“All Lives Matter” My Ass…

Michael Slager. That is the name of the man who murdered Walter Scott. And if we can learn anything from the fact that Michael Slager is not currently in prison, it is that Colin Kaepernick is right to take a knee–No one has any business honoring a country that cannot bring justice to the murderer of yet another unarmed black man, shot in the back as he ran away from yet another officer whose motto, “To Protect & Serve,” seems less appropriate than “Comply Or Be Killed.” In his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” And as I write this, Michael Slager is sleeping in his own bed tonight… In a warm house in the state that started the Civil War. I can’t imagine a clearer message that Black Lives DON’T Matter than the fact that this clear-cut murder case could possibly end in a hung jury. In case you don’t already know, here are a few of the facts from the case:

  • 37% of the residents of North Charleston are white. 80% of the police force is white.
  • Walter Scott was pulled over for a broken taillight… The same traffic violation that led to the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
  • When Michael Slager–the officer who murdered an unarmed man by shooting him in the back as he ran away–pulled over Walter Scott, he was ironically listening to the Everlast song “What It’s Like.” The song has lyrics that say, “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues.” It also tells the story of a man who got shot and killed, whose wife and kids “had to wake up to hear the news.” Walter Scott had four children.
  • Family members speculated that the reason Walter Scott ran was because he owed nearly $18,000 in back child support and was afraid of going to jail for that… A fact that made him a deadbeat dad, but should NEVER have made him a dead dad.
  • Both the murderer and the man who was murdered served in the Coast Guard.
  • As 50 year old Walter Scott ran away, officer Slager fired eight shots at him… Hitting him with five. As Walter Scott lay motionless and dying, face-down on the ground, Slager cuffs him, someone yells “Put your hands behind your back!” and the video shows that Officer Slager ran over to where they were standing, picked up the taser off the ground, and planted it next to Walter Scott’s lifeless body.

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    In his defense, he didn’t realize he was being filmed when he planted evidence next to Walter Scott’s body. So…

  • Almost immediately, crowdfunding sites were set up to help pay Officer Slager’s legal fees. After GoFundMe shut down their fundraiser, Indiegogo raised over one third of their goal in just three days… Before public pressure caused them to suspend the campaign as well.
  • The video of Walter Scott’s murder was not immediately released. Feidin Santana, who recorded the murder on his phone, said that he feared his life would be in danger if he showed anyone the video. He considered just erasing the video and moving away from Charleston.
  • The hung jury who created the mistrial in this case consisted of six white men, five white women, and one black man.
  • Though there is sure to be a retrial, one thing is for certain: If this murder had not been videoed, there is not a chance in hell that Michael Slager would ever be convicted of the murder that he clearly committed. If you can’t get twelve people to agree with clear video evidence, then you surely aren’t going to get a conviction from something as “flimsy”as eyewitness testimony…  Just think of all the HUNDREDS of people who are killed by police every year whose shootings AREN’T videotaped by an eyewitness with a camera on his phone.
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This is not a man who is direct threat to this officer’s life.

The fact that Walter Scott’s killer is not behind bars does not simply hurt North Charleston… The harm is not limited to South Carolina (A state that is preparing for a symbolic atoning scapegoat for its sins with the upcoming sacrifice of the very peacefully-arrested confessed murderer, Dylan Roof, who killed nine black church members as they met for prayer)… The lack of justice here literally hurts the country. And it’s not just because of the truth of Martin Luther King’s words that remind us Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This injustice injures the fabric of our nation. Here is what former Chief Justice Warren Burger said in a speech to the American Bar Association in 1970:

“A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people, and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: [1] that people come to believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; [2] that people who have long been exploited in the smaller transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; [3] that people come to believe the law – in the larger sense – cannot fulfill its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets.”

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A man of the people…

If you’re a white liberal (like myself) who is feeling depressed about a lying, misogynistic, narcissistic, racist, fascist, startlingly-unprepared megalomaniac being voted into the highest office in the land, and you’re still in mourning over the realization that this country is not as great as you thought it was–just remember: It could always be worse… You could be black. You could have daily messages sent your way that your life–as well as the lives of so many other People of Color around you–DO NOT matter… Even as a bunch of white “Christians” yelling “All Lives Matter” have just elected a man who called himself the “Law & Order Candidate,” appointed a top Law Enforcement Officer who was declared too racist to be a federal judge, and has called for “Stop & Frisk” to be used in all major cities (not coincidentally, the areas where most of the black folks live). Meanwhile, I’m feeling more and more like the horrified white people on this perfect Saturday Night Live sketch, saying, “Oh my God… I think America is racist.”

When someone says the words “Black Lives Matter,” they are not making a statement of how things ARE… They are making a statement of how things SHOULD BE. All live clearly DON’T matter in this country. This is proven on a daily basis. It is proven every time white men survive encounters with police that black men would never have lived through… Like this man in the video below who murdered his wife, injured his daughter, and led police on a dangerous chase that ended up with cars on fire… Just to leap from a burning car and charge at an officer whose gun was drawn. He was practically begging to be shot, but I guess the officer didn’t feel that threatened by him… Watch.

The fact that all lives DON’T matter is proven when a white man with a history of road rage incidents guns down and murders a former NFL player in the middle of the road in the middle of the day, and then that same man is allowed to go home without charges being brought against him (until the public demanded justice for Joe McKnight’s killing).

The fact that all lives DON’T matter is proven when a retired corrections officer with brown skin ends up in the hospital after officers severely beat him while he was grocery shopping in a supermarket, roughly matching the description of a nondescript black man they were looking for… Watch.

This is the reason it is so messed up when people say “All Lives Matter.” No! They clearly don’t. If ever evidence existed that Black Lives DON’T Matter in this country, everything about this Walter Scott case is it… Where a white man gets caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back as he runs away, then gets caught planting evidence next to his body, and STILL justice is delayed. All lives DO NOT matter… and until they do, I join the millions of people who see this systemic injustice for what it is, and I say those same hopeful, angry, powerful, and prophetic words:

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

I am sorry for being away for a couple weeks. This election has got me all messed up. If I let myself, I could easily slip into months of feeling beaten and overwhelmed and hopeless and depressed, but the main reason I am writing right now is because of my Patrons. I feel a sense of obligation and responsibility to you folks, and I am genuinely grateful for that. Thank you, honestly, from the bottom of my heart for your support. It means so much to me. I’m going to try to write my way out of this funk I’m in, and hopefully I’m going to take some of you with me. If you’d like to support this blog, you can. By BECOMING A PATRON, by LEAVING A TIP ON PAYPAL, or just by following and sharing on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER. More than ever, we need to Love each other, and protect the Truth, and remind each other of Beauty.

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How To Keep Jeff Sessions From Becoming Attorney General

Donald Trump has selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the United States Attorney General. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Who the hell is Jeff Sessions?” Well, I’m glad you asked…

Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III. That’s…  his actual name. In 1986, when he was nominated by Ronald Reagan to be a Federal Judge, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected his nomination because of multiple allegations of racism. Here are a few of the highlights of Jeff Sessions’ history of racism:

  • He called a white civil rights attorney working with black clients a “disgrace to his race.”
  • He “joked” with a black attorney that the only problem he had with the Ku Klux Klan was the fact that they smoked marijuana… He made that statement in reference to a case where a Klan member had hung a black man.
  • He called that same attorney “Boy” on multiple occasions, and used the word the N-word to refer to a black man he considered a political enemy.
  • He called the NAACP and the ACLU (as well as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) “Un-American” and “communist-inspired,” and he accused them of trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
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Though, in his defense, it’s got to be really hard to come from Alabama and have a name like “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third” and NOT end up being racist…

I can’t post all of the pieces of evidence showing Jeff Sessions’ history of racism here, but you can CLICK HERE to see an article with many pieces of evidence, including minutes from the Judiciary Committee’s hearing and the testimony of people who worked with him. Or you could just research it yourself. Google “Jeff Sessions” and “Racism,” and look for articles that have actual evidence. And links to reputable news sources.

After his racism disqualified him from his federal appointment (at that time, only the second time in 50 years the Senate had rejected an appointment), apparently the people of Alabama didn’t think those bullet points were that big of a deal, because they elected him to be a Senator. And Senators in Alabama don’t change very often–He has been in office for 20 years, and he is still the junior Senator. Because despite their calls for “draining the swamp,” republicans keep reelecting the incumbents over and over again. And now Donald Trump has asked him to be the Attorney General.

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Here we see Jeff Sessions showing how many “black friends” it takes to not be racist.

Most people don’t even know what the Attorney General does. The AG is basically the chief law enforcement officer, the chief lawyer for the United States Government, and the head of the Department of Justice. This is a very big job. And it has very big ramifications for how law enforcement responds to issues of civil rights. Look it up. It is a BIG. DEAL. As Attorney General, Eric Holder investigated use of force by police, financial regulations, voter ID laws, environmental policy (Sessions is a climate change sceptic), and a host of other Constitutional rights that the AG can decide whether or not to focus on. The implications of a person of Jeff Sessions’ character holding that position are–to use a term made popular by a dumpster fire and a national disgrace–YUGE.

So please listen–During his candidacy, Trump said so many outrageously offensive things and completely false things that it overwhelmed anyone’s ability to adequately respond to them… It was basically a war of attrition with horrifying and untrue statements. By the time people could attempt to respond to something awful he had said (and inform people as to why it was dangerous or wildly offensive or false), he would have already said ANOTHER awful thing that was dangerous or wildly offensive or false. Now it seems Trump is applying the same strategy with his Cabinet appointees. A few days after naming Alt Right leader and Breitbart head Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, he taps Jeff-Fucking-Sessions as his pick for Attorney General. And the thing is, I don’t have time to go into all of the many, many reasons why picking avowed white nationalist Steve Bannon is uniquely horrifying (though, if the words “avowed white nationalist” aren’t enough for some reason, his own wife has accused him of being anti-semitic). And just when people are trying to get organized around opposition to Steve Bannon, Trump names ANOTHER shit show as one of his top Cabinet positions–A name that 95% of the people in this country don’t recognize. And then, as people work to educate the citizens about how disqualified and dangerous  Jeff Sessions is, he’ll throw out yet another name… And people will slip through. Already people are forgetting about Steve Bannon. How are people supposed to respond to such a steady stream of disappointment? Honestly, it is so overwhelming that it makes me want to shut my computer, lie in bed, and just cry…

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This is Senator Sessions demonstrating the face he would make if there started being black men on playing golf at his country club’s course…  

But here is an important difference between the position of Chief Strategist and the position of Attorney General: Attorney General is subject to Congressional approval. And that is where YOU can come in. That is where YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I read an article recently that said phone calls are the most effective way of getting a message through to your elected representative… That emails and letters can be largely ignored, but PHONE CALLS have to be answered and dealt with by staffers. So here is what I want you to do.

  1.  Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. It’s a scary time, but maybe this will be the sort of scare that will WAKE PEOPLE UP.
  2. Realize that even with this steady stream of garbage our new president elect is throwing at us,  WE ARE NOT POWERLESS. I might be powerless… You might be powerless… But WE are NOT powerless!
  3. CLICK RIGHT HERE to find out the telephone numbers of your elected representatives. You just need to put in your Zip Code, and it will give you the names and numbers of all your people.
  4. Take a couple minutes out of your day and CALL THEM. Be firm and in control and not mean. Tell them you are NOT okay with a person like Jeff Sessions being the Attorney General. Tell them you will put whatever energy you have into electing someone different if they approve him. If you are a Trump supporter, let them know that nominating white supremacists for Cabinet positions is NOT what you voted for.
  5. Tell a friend. Share this post. Encourage the people in your sphere of influence to call their representatives as well. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the garbage in the world… Look for all of the places of love and hope and light.

At a time when only the most overtly racist white supremacists were supporting Trump, Jeff Sessions was one of the first in line. And now, he–and people like Steve Bannon–are being rewarded with Cabinet positions. At a time like this–a time of elevated attacks that are racially and religiously motivated–we cannot have a person with a history of racism being the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the land. This is the exact opposite of saying “Black Lives Matter.” If Trump wants to have a white supremacist as his Chief Strategist, realistically there is nothing we can do to stop him… I doubt that appealing to a narcissist’s “sense of right and wrong” will have much of an influence.  But we CAN stop him from making a man with a long history of racism the Attorney General of the United States of America. We HAVE to. We need to FLOOD the phone lines of our lawmakers and representatives with calls voicing our disapproval of this choice. Please. PLEASE. PLEASE help me keep this man from becoming Attorney General.

If you love this blog, SUPPORT IT. Boost it on PayPal. Share it! Help me get the word out… You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, thank you to my newest Patron, Karla Underwood. WE ARE NOT POWERLESS!

 

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No. I Won’t Get Over It.

Yeah… We get it. The fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you are sexist… It just means that–for you–the litany of wildly offensive and overtly misogynistic statements he made were not significant enough to disqualify him. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not make you anti-Muslim… It just means that–for you–a presidential candidate suggesting a registry for an entire religion and implementing a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was not a big enough deal for you to vote for someone else. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you hate Mexicans… It just means that–for you–characterizing Mexicans as criminals and rapists (while admitting that “some, I assume, are good people”) wasn’t really a deal breaker. And yeah, the fact that you voted for Trump does not mean that you are anti-gay… It just means that–for you–his choice of a running mate who is arguably the most anti-gay governor in the country was not that serious a character flaw. And FINE! The fact that you voted for Trump does not make you a racist… It just means that–for you–the fact that Donald Trump removed people from his rallies based on the color of their skin, encouraged violence against Black Lives Matter protesters, and suggested a Federal Judge couldn’t be fair because of his race (among other things) wasn’t a compelling enough reason him to lose your vote. Voting for Trump does not mean you’re a bigot… It just means that you are willing to support a candidate who has the endorsement of every white supremacist group in the nation.

Voting for Trump is like wearing a racist T-shirt and saying you bought it because you liked the color… The message is still the same.

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Relax, man… I bought it because I really liked this color blue!

 

And I realize every candidate is a compromise in some way. Every candidate has faults.  My vote for Hillary Clinton was a compromise. She was too cozy with Wall Street. Her interest in People of Color sometimes came across as more political than sincere. She’s more hawkish than I’d like for her to be. And I was willing to compromise those things… Some for the other good things she would bring as a leader, and some because the alternative would have been so much worse. But I promise I wouldn’t have been willing to compromise on a candidate who seemed to embrace the dehumanization of so many vulnerable populations at every turn. For eight years, the republican party has been acting like “compromise” is a four letter word… But the party of “No Compromise” just compromised all over itself. The embracing of Trump just shows the right is willing to compromise on morality and human rights… Where the right refuses to compromise is on economic issues. There is that one shoestring issue of abortion that allows them to try to claim the moral high ground… But if we’re being honest, every other moral issue has been abandoned by the political right in its quest for political power.

And they have it. They have the political power. So for many of the people in the groups I mentioned above–women, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ, People of Color–this can be a scary time. And it is also a scary time for people like me–White, straight, Christian men–who know and love many of those people who are not only feeling outnumbered, but now the people who seem openly hostile to them have all the political power.

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Get over it…

So I hope you can understand why some people might be feeling more than a little unsafe. For many, the election of Donald Trump is like confirming the suspicion that you’re living in a country where A LOT of the people are willing to tolerate discrimination, injustice, and oppression if it means them having a chance at getting their better-paying jobs back. And that is a scary message people are receiving. And I hope you can understand why some of us are grieving right now. It’s not just because “our side” lost the election… People are coming to terms with the fact that so many in this country are willing to overlook SO MUCH at the mere chance that an inexperienced, narcissistic, con man’s promises of economic gain might be true. People ARE hurting financially. But seeing so many loved ones–friends and family–willing to embrace an ideology which blames and demonizes people of color, the poor, the immigrant, the OTHER for that hurting… That is enough to shake the very foundations of my belief that we–that humans–are slowly getting better.

And now, people are grieving. Genuinely grieving. And the prevailing sentiment from our friends on the right has been this: Get over it. We are told “You lost–Get over it” by people who fly the flag of a lost Civil War from 150 years ago. A week after a candidate lost an election but won the popular vote, we are told to “accept our new president” by people who spent years spreading birther conspiracies believing President Obama was a Kenyan (one of those people being our President elect). People who swear that they are not misogynistic and sexist are telling us to “Grow a pair” and “Man up!” And we are accused of being too “politically correct” by people who talk about boycotts because their Starbucks cup is the wrong color… Or accused of being too “sensitive” by people who literally lose their shit when someone wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And in response to the protests around the country, I am hearing people say things like, “You didn’t see us throwing a fit when Obama won,” and posting memes like this:

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Maybe that’s because Obama didn’t run on a platform that caused white supremacists to have a celebration parade…

And we have the President Elect criticizing the actions of “professional protesters” with tweets like this…

Even though, after a different open and fair election, he himself suggested marching on Washington in a tweet from four years ago…

In addition, in some recently-deleted 2012 tweets, Trump wrote “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” (even though Obama DID, in fact, end up winning both the popular vote and the electoral collage vote in the 2012 election versus Romney), as well as writing, “More votes equals a loss… revolution!”

But beyond the bewildering hypocrisy of it all, there is something more sinister to take note of… And it is this: The disturbing trend of equating compassion with weakness. It starts with casting “political correctness” as an enemy… Where a desire for people to treat others with respect turns into something that feels like a tyrannical policing of words and even thoughts. Resentment grows, as people–for so long–feel like they can’t say the things they want to say, make the jokes they want to make, or even admit the feelings they have been feeling. Resentment turns to anger as they are called names: Racist. Sexist. Bigot. And beyond that, they are dismissed as too stupid to “get it.” I am guilty of this. And when these names come out, the other side dismissed this criticisms as “Playing the race card.” If someone on the left points out a place where a person is being victimized, someone on the right accuses people of “Playing the victim.” Meanwhile, no one listens, no one learns, and no one loves. Both side drift further apart… And before long, it seems like EVERYTHING is “playing the race card,” “playing the victim,” political correctness… People start saying things like, “I don’t see color,” and “But we have a black president.” And terms like “hate speech”and “safe space” and “trigger warning” become punchlines to a joke… And I’m left wondering how we can ever get back to a place where we can talk to each other.

But here is the truth: If we get to the point where we look at something as basic and human and good as Compassion and Empathy as signs of weakness, we are in deep, deep trouble.

  • Helping someone who needs help is NOT weakness.
  • Asking for help is NOT weakness.
  • Mourning with those who mourn is NOT weakness.
  • Weeping with those who weep is NOT weakness.
  • Showing emotion is NOT weakness.
  • Showing concern for someone who doesn’t feel safe is NOT weakness.
  • Acknowledging that words can hurt people is NOT weakness.
  • Empathizing with hurting people is NOT weakness.
  • Caring about vulnerable people is NOT weakness.
  • Admitting you are afraid is NOT weakness.

Strength is not measured in self-reliance, lack of empathy, and being able to hide/bury emotions. The strength of humanity is not found only in stereotypically masculine traits. We are at our strongest when we are focused on WE instead of just ME, and we are at our most resilient when we are caring for those who need our help. And if you want to know why people are afraid, consider the fact that many of the people who voted for Trump (as well as Trump himself) seem to consider compassion for others as a sign of “weakness.” Talk about an “Unsafe Space.” I can imagine no more dangerous society than one which equates Compassion with “Weakness.” Our strength is not in our thirst for more… Not in our ambition… Not in our power over others. Our greatest strength is our compassion. It is what makes us beautiful, and it is the very image of God in us. So no… I won’t “Man up.” I won’t “Grow some balls.” And no… I won’t get over it.

In West Virginia, a county official named Pamela Taylor wrote a Facebook status that said, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a (sic) ape in heels.” And as a comment on this woman’s status, Beverly Whaling, the Mayor of Clay, wrote, “Just made my day Pam.” I guarantee you that both of these women voted for Trump. This doesn’t mean that everyone who voted for Trump is as racist as these two women… But if you’re NOT, it SHOULD mean that you should be standing up and saying this kind of hatred is not okay. These words are an act of violence against whole groups of people, and there are more each day. I will not be tolerant of your intolerance. And when people vandalize a sign for a Spanish Language Church Service like they did right here…

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… It means that I will be standing up and calling bigotry what it is: Bigotry. I will continue to point out white supremacy when I see it. I will not be afraid of the ones who equate compassion with weakness. I will weep with those who weep, and I will mourn with those who mourn. I will do what I can to let people who are hurting and afraid know that I am on their side… Not because I am weak, but because I am strong. And I believe that as we continue to proclaim the strength of compassion, people will be reminded who they are. And what it really means to be human.

One last bit… It doesn’t take much. Yesterday at a gas station, a woman was pumping gas next to me. She had brown skin, and wore a red hijab. I looked at her standing there… A woman. A black woman. A black, Muslim woman. A triple threat. As my van filled up, I walked around to her side of the pump and said, “Hi there.” She jumped a little when I said it. I said, “Are you having a good day?” She said, “Yes… Why do you ask?” I smiled and said, “I’m just checking in. Nice to meet you.” Caring about vulnerable people is NOT weakness. Our compassion… Our empathy… Our LOVE is our strength. And it is the hope for this broken world.

If you love this blog, SUPPORT IT. Boost it on PayPal. Share it! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. But most of all, take care of each other. Love you guys.

 

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On President Trump, From A Heartbroken Christian

Forgive me for not writing sooner. It has been a hard couple days. And since it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, I might as well give it a try…

For me, my support of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate was never really about some misplaced hope that she was going to be a leader who somehow “saved” our country in some way. Honestly, it was mostly about limiting harm. I supported her because I felt like she–of the two candidates who actually had a chance at winning–was the better choice for a person like myself… One who believes that supporting and standing in solidarity with vulnerable and oppressed populations as a spiritual practice is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. My firm belief is that our kids get this truth better than we do, and slowly–as bigoted people get old and die–the people of the world get closer to loving their neighbors… Closer to being able to love like Jesus… Closer to being able to see the humanity and divinity and inherent worth in all people… Closer to this thing called “the Kingdom of God.” But, like many of you, I am very impatient. Beneath the stages of grief inside of me, there is a very deep “HOW LONG, OH LORD?” welling up inside of me.

So listen–I can’t put it all together right now, but here are seven things on my mind during this difficult time… As many of us struggle with the question, “Now what?”

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Image of God, image of God, image of God, image of God…

1) I hate how much I hate right now. It is really hard for me to deal with this. I usually expect people to be generally good. I don’t like feeling suspicious. I am a person who believes in an Enemy-Loving God. It is not at all impressive or out of the ordinary for people to love those whom they find easy to love. What IS impressive–and, I believe, transformational–is when people love the ones who are directly against them. I am doing a terrible job with this right now. At this point in my life, it is easy for me to love the Muslim and the queer and the immigrant and the persons of color and the poor and the stepped on and the expendables. But I read the posts of people calling themselves “Christians,” and I find very little grace inside myself. I am filled with anger. And sadness. And a dehumanizing revulsion for people I know are made in the image of God. I’m ashamed of how readily I feel this, even as I write this sentence. I have identified my enemy. It is the sort of person who uses their Christianity to defend hatred and racism and bigotry and sexism and selfishness and greed… the sort of person who defends their support of policies and leaders who install systems which reinforce ideals that are anti-Jesus in every way. And I cannot–for the life of me–figure out how to love them. But I know that’s the only way forward.  I suppose we call out hypocrisy when we see it, we stand lovingly with the ones being harmed, we remind ourselves as often as possible that our enemies are image-bearers of a God who loves them with an infinitely love, and we remember when we were stupid too. And we stay hopeful… Even when it seems crazy and pointless.

2) Separating the Christians from the “Christianists.” We need to figure out a way to distinguish between the sort of Christian who stands with the powerless and oppressed, and the ones who claim that term who use their “Christianity” as a means to some sort of power grab. I like the term “Christianist.” The word “Evangelical” is just irredeemable now. It’s never coming back. 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. My preference would be to keep using the word “Christian,” because I truly believe this is what Jesus was about, and I don’t want it to be so easy for “Christianists” to dismiss us. People say that religion and politics don’t mix, but my belief in standing with “The Other” is a direct result of my spirituality, and that belief has political implications. I don’t believe that we’re all getting out of here soon in some giant rapture… We are responsible for making this place better. We are in change of taking care of the planet. We are our brother’s keeper. We are agents of change, and our hearts cry out for justice. We work with God at establishing equity and human rights for ALL people, and we make the valleys high and the mountains low. These things are inherently political… And if people calling themselves “Christians” stand against them, I will gladly stand with any Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist, or Atheist  AGAINST the Christianists. But really… Honestly–Whatever… Keep the name “Christian” if you want. Keep the buildings. Keep it all… Just know that I am different than you.

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The poor are moochers.

3) I hate to tell you this, but God is not in control. People are posting things like, “Don’t freak out… God’s got this.” No. God doesn’t “got this.” This is the mentality of people 3000 years ago who believed that when it didn’t rain, it was because “God was angry,” and it is the mentality of people who believe that God gives people cancer to “teach them something.” It is the heresy of “Everything happens for a reason,” and it turns God into a monster. It is Miracle Gro For Atheists. Everything that happens is not God’s “will.” Stop saying crap like that. Don’t put this on God… This shit is on US. And speaking of which…

4) Trump’s election was not the fault of People of Color not voting. A while ago, I almost wrote a blog post titled “Dear People Of Color: Please Save Us From Donald Trump.” But I didn’t. Because creating the foundation of white supremacy that makes a candidate like Donald Trump able to get elected, and then begging POCs to save us from the monster we created… That’s just gross. The reason we have a “President Elect Trump” is NOT because brown people didn’t vote… It’s because white people did. Here’s what that looked like:

It’s not your fault. It’s our fault. And I am so very sorry. Yesterday, I was trying to make a left hand turn by a median, and another car (turning the other way) pulled in front of me, making it impossible for me to complete my turn until he made his turn. When this happened, I shook my head in an “I’m disappointed in you” sort of way. The car had tinted windows, so I couldn’t see inside… But shortly after my disappointed head shake, the window came down to reveal a brown hand flipping me off. I must have looked like I missed it, because a moment later, it came down again–this time he made sure I could see his face as he flipped me the bird. And I was just like, “Yeah, man… I get it. Right now, I’m not a big fan of people who look like me either.” And for white people like me, who thought this man’s election was “unbelievable,” it’s not. It’s very believable. What is unbelievable is the extent of our ignorance to the reality of racism in America. Which leads to this cold reality…

5) This election was a victory for White Supremacy. It’s as simple as that. All of this opposition to “political correctness,” all of this anger against “Social Justice Warriors” and people who play the “Race Card,” all of this fragility to being called a racist and a bigot just because you support a candidate who is a racist and a bigot… It is all just a thinly-disguised strategy for normalizing white supremacy. Just like normalizing Donald Trump is normalizing the white supremacy and sexism and xenophobia and Islamophobia and bigotry that keeps the power and privilege in the hands of white men. And it emboldens the people who are very angry that they can feel their privilege slipping away with every brown face they see. And this emboldened bigotry has consequences:

There are stories of emboldened racism coming in from all over the place. Suddenly, “Go back where you came from” is not as out of fashion as it used to be. I shared a story of a young black woman who lives in a predominantly white community who encountered a woman who said, “Now that Trump will be president, we can get the nigger out of the neighborhood!” These things have real consequences. And right now, people are gloating. But to everyone gloating: You’re celebrating with the KKK. Congrats! Also…

 

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“Jesus is only a hero because he was crucified… I like heroes who WEREN’T crucified.”

6) The majority vote is what got Jesus crucified. There’s a story in the Bible about a supposed custom during a certain festival where the governor would release one prisoner to the people. Pilate asked the people whether they wanted him to release a dangerous criminal named Barabbus, or whether they wanted to release Jesus… Whom Pilate knew was innocent. The people voted for Barabbus. The passage says the people “acted in their own interest.” Now, I’m not calling Hillary Clinton Jesus–not by a long shot–but there are certainly some parallels here. This is democracy in action. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes, when the ones voting are angry and acting out of self-interest, bad stuff happens. But it’s the best system we’ve got. And let’s be real… The reason this election is a big deal is because there are actually a lot of white people who are upset about Trump’s presidency. If it were just black folks who were angry, there wouldn’t be nearly as much noise… Because our privilege amplifies our white voices. And if you’re like me, and you feel way outnumbered by dip shits too, and you feel like your voice isn’t being heard–Congratulations! You have just a very small taste of what it feels like to be a minority. Now go use every bit of your privilege and voice to help those who don’t have either. Which leads me to my last one. Most importantly…

7) There is work to do. There is so much work to do. And here is something true and good:

If you call out racism or sexism or bigotry or any of these “ISMs” and “phobias” that are powered by white supremacy, chances are really good you will trigger people’s defenses. They will credit your speaking up to “political correctness” instead of an appeal to human decency. Keep speaking up. They will treat your ideals of a standard of kindness like it is a punchline to some demented joke. Keep speaking up. We need to do better. Cry. Mourn. Grieve. But don’t give up. Find a way to love. Remember a time you were wrong. Forgive people… Not for them, but because it sets you free. Find someone who feels extra vulnerable and unsafe right now, and give them a hug. Tell them you love them. And for God’s sake, keep speaking up. Not because you have any hope of changing them–Because there are children watching. Here is a glimmer of hope: This is how the future voted…

And as our kids see us speaking up, they instinctively know right from wrong. They will see bravery, and they will gravitate toward it. They will hear our rationality, and it will resonate with their own deep sense of goodness. And before long, the ones who voted for this man will have gotten old and died. And our children–as they often are–will be better than we were at understanding and defending and loving the people who are different than us. And slowly… Sometimes so slowly and imperceptibly it makes me cry while I type words on my computer… Slowly, the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice… And slowly, even now, this world is being transformed into the Kingdom of God.

I have a family. I’d love to be able to support them by writing. Someday, that might be a reality, but in the meantime, every little bit of your support helps. If you value my writing and this blog, and you’d like to be a Patron and give a few dollars a month, you can do that RIGHT HERE. If you’d like to leave a tip or “boost” a post on Facebook, you can give on PAYPAL. These things help so much. What also helps is this: When you connect with something–whether it’s something I’ve written, or something someone else has written–SHARE IT. Share it on Facebook. Share it on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to rattle the cage a bit. Conflict can be uncomfortable and messy, but, again… There are children watching. Show them how to say something when saying something isn’t easy. Disfunction attempts to make speaking up so uncomfortable that people don’t say anything… And when people don’t speak up, things don’t change. And there are some things that really need to change. Be better than disfunction. Be brave. 

 

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

I Was Relieved To Find Out The Des Moines Shooter Looked Like Me

Whenever there is yet another mass shooting in this country, there is this period of time–the time AFTER the news of the shooting breaks, but BEFORE the announcement of the description of the shooter–where I feel this deep sense of uneasiness. I felt that feeling again recently as news broke of two police officers in two different locations near Des Moines, Iowa who were shot down and murdered as they sat in their cars. I mean, there are all sorts of things that go through my head when I hear news like this: I think of the officer’s families, I think about other officers on duty with someone walking around targeting cops, I think of the insanity that is our gun laws… But one of the first things I think about is wondering what the person doing the killing LOOKS like. After hearing about this shooting, I thought, “Please, don’t let this person be a black man claiming some sort of connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.” And I thought, “Dear God, don’t let the shooter have a Muslim-sounding name.” So it came as somewhat of a relief when I heard that the suspect they had in custody was named Scott Michael Greene, and he looked like this:

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Looks like me… Only I’m way more bald, handsome, and happy. And way less murdery.

Consider that for a moment. I was relived that the shooter was a white man–Well, he IS a white man. Strange how we seem a lot less likely to need to use the past tense when the shooters are white… For some reason, they always manage to bring them in alive–Even when they are KNOWN to be armed and dangerous–Even when they have killed multiple people–the authorities bring them in alive, and give them a nice, fair trial. But somehow, black folks pulled over for a broken taillight keep getting killed for reaching for their wallets a little too fast. Anyway, the shooter IS a white man. He is just a bit older than me. We both have beards. Man, even our BEARDS are similar… We both have some reddish color, and we both have a little bit of grey in the chin. And they didn’t mention it, but I’d be willing to bet this guy identifies as a Christian. And even with all those similarities, I didn’t even CONSIDER the possibility that people might look at me differently because I look like this killer: White guy, in his 40’s, Christian, reddish beard with grey in the chin. Now THAT’S privilege.

Relieved. That’s how I felt. I didn’t want the tragic murders of these men to be fuel for ignorant people to have even more of a reason to hate people who are different than them. But a lot of people jumped the gun, and started blaming Black Lives Matter as soon as the news came out that these officers had been shot.

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But, of course, it wasn’t a Black Lives Matter protester. It was a person fitting the description of the vast majority of mass shooters in the country: A person who looks like me. White. And male.

Imagine–JUST IMAGINE–the reaction that there would have been if the killer’s name had been TYRELL Michael Green… EVERY black man and woman would have paid the price  for these killings in some way. And even though one of the few things all Black Lives Matter groups share is a commitment to non-violence, I want you to IMAGINE the reaction if the killer had claimed to do what he did in the name of BLM. There would be talk of WAR. Or if someone claimed this killing had something to do with Islam, how many people would just file this away as “proof” that Islam is a religion focused on killing people, instead of a religion of peace?

But when the killer is a white guy, we don’t make those kinds of leaps… We just assume he must be “mentally ill.” When the killer claims to be a Christian, we don’t start accusing Christianity of not being a “religion of peace,” or talking about putting “a moratorium” on anymore Christians entering the country… We just assume he’s not a “real Christian.” That’s one of the perks of being white in America: When a criminal looks like you, he’s a “lone wolf,” but when he looks like “them,” he’s proof that your fears and prejudices are warranted.

A couple weeks before Scott Michael Greene decided to murder two separate police officers as they sat in their cars, he had a run in with two other officers. He was upset when he heard that some local high school football players were taking a knee during the national anthem, so he went to a game and started waving around a confederate flag. He was asked to leave by school officials, and when police got involved, he got out his phone and took this video… saying they were infringing his 1st Amendment rights. Watch it here:

Now that he has been identified as the shooter, his video is now peppered with over 1000 angry comments, but if you go down far enough in the comments, Greene himself writes about why he was upset. Here is a screen capture of his comments:

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Just in case you’re reading this on your cell phone and that print is too small, he wrote, “I was offended by the blacks sitting through our anthem. Thousands more whites fought and died for their freedom.” Then, a week before killing two cops as they sat in their cars, he wrote, “However this is not about the Armed forces, they are cop haters”  (On a side note, I’ll give you one guess as to who Scott Michael Greene was supporting in this election… As well as every Twitter account but one who prematurely and FALSELY claimed that these murders were committed by someone with ties to Black Lives Matter). And here we are, only two days removed from the ambush killings of two white police officers, and the story is already fading from the headlines. But I guarantee you this story wouldn’t fade so fast if a black man had killed those officers. You’d see his black face on every news channel. And they would mine every bit of his social media presence to find even a HINT of racial anger… And then racist people everywhere–already upset over Beyoncé singing on the CMA Awards–would fan the flames of anger and fear, and allude to a “race war.” But never mind, never mind… It wasn’t racial–It was a WHITE guy, right? He was probably just crazy. Cue talking points about mental health, needing more “law & order,” “guns don’t kill people–people kill people,” etc…

But this WAS racial. It was a racist, confederate flag waving man, who has had MANY run ins with law enforcement, was known to call people “niggers,” who was upset about “the blacks” not standing for the anthem, and then very angered that some white police officers made him and his confederate flag leave the football game. Angry enough to kill people, it seems…

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Like Hope, only awful…

Here’s the thing: If you want to be afraid of someone, stop making it about what they look like, and consider what they believe. The real danger is an ideology of “Do things my way, or else.” And this is the main reason Trump supporters scare the actual hell out of me. It’s not because I need a “safe space” or “trigger warnings.” It’s because they tend toward “Authoritarianism,” which is the belief that we need to enforce strict obedience to authority–especially that of the government–at the expense of personal freedom. They follow a man who idolizes Vladimir Putin, who intimidates, imprisons, and kills people who are critical of him. They follow a man who wants to make it easier to sue the press if they write something he doesn’t like. They follow a man who encourages people at his rallies to “knock the crap” out of protesters, and offers to pay for their legal fees. They follow a man who hints at “second amendment people” taking care of Hillary Clinton. They follow a man who claims that the election is rigged and the polls are fake when his numbers are down, but has no problem with those numbers when they show him gaining. And all it takes is a little bit of stupid to transfer that kind of rhetoric into actions like this Trump supporter who planned a mass shooting at a Mosque. Or the actions of these Trump supporters who are doing arms training in their militias for how to fight back if Hillary becomes president. Or the actions of a Trump supporter like Scott Michael Greene.

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Deplorable is as deplorable does.

Here is something true: The kind of people who wanted the murderer of those two cops to be a black man or a Muslim are the kind of people who are voting for Trump. The kind of people who were relieved that the killer WASN’T a black man or a Muslim are the kind of people who are revolted and terrified by the idea of a person like Trump in a position of power. If you are a person like me–drenched in privilege–you can either use that privilege to gain more power and keep others down, or you can use that privilege to help the people who don’t have your advantages… Which kind of person are you?

Vote. Vote, vote, vote, vote, VOTE!!! Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get despondent. Don’t get depressed. VOTE! If you feel yourself getting angry, let it turn into fuel that you spend on doing what you can to help. If you (like me) are so tired of sounding like a broken record, remind yourself that there are only four more days. Do not be so overcome with sadness that you don’t take a stand against this awful, awful man. And then, whatever happens after November 8th, there is going to be so much work to do either way. All over the world, there is a rise in authoritarianism. In Russia, with the Brexit vote, in Turkey with them jailing thousands of teachers, professors, and journalists… If America is worth a shit, it must stand against it. Trump’s overt channeling of anger against journalists is SO DANGEROUS. It is not an exaggeration to say that if we allow a leader like Trump, something like this blog might soon get me thrown in jail. VOTE! Take your friends to vote! Don’t give up!!!

Also, just in case: Twitter, Facebook, or Support Me.

Posted in 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hillary Clinton and the Bitchy PTA Mom

I was thinking tonight about how insufferably bitchy a lot of PTA Moms can be… with their annoyingly pushy Type A personalities, and their in-your-face way of saying what’s on their minds, and their incessant “expectations of excellence.” Ugh, right? They’re always working hard enough that it makes you feel a little bit guilty for you NOT working that hard. And they always seem to be in a little bit of a hurry, and a little bit pissed off… Probably mostly because other people aren’t working as hard as them. I know this sort of mom very well… I’m married to one of them.

But I’ve known her type for a long time. I was a kid to whom most things came fairly easy. I never had to try very hard to get by. And somewhere along the way, “not trying very hard” became part of who I am. All I had to do was just sit and listen in class, and–without taking a note, without ever taking a book home–I could manage to pull off a straight B+ average. But every once in a while, there would be something we HAD to study for… And you know who I DIDN’T ask to borrow their notes? Guys. Mostly because the majority of them didn’t take notes either, and the ones who did took notes that looked like a toddler ate a bunch of pencil lead and threw up on a paper. But there were MANY girls who took notes. Girls did their homework. THEY were the ones you wanted in your group when you did a group project… God only knows what kind of a shit show of a project would have gotten turned in if there was a group filled with a bunch of little jack asses like me.

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When it came time for needing notes, there were some girls who we knew not to ask. They always seemed to get a little “bitchy” about handing over their hard word to a slacker like me. But I could always find at least one. I’d be charming. Or funny. I’d spread it around, so it didn’t seem like I was taking advantage… You know what? The more I think about it, maybe things DIDN’T come that easily to me. Maybe I wasn’t as naturally smart as I thought I was…  Maybe I’ve just been riding the wave of my privilege so long that it started to feel like natural ability… Maybe I just had some really hard-working females around me who helped me out.

Or a mom who worked as hard as hell to make sure that I had everything I needed… While my Dad didn’t pay his child support, and slowly killed himself with drugs and alcohol. Fuck.

But yeah… My wife is one of those Bitchy PTA Moms. Right now, she is sitting in her office (our converted dining room, whose floor is covered with every manner of God-knows-what that she uses to make sure our kids’ lives are filled with every kind of excellence they wouldn’t receive if I was their only parent), and do you know what she is doing? She is putting hours and hours of work into working on the program for the play that our oldest daughter is going to be in. She is doing this while she has other work piling up from her photography business. Earlier today, she drove some girls on the middle school soccer team to their game after school. This weekend, she spent time making amazingly creative Halloween costumes for our kids–something she does every freaking year. Later this week, she will go to our youngest’s school, and she will spend her time packing food for hungry kids to take home for the backpack program that SHE STARTED… Because kids who are hungry don’t learn very well. Sometimes she has help, and sometimes she doesn’t. But guess what… That shit ALWAYS gets done.

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This is the kind of shit she does. Excellence. And she does it all by shopping at thrift stores…

Sometimes she can be a little abrasive. Sometimes there are some fireworks between her and the other Type A PTA Moms who specialize in getting shit done. All the other bitches. Because you know what those bitches do? They get shit done. They put together fundraisers that allow your kids to have nice things that the school system doesn’t pay for because we don’t want our taxes to go up $5 a year. So when someone inevitably complains about something not being right in this year’s program for the play, she might seem a little “bitchy” when she explains how the deadline for having it done was a month before the actual play, and things are bound to change between tonight and the performance. And she might seem a little “bitchy” when she gets in your face after you complain about how all the kids in our county get free lunches, but YOU probably aren’t working on making sure poor kids get the nourishment they need. And I might feel like complaining about buying organic-freaking-apples for the sack lunches we send our kids to school with instead of those garbage meals they feed them at school… But you know what? I think I’ll let it slide.

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Serious question… Who run this mother?

And there are a lot of people out there who say things like “Hillary Clinton just rubs me the wrong way.” Yeah. She rubs you the wrong way like that girl in high school who you KNEW not to ask for her notes. She rubs you the wrong way like the girl in the group project who called you out for not doing your fair share of the work. She rubs you the wrong way like the girl in college who didn’t laugh at your joke, because she didn’t think it was very funny. She rubs you the wrong way like that Nasty Woman at the office who is trying a little too hard to impress the boss with her hard work. She rubs you the wrong way like a “bitchy” PTA Mom who seems a little too uptight about everything being perfect… Or who doesn’t have time for your nonsense, because there is shit that has to get done. And it all gets done while enduring our male fragility. So instead of criticizing her “likability,” I’d prefer that you’d just say “Thank you” for that new computer in your kid’s classroom. You ass.

I leave you with perfection from Louis C.K. Please watch it. And you should probably also read this masterpiece. We need a Mom in the White House… Not a child.

I’m. With. Her.

Post Script: I promise I’m sick of this election too… It’s is genuinely hurting me. It is hurting my hope. It is hurting my faith in humanity. I see despicable actions, and I immediately assume the person doing them is a Trump supporter… Sometimes unfairly, sometimes not. The other day, a guy drew an ejaculating penis on a credit card slip and gave it to a young woman I work with at the restaurant (along with his number)… I hate that I was immediately certain that the sort of person who would do something brazenly offensive like this was the sort of person who would vote for Trump. I hate that if I see white supremacists or confederate flag flyers or people who hate Muslims or immigrants or queers, I automatically know who they are voting for. I see pictures of women wearing “Adorable Deplorable” T shirts, and I feel like giving up. I’m feeling depressed. I’ve maybe got one more blog post in me before the election. This man doesn’t need to just lose… He needs to lose BADLY. Please, PLEASE VOTE. Like Louis said, “If you vote for Hillary you’re a grown up, if you vote for Trump you’re a sucker, and if you don’t vote for anybody you’re an asshole.” I understand that there are reasons to not vote for Hillary… But there are NO good reasons to vote for Trump. 

Posted in 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

An Innocent Man Has Been In Prison For 24 Years… You Can Help Him

Imagine, for a moment, being falsely accused of a crime. A BIG crime… Murder. Imagine being 18 years old, and being arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. Imagine the prosecutor offering you a plea deal to possibly get you out of prison in 25 years or so if you just admit to killing a man you didn’t kill, but telling you that if you plead Not Guilty, you’ll go to prison for the rest of your life. Imagine being a poor, black kid who can’t afford a good lawyer… so you get assigned a public defender who is working on his first murder case. Imagine thinking that there’s no way you could be found guilty for something you didn’t do… And then, as the trial goes one, being not so sure. And then imagine hearing that word… “Guilty.” Followed by a word which–until that moment–had always been a word you had loved… “Life.”

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This is Cyrus Wilson and his family.

For a man named CYRUS WILSON, this situation was not at all imaginary. It happened… And it is STILL happening, as 24 years later, he is still sitting in a prison cell for a crime he didn’t commit. Here is the timeline of the case:

July 20, 1992–Cyrus Wilson is robbed at gunpoint by Christopher “Crip” Luckett. His car is stolen and stripped of its rims, tires, and stereo. Cyrus tells a police officer about the robbery, but is told that since he is a minor, he can’t press charges. His mother doesn’t press charges either. After the car was found a few days later, it was towed to his aunt’s house in North Nashville… Inoperable. It never got fixed.

September 15, 1992–The body of Christopher Luckett is found near the Edgehill housing projects in South Nashville under a chainlink fence, shot in the face with a shotgun. Police question juveniles in the area, and Rodriguez Lee (who was 16 at the time) gives them conflicting testimonies. He says that he saw Cryus and his best friend Benji pull up in Cyrus’ car, pull a shotgun out of his trunk, and chase down and kill “Crip” Luckett… Despite the fact that Cyrus’ car was unable to be driven… And despite the fact that Benji was in a Juvenile Detention Center on the night of the murder. Even though the detectives realized Rodriguez Lee’s story couldn’t possibly have been true, they continued focusing their investigation on Cyrus because of what happened with Luckett stealing his car.

When they interviewed Lee later, this time he said he was with Cyrus and Rashime Williams (Cyrus’ 17 year old cousin), and they chased Luckett down together, and that Cyrus was the one who killed him. Rashime is pressured into testifying against his cousin under fear of going to prison himself. You can read many more details RIGHT HERE.

September 18, 1992–Five days after his 18th birthday, Cyrus Wilson is arrested for criminal homicide. He waives his right to have an attorney present during questioning, because he felt like he didn’t need one if he’s innocent. There is no forensic or scientific evidence against Cyrus, but they build a case based on the testimony of Rodriguez Lee, Rashime Williams, and a person named Marquis Harris, who testified that he witnessed the murder from a window at his house (even though it was later proven he could not have seen the crime scene from his window). Cyrus Wilson spends a year and a half in jail waiting for the trial to begin…

January 31, 1994–Cyrus Wilson’s trial begins. He is assigned a public defender, who is defending his first murder case. At the trial, Rodriguez Lee testifies that he never saw Cyrus on the night of the murder… They clear the courtroom, and the prosecuting attorney tells him that he is close to perjuring himself. When the jury returns, Lee returns to the agreed-upon story of seeing Cyrus shoot Luckett with a shotgun he was given by Lee.

February 1, 1994–Cyrus Wilson is sentenced to life in prison. He is still there today. He has always maintained his innocence…

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Imagine this was your brother… Your father… Your friend.

And even though the trial ended, the quest for justice has not. In 2008, Wilson’s family got their hands on a signed note written by the prosecuting attorney that admitted to the fact that the witnesses were unreliable. It said, “Good case but for most of Ws (shorthand for witnesses) are juveniles who have already lied repeatedly.” The family tried to use the note to get Cyrus a new trial, but in 2012 the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the note wasn’t admissible as evidence, and wasn’t enough to grant him a new trial. After that ruling, both Rodriguez Lee AND Rashime Williams have signed sworn affidavits saying that they lied in their testimony about Cyrus Wilson. You can see copies of their affidavits HERE. In addition, Marquis Harris wrote a letter to the family apologizing for his role in Cyrus Wilson’s wrongful conviction. To top it all off, a forensic scientist has testified and found that the shotgun shells found at the scene of the murder DO NOT match the ballistics of the shotgun to which Cyrus Wilson had access… Information that was not made available to the jury at the time of the trial. <–And that right there is a sentence that I want to end with about 100 exclamation points. You can see the forensic report RIGHT HERE.

So let me summarize:

  1. Cyrus Wilson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison–with NO physical evidence connecting him to the murder other than the testimony of juveniles who had lied many times before, and whom the prosecuting attorney admitted were unreliable witnesses.
  2. Both of the main witnesses have signed sworn affidavits saying that they lied about their testimonies in the case, and that they were PRESSURED into testifying against Cyrus Wilson for fear of being blamed for the murders themselves.
  3. Ballistics tests on the shotgun shells found at the murder scene show conclusively that the shells were NOT fired from the shotgun to which Cyrus Wilson had access.
  4. Cyrus Wilson has been incarcerated for over 24 years of his life, convicted of a crime he did not commit.

If your reaction is anything like mine, you’re probably thinking, “There is no way… That can’t POSSIBLY be true!” That’s what I thought too, because we want to believe we are living in a just society. But our society is only as Just as we DEMAND that it be. If people want to argue that these facts don’t necessitate setting him free, fine… Argue that. But at least–AT THE VERY LEAST–these facts necessitate him getting a new trial.

So what can we do?

Please listen… If you’re anything like me, this election has left you with a renewed sense of how nearly impossible it is to change things. I have dreams of changing the world, but in reality I can’t even change the mind of some dip stick on Facebook who thinks that Snopes is part of a vast, liberal conspiracy. We can try to encourage people to vote for honest, competent people of integrity… But in the end, my vote counts the same as a vote of the lady who thinks that man-made global climate change is a lie invented by Obama and his Muslim friends to take our attention away from how vaccines cause autism. There are problems that are too big for any one of us to solve… Probably too big even for a whole lot of us working together to solve in one lifetime. We can work against systemic racism. We can struggle against sexism. We can speak up for equal rights. We can fight against the injustice of our criminal “justice” system. We can speak out against a broken and archaic religious theology that paints God as a monster who is going to have the vast majority of the human race tortured for all eternity. We can stand up for the rights of the poor, and aspire to end the drastic economic inequality in the world. But none of these problems are going away… At least not any time soon. 

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Cyrus and his daughter. You can help get an innocent man out of prison.

But here is one thing we CAN change: We can make a hell of a lot of noise about a man spending nearly a quarter of a century in prison for a crime he DIDN’T commit. I had never heard anything about this case before… until last week a friend mentioned it while talking with our Church about racism. And I’m betting most of you haven’t heard about it either. I called the office of Glenn Funk, the Davidson County District Attorney, to ask what they are doing about this clear injustice. A nice enough guy named Ken Whitehouse (who handles media relations) told me that they are reviewing a number of cases. I asked if there was any idea how long that process might take, and he said he didn’t know. I asked if public pressure had any effect on that process, and he assured me that they carefully review all the cases and that they don’t want an innocent man behind bars. I want to assume that is true, but if Cyrus Wilson has been wrongly imprisoned for his entire adult life, there is probably going to be a significant financial settlement involved in trying to make that right… And there are probably some pretty powerful people who don’t want that to happen. But I believe that if we make enough noise about this, it will be impossible for them to ignore any longer.

It is easy right now to let myself feel cynical and hopeless. But there is a man sitting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He has a family. He has been there for 8800 days, and every extra day he spends in prison is one day WAY too many. So please–PLEASE help me spread the word. Share this post. If you are on Twitter, you can tag Glenn Funk () and demand that he reopen the case. Give the Davidson County D.A.‘s  office a telephone call. Their number is (615) 862-5500. Call them up and ask them how many days are too many for an innocent man to be sitting in a jail cell. People started a Change.org petition a couple years ago, but only 712 people signed it… I KNOW there are more than 712 people out there who care about an innocent man rotting away in Riverbend Prison for doing nothing more than being poor and black. Tell people about Cyrus Wilson’s story. Let it make you angry… and let that anger spur you into action. Share this. Like “FreeCyrusWilson” on Facebook. Make some noise. Especially if you live in Middle Tennessee, but even if you live in another state… We might not be able to change the world, but we can change the world for one person.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trump Looked At A Little Girl And Said, “I’m Going To Be Dating Her In Ten Years.” Here’s The Video.

Okay. Listen… This is just getting too ridiculous. They just released video of Donald Trump speaking to a little girl on an escalator. He says to the little girl, “Are you going to be going up the escalator?” She answers, “Yeah.” And he says, I’m going to be dating her in ten years. Can you believe it?” Here is the video…

Now… I’m not going to tell you about how I have daughters myself… I’m not going to ask you to imagine him saying something like this to one of YOUR daughters… Or your sister… Or your whoever… You don’t need to be related to a young girl to understand that this sort of thing is inexcusable. It is gross on every level… Whether you know little girls, or not. Just listen to her voice… Listen to the sound of her saying “Yeah” to a 46 year old man, and then listen his response, and ask yourself: “What kind of man is this?” What kind of man says something like this to a little girl? In what universe is this funny?

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Little did young Kevin realize, the “Wet Bandits” were far from the most dangerous characters he would meet in his time spent Home Alone… Here we see Donald pointing to a really hot eleven-year-old he saw in the lobby.

Trump supporters: Seriously… It’s time to abandon ship. And here’s why: I guarantee you this is not as bad as it’s going to get. This is not the worst piece of audio that they are going to release… Not by a long shot. It’s going to keep coming, and you need to pull the rip cord earlier rather than later. I don’t care whether you call yourself a Christian or not… Abandon ship! It doesn’t take being a religious person to realize that this stuff is completely beyond the pale. It’s only going to get worse from here on out. Don’t be like Jerry Falwell, Jr. (pulling the BS “We’re all sinners” defense), trying to defend the indefensible, and ruining any chance of an honorable legacy. Be like the students and staff of Liberty University, who wrote this amazing letter:

“In the months since Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed him, Donald Trump has been inexorably associated with Liberty University. We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him.

A majority of Liberty students, faculty, and staff feel as we do. Donald Trump received a pitiful 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia’s primary election, a colossal rejection of his campaign. Nevertheless, President Falwell eagerly uses his national platform to advocate for Donald Trump. While he occasionally clarifies that supporting Trump is not the official position of Liberty University, he knows it is his title of president of the largest Christian university in the world that gives him political credentials.

Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.

A recently uncovered tape revealed his comments bragging about sexually assaulting women. Any faculty or staff member at Liberty would be terminated for such comments, and yet when Donald Trump makes them, President Falwell rushes eagerly to his defense – taking the name “Liberty University” with him. “We’re all sinners,” Falwell told the media, as if sexual assault is a shoulder-shrugging issue rather than an atrocity which plagues college campuses across America, including our own.

It is not enough to criticize these kinds of comments. We must make clear to the world that while everyone is a sinner and everyone can be forgiven, a man who constantly and proudly speaks evil does not deserve our support for the nation’s highest office.

Jesus tells a story in the Bible about a man who tries to remove a speck of dust from his brother’s eye, while he has a log stuck in his own. “You hypocrite,” Jesus says, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

We Liberty students are often told to support Donald Trump because the other leading candidate is a bad option. Perhaps this is true. But the only candidate who is directly associated with Liberty University is Donald Trump.

Because our president has led the world to believe that Liberty University supports Donald Trump, we students must take it upon ourselves to make clear that Donald Trump is absolutely opposed to what we believe, and does not have our support.

We are not proclaiming our opposition to Donald Trump out of bitterness, but out of a desire to regain the integrity of our school. While our president Jerry Falwell Jr. tours the country championing the log in his eye, we want the world to know how many students oppose him. We don’t want to champion Donald Trump; we want only to be champions for Christ.”

It’s bizarre how one inexcusable, disqualifying scandal just gets kind of forgotten as news of the next inexcusable, disqualifying scandal comes out. It’s as if we can only handle one giant shit-show at a time… And suddenly, the “Grab her by the pussy” thing seems like it was a really long time ago. But it totally wasn’t… It was less than a week ago. And here we are, watching a video, and listening to the republican candidate for president make a comment sexualizing a little girl. Remember when you thought it was a really big deal that the pastor of Barack Obama’s church had said some controversial things in the past? Think back on that. Think about if a video like this one would have come out with Obama saying something like this. Imagine your reaction… And as you’re thinking about that,  also try to remember this very important bit of wisdom:

And yes, I realize that these particular events didn’t happen yesterday. Ten years is a long time. When Trump bragged to Billy Bush about being able to force himself on women and commit sexual assault because of his fame, he was only the spritely age of 59. And he was just a pup when he sexualized a little girl on an escalator–He was only 46! Barely old enough to know better. Some people believe that he has changed since then… Me? I’m not so sure. Common sense just tells me that the sort of human being who would say these sorts of things (not to mention the growing charges of sexual assault, as well as the child rape case against him) is not very likely to change… Especially at this late age. The guy who bragged about his daughter’s figure and said, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her” might just be showing his true colors. This one sentence should have been more than enough to keep this man as far away from the White House as possible. Just a reminder what that looked like…

Maybe this general grossness is why, when Donald went in for a kiss after the second debate, Tiffany treated him like a creeper at a bar…

But again, these videos are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg of Trump’s history of perversion. Wait until they start playing clips of his conversations with Howard Stern. The question is not whether or not Trump has any decency… We know the answer to that. The question is whether or not WE have any decency. Besides, people who do things like this NEVER CHANGE. 100% OF PERVERTS GO BACK TO THEIR WAYS. SADLY, THERE IS NO CURE. How I can I be so sure about this, you ask? Well, I guess I must have read it somewhere…

ABANDON. SHIP.

Do you love this blog? Is it something you value? You can support it by becoming a PATRON. You can leave a tip on PAYPAL (which, if you want to, you can designate to be used to “boost” a particular post on Facebook so more people see it and read it). You can share it with the people in your social media circles. Or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’m dead serious, though… We are better than Donald Trump.

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

This. Explains. Everything.

I don’t know what I can write to get you to feel how passionately I believe what I’m about to tell you. If this is the first time you are reading something I’ve written, you have no real reason to believe me… But if you are reading something of mine for the second, third, tenth, hundredth time, I want to ask you a favor. Here it is: If I have ever written anything in the past that you have ever valued, trust me when I say this… You have GOT to watch the documentary titled “13TH.” It is on Netflix right now (you can stream it), and it is the most valuable, important documentary I have ever encountered with regards to understanding racism in America. Not just an “I hate black people” sort of racism, but the Racism that is at the heart of the SYSTEMS in this country. It deals with slavery, prison, government, and all the important history of how those things have shaped our world and our way of seeing things.

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I am not going to put up a bunch of statistics… Everything is in the film. I’m not going to try to retell what the makers of this documentary have said… It is perfect and powerful exactly as it is. I am simply begging you–BEGGING YOU–To watch this documentary. It is so good. So strong. So important to understanding this mess we find ourselves in. Some of you know I’m a Christian (please don’t hold that against me), but even as a Christian, if I had to choose one thing that every person in this country needed to do: Either 1) Read the Bible, or 2) Watch the documentary “13TH,” the choice would be easy. I would have us watch this documentary. I am completely and utterly serious.

And then, if you could, I need you to tell people about it. In some way, let the people in your life know how important you think this movie is. Use your voice to spread the word. The world needs to be educated about this. Every single person–every ethnicity and color–needs to see this film. Share this post, share a review, share how it made you feel… SHARE IT. And then, after you share it, look for a way to help. Show up. Give money to one of the groups that is working to educate people and fight against this cancer on our society. But please, Please, PLEASE!!!! Go to Netflix, search “13TH,” and watch it. If you don’t think it’s 100% WORTH EVERY MINUTE OF YOUR TIME, you can feel free to unfollow me and never pay attention to another word I say. I am staking my entire reputation on the worthwhileness of this film. PLEASE! Alright… You’ve wasted enough time reading this. Go watch it right now…

Posted in 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Top 10 Excuses For Donald Trump’s “Locker Room Talk”

Since the release of the video/audio of Donald talking with Billy Bush and bragging about sexually assaulting women, I have had an enjoyable time watching his supporters squirm while trying to excuse his inexcusable actions… All while defending their decision to still give him their votes. I have compiled some of the most popular excuses I’ve come across:

10) “She was asking for it.” Seriously though, did you see that dress? Besides, Melania said it was alright…

9) “At least he tells it like it is.” Unlike Hillary Clinton, that lying whore… It’s way better to be OPEN about being an awful person than it is to be a person who FAKES caring about kids as she tirelessly spends 40 years of her life falsely working in public service.

8) “Bill Clinton said a lot worse than that.” I know this one works, because my kids do it all the time. Me: “Son, why did you call your sister an idiot?” Son: “Bill Clinton called her a lot worse than that!” Works every time…

7) “That was a long time ago.” He was young and immature. What’s that? He was married to his third wife at the time, and already a 59 year old grandfather? Yeah, but eMails, and a private server, and [trails off, muttering something about a Blackberry]…

6) “If God didn’t want us grabbing women by the pussy, why did he shaped them to be so grabbable?” Blame God, not Donald. Actually, little known fact: The handle to the bathroom door in his master bedroom is solid gold woman’s vagina… I’m kidding, I’m kidding… It’s actually gold plated.

5) “We’re not electing a Pastor-In-Chief.” It seems this policy has changed since folks were making a case against voting for Barack Obama… Plus, ABORTION!

4) “Quit being so Politically Correct.” Political correctness is literally killing this country!

3) “Oh right… Like YOU never bragged to Billy Bush about being able to grab a woman by her pussy.” Come on, we’ve all been there…

2) “BENGHAZI!!!!” Someday in the future, when misled extremists on the “Christian Right” detonate their suicide vests, they will yell this word, unaware that Secretary Clinton was investigated almost 10 times (at great expense) over what happened in Benghazi, and yet the republican commissions who investigated found no wrongdoing whatsoever for her.

1) “That was before he was saved.” Also, didn’t Jesus say a little something about “the person who is without sin being one to cast the first stone?” Checkmate, bitches…

So there they are: The Top 10 Excuses for Donald’s latest embarrassment (by the way, I’ve decided to refer to him simply as “Donald.” He is nothing more than a fake last name, so “Donald” it is). Don’t worry, I’m sure people will have another chance to use these excuses over the next month or so… Whenever he says yet another thing that embarrasses our country around the world, and confuses the citizens of other countries as to why this buffoon even has a POSSIBILITY of winning the presidency. Listen, I don’t want to spend too much time defending Donald’s words. In the interest of equal time, here are Robert De Niro’s thoughts on the guy. **Spoiler Alert: He’s not a big fan.

https://video.vice.com/en_us/embed/57f835027a5f594018877374

I told myself I was only going to write a quick list and then go to bed, but I feel like I really need to say this last part:

The truly gross thing is not that he said the things he said… The REALLY gross part is that–for many of you–THIS is what it took for you to speak up and finally say this guy is a sleaze ball who does not deserve to be president. He’s been saying this shit all along… He’s just been saying it about people you don’t know. You didn’t feel compelled to speak up when he characterized Mexicans as rapists and criminals, and blamed them for our country’s economic woes? You didn’t feel compelled to speak up when he offered to pay the legal fees for people who beat up BlackLivesMatter protesters, or refused people entry to his rallies simply because they were black? You didn’t feel compelled to speak up when he suggesting killing the families of terrorists and suggesting keeping all Muslims out of the country?

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It was just “Locker Room Talk,” and he’s “sorry if you were offended.” Not sorry that he said it, mind you… Sorry if YOU were offended.

And now some people are all “I’ve got a mother,” “I’ve got a sister,” etc… Do you not know any Hispanics? Do you not know any black folks whose faces you can imagine his words affecting? Do you not have Muslim friends who you could imagine being kept out of America because of their religion? But NOW you’re mad?!? It shouldn’t take these “That could be my daughter/sister/mother” revelations in order for people to care enough to speak up. It wasn’t him talking about dating his daughter, it wasn’t him alluding to the size of his penis during a presidential debate, it wasn’t him accusing Obama of not being a “real citizen,” or any of the thousands of other horrible things he’s said. The fact that it took an audio recording of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, going after a married woman, and being able to grab a woman by her pussy if he wanted… If this was the level of grossness you had to see coming from Donald–the “straw that broke the camel’s back” of your conscience, if you will–then you’ve got yourself one truly messed up camel. 

But I suppose better late than never…

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“What can I say? I am who I am…”

If you love this blog and want to support it, you can. HERE and HERE. Otherwise, share it… Or I’ll grab you in the you-know-where. That’s right… Right in the conscience camel.

Posted in 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments