Tax and Savings

The U.S. tax code prioritizes savings in certain assets over other savings. Retirement savings accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), as well as mortgage borrowing to finance a primary residence, receive preferential treatment under the tax code. Yet blacks are less likely to work in jobs that carry benefits such as retirement savings due to historical occupational segregation. What’s the cost of being black? These obstacles translate into fewer tax advantages and fewer chances to benefit from recent stock and housing market gains, resulting in significantly less wealth for blacks when compared to white Americans.




#Lamentations with Dr. Jaime Kowlessar

The urban scholar and poetic genius of the pavement Tupac Shakur, so eloquently said, “I suffered through the years, and shed so many tears Lord, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears.” The reality for many of us is that we have shed a lot of tears because we’ve lost so many peers. From Covid-19 to the recent untimely deaths of our brothers and sisters at the hands of law enforcement, it appears to be turning for the worse everyday. Just like Tupac, Jeremiah shed some tears as well. In the book of Lamentations 3:20 says, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.”

When we lament, pray, and fast we are not only acknowledging pain and suffering, we are also saying that we believe that God can fix it.  

Fast

Today we are asking you to fast. We are asking for all believers go ask God to give us the power to “Loose the Bands of Wickedness.”  Isa. 58:6 says, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”( KJV)

Pray

In America there are many in our country who are wrongly imprisoned. We arrest and warehouse more bodies in prisons than any other developed country. Our justice system is not equal. Today, I want you to pray for the end of mass incarceration. As we fast and pray that the bands of wickedness be released, I encourage you to call on God to remove the systemic structures and policies that hold black people back from living a full life. We are praying for just housing policies, community investment, change to infrastructure, and better funding for our schools.  

Act

After we have prayed and lamented, now it’s the time to act. There are so many ways that we can express our faith through charity and activism. We are asking you to joining a local nonprofit organization that shares your common interests and that is already fighting for systemic change. You can show up at your local city council meetings, and meet your elected representatives and ask them what they are doing for your community. Last, but definitely not least you can set up a courageous conversation with a group of friends and talk about the ways that God wants to use you to advocate for change.   




Lamentations: A Call to Action

An Interfaith Call for Prayer, Fasting, and Protest

When the first group of Africans were brought to the shores of Jamestown, Virginia in August of 1619 our nation’s greatest values and pursuits were eclipsed by white America’s intentional, violent, and systematic dehumanization of African people. Such trauma has only persisted and evolved resulting in the continual destruction of the descendants of African slaves for over 400 years. Blacks have thus committed themselves, even from the very beginning, to asserting and fighting for their freedom, their right to exist with dignity, and ultimately be recognized as a human being. Such violence and oppression has stained American soil with the blood of innocent black men, women and children. 

Today is no different. The descendants of African slaves continue to cry out that #BlackLivesMatter and demand acknowledgement for their humanity. This statement has reached even greater significance as for the last few months blacks have watched helplessly as vigilante thugs in blue uniforms knelt on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN; shot Sean Reed on Facebook Live in Indianapolis, IN; burst into Breonna Taylor’s home killing her dead in Louisville, KY;  and attacked and killed Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Glynn County, GA. In addition to vigilante and state sanctioned violence, black people have had to deal with the burden of unemployment, the responsibility of being an essential worker, and the reality of COVID-19’s potent efficacy in taking black lives. Whether due to white violence or this recent coronavirus, blacks find themselves in a perpetual state of grief with no end in sight. In the midst of all these tragedies we need to find time to weep and lament.  

Lament

Soon-Chan Rah in his book, Prophetic Lament says, Lament is the language of God. “Lament in the Bible is a liturgical response to the reality of suffering and engages God in the context of pain and trouble. The hope of lament is that God would respond to human suffering [in a way] that is wholeheartedly communicated through lament. Unfortunately, lament is often missing from the narrative of the American church.”  In spite of the fullness of sin’s destruction on the Earth and on humanity, we have forgotten how to lament before God about our pain and concerns. Our Christianity has divested itself of the hope and glory of weeping with God about the brokenness of our world. 

This aversion to lament is contrary to Scripture as more than half of the Psalms in the Bible are laments unto God. In fact, the book of Lamentations is an entire book about the destruction of Israel and how God and the prophet lamented over that destruction. Lamentations 1:8 says:

Jerusalem sinned greatly,

Therefore she has become an unclean thing.

All who honored her despise her

Because they have seen her nakedness;

Even she herself groans and turns away.

In other words, when we see destruction it should cause us to groan, even turn away from looking at it. Scripture reveals that lament is the language of prayer. Lament is the kind of language God expects of our prayers in regards to the destruction caused by racism, xenophobia, and every kind of injustice produced by sin.

The Invitation

As ministers of God, Pastor Victor Bartley, Pastor Michael Kelly, MESSAGE Magazine and Raise Your Voice are asking leaders of all faiths and races to join them in a collective action of lament. The nation has recently lamented over the hundreds of thousands whose lives were lost to coronavirus COVID-19. In this spirit of such a beautiful act of outcry, we invite our nation to lament with us over the hundreds of thousands of black lives lost to white supremacy, domestic terrorism, and police brutality.

We will begin this journey of lament on June 6th being led through 7 days of fasting, prayer, and protest by leaders and clergy of various faith traditions. On the MESSAGE Magazine website you will find daily devotional videos along with instructions on what to pray for, what to fast from, and how to protest. This week of fasting, prayer, and protest will culminate on Saturday, June 13th with a National Day of Lament. We ask that you join us in a virtual reading of the following litany led by Pastor Michael Kelly at the Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church and Dr. Jaime Kowlessar of the City Temple SDA Church. 

Prayer of Lament

Let us pray together:

God of  justice, we are outraged,

as violence in our country begets violence.

We are outraged at the murder of African American life.

We are outraged at police violence sanctioned by the State.

We are outraged by the idea that guns make us safe.

We acknowledge our complicity by not challenging racism, our country’s original sin.

We acknowledge our complicity in not recognizing the power imbalance between State violence and the violence of those who are oppressed.

We lament the loss of life,  

We lament the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and every other whose life was taken prematurely.

We lament families torn apart and communities shattered.

We lament the history of violence in this country against people of color.

We lament that this violence continues today.

We pray God, for Your liberation to come.

We pray God, for Your comfort to fill the hearts of all who mourn.

We pray God, for Your strength as we seek to embody the deeds of love and justice.

God, hear our prayer.

 

A Call to Action

In addition, we ask that pastors, leaders, and content creators use their own platforms on June 13th to preach, teach, and speak about the power of lament and their moral and spiritual responsibility to cry out against racism and police brutality. If possible, we encourage you to lead your own congregations and spiritual gatherings in a reading of this litany on your respective day of worship. 

To conclude our national lament, on June 19th we want to celebrate the historical advancement of African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the building of Black Wall Street. In honor of our ancestors we are encouraging everyone to invest in black businesses for 8 days. The New Wall Street initiative led out by Pastor Michael Kelly and the Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church is encouraging us, as much as possible, to exclusively buy black. To assist with this action, a list of vendors and stores will be distributed on social media to direct you where to patronize for various goods.

 

The Dallas Black Clergy has put together an economic campaign and plan for economic revival in our communities. If you are looking for a template, or idea for your context then I would encourage you to visit DallasBlackClergy.com for ideas, tools, and recommendations.  

We believe that we must shift the social and spiritual atmosphere with lament through prayer and fasting. But we also believe in shifting the social and political climate with direct action, protest, and economic strategy. It’s time we stop looking for a hero, and become the heroes we seek. 

 

Signed,

Dr. Jaime Kowlessar, RAISE YOUR VOICE (Dallas, TX)

Pastor Michael B. Kelly, Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church (Riverside, CA)

Pastor Victor K. Bartley, Baldwin’s Chapel SDA Church (High Point, NC); New Life SDA Church (Lexington, NC)

MESSAGE Magazine




Protest With Dimes, Not Just Signs

Demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality concerning policing tactics and excessive use of force on television has brought America to an inflection point. However, we have been here before. Indeed, you must realize that social injustice cannot survive without capitalism and economics. The greatest tragedy of this moment and movement, will be the failure to leverage your economic spending power in protest for equality and social justice reform. There is a cost to being black! Failure to reconsider and change how or where you spend your money or what businesses you support, may mean that you are complicit with the institutions and systems which perpetuate black cost. What is the cost of being black? Here are some cost to consider.

Home Ownership

The Federal Housing Administration policies, published in their 1936 underwriting Manual,  established housing segregation. The policy stated that “a change in social or racial occupancy generally leads to instability and a reduction in values.” What’s the cost of being black? There are some communities where people of color would not “qualify” for loans to purchase homes,  because they would bring down the value of the neighborhood. Basically, you can’t live here or we don’t want you here. Additionally, the same house in a black neighborhood, if relocated to a white neighborhood, would immediately appreciate in value by an average of over twenty percent (15%).

Vehicle Ownership

According to a 2018 National Fair Housing report, 62.5% of blacks and other minorities who were better qualified than whites, were offered more costly car purchasing financing options. In other words, even though you have a better credit score, have an emergency fund, paid your credit card balances on time or even never filed bankruptcy, you are paying more for the car you are currently driving. What’s the cost of being black? The cost on average was that over the life of the car loan, blacks and other minorities payed an additional Two-Thousand, Six Hundred Dollars ($2,600.00) for their vehicle.

Vehicle Insurance

According to a consumer American Federation Report, African Americans who live in minority neighborhoods or zip codes pay higher automobile insurance premiums than white drivers in mostly similar situated neighborhoods. The report reveals that premiums were higher for blacks irrespective of their driving history or income. What’s the cost of being black? The cost of being black is that African Americans end up paying auto insurance premiums which were seventy percent (70%) higher than whites.

There are numerous examples of organizations and businesses who practice economic injustice. Instead of continuing to support those business and thereby continue to perpetuate economic injustice register your protest with dimes, not signs!




#WhatsTheMessage Repost of EP 16

In light of the recent killing of George Floyd we encourage you to watch a recent episode we did with Rev. Jim Wallis and Sgt. Don Jackson on the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Sean Reed. May we continue to fight against racial injustice and heal our land.

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In this episode Carmela and Claudia welcome Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners, and Sgt. Don Jackson (a.k.a. Diop Kamau), Founder of policeabuse.com to #WhatsTheMessagePodcast. They discuss at length the cases of #AhmaudArbery, #BreonnaTaylor, and #SeanReed. In this episode they articulate the correlation between sin and racism, discuss the broken criminal justice system and the inherent malpractice in policing, as well as solutions and points of engagement for the general public. This is a critical and eye opening episode that you do not want to miss. Be sure to share and subscribe.

You can read an informative article by Editor-in-Chief, Carmela Monk-Crawford on Sgt. Don Jackson’s work and his take on previous police and vigilante justice killings by clicking on the following link: https://www.messagemagazine.com/issues/2017-januaryfebruary/sure-sins-will-find/

You can follow Sgt. Don Jackson and his work at www.policeabuse.com and on Twitter @diopkamau.

You can follow Rev. Jim Wallis and his work at www.sojo.net and on Twitter @jimwallis.

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