Archives for posts with tag: Classism

Arrested for Justice!

They explained what to do and what not to do. Everything seemed so “organized.” It all made sense. I thought I understood how it was supposed to go. But my heart still pounded and my throat had a lump. They warned us about prior convictions. My mind kept wondering if I had any convictions…or even had been arrested. I couldn’t remember whether or not I had. My deep-seated distrust in the criminal justice system as a black, gay, HIV-positive man was beginning to show. All the reassurances in the world could not soothe the butterflies fluttering in my stomach.

Prior to today my record was squeaky clean, besides the traffic tickets that keep being hailed as the example of “no big deal.” But reminded me of all the times I thought I might die from a traffic stop. And all the times I thought I might be criminalized because of my sexuality. And all the times my HIV status has been used to dehumanized my black body. Yet, I chose to be arrested.

I chose to be arrested alongside the Missouri state delegate. He is a white, straight, food service worker earning $9 per hour. He is forced to chose between child support payments and healthcare. Because 50% of his pay goes to child support. He is forced to live without healthcare. Our lives could not have been further apart, but we chose to be arrested together today.

It wasn’t that bad. We chanted. We sang. We were warned. We surrendered. What I had feared all my life and sworn to avoid, was not that bad. And maybe that’s the problem. Just maybe the fear of being arrested keeps us from doing the work of justice. Perhaps the system is set up to keep the people just complacent enough to do nothing.

As I sat there on the grassy Capital lawn, behind police tape and steel barricades with like-minded strangers for justice, I thought about those who have not organized, those who did not know what to do. As I looked down at my plastic handcuffs, relieved that they were not real, even though they were….it was difficult not to act out. The meekness of the police was provocative. Their soft spokenness, their generosity of spirit up juxtaposed to the violence of state sanctioned poverty made it difficult to comply. The violence suffered by the least of these, created a deep-seated rage, prompting me to cry out.

What do we want? Justice!

When do we want it? Now!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we don’t get it? Shut it down!

If we – don’t – get – it?

Shut it down!

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IMG_4626It’s June. June! It’s only June. Everyday since November 8 the news has been nonstop. From #pussygate to characters streaming in and out of Gotham Tower to #fakenews about crowds to failed attempts to ban Muslims to Spicers press briefing antics to crazy nonstop tweets to #fakenews about #Obamagate to failed Obamacare appeals to #Russiagate and on and on and on. It just hasn’t quit. It’s June. June! It’s only June.

It hasn’t even been six months, but already there is plenty of proof that we have been Trump-ed by traitors. A traitor is a person who betrays a friend, country, or principle. Traitors have infiltrated our government under the guise of piety and American Pie in order to rob us of our dignity for the sake of personal gain.

But the traitor is not Trump. Trump is who we have always known him to be, a self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist who will do whatever it takes to advance his own agenda. The real traitors are all 54 senators and 247 house leaders who are betraying American values by defending Trump’s self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist antics. The traitors are the white evangelical church leaders who are betraying American values by worshipping a God who is ambivalent to exhorbitant wealth, women’s rights, immigrants, refugees, extreme poverty, and racism. The traitors are the rust belt middle class pretending to be pitiful and poor to mask their fear of blacks, immigrants, refugees, and industrial progress.

These deep and subtle betrayals are what makes all this Trumpian chaos so horrific and unimaginable. Prior to November 8, I assumed I had friends who held differing views and values. Prior to November 8, I assumed I lived in a country with a constitution that states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Prior to November 8, I assumed that my interests were being served by a democratic government that would protect me from the wiles of authoritarianism, nationalism, unrestricted capitalism.

But since the election of Donald J. Trump, I can no longer be led by such ill-advised assumptions.  Since November 8 it has become clear that those who have voted for this self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist president are self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racists themselves. While Donald J. Trump is indeed problematic, the real traitors are these treasonous wolves in sheep clothing who pretend to be pious and patriotic in order to carry out their own self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist agendas against the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, and the American who still believes in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all people everywhere. Such values no longer Trump all.

donald“If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a DUCK!”

It’s been almost two weeks and I just can’t seem to shake it. I mean, really? Really? Perhaps I’m caught in a political death spiral. I just can’t believe this circus of a reality show that we are watching. With the unsurprising selections of Bannon, Flynn, and Sessions what we feared about a Trump administration has become frighteningly clear. Racism will be as central during the presidency as it was during the campaign! There is no further need to “wait and see.” It’s as clear as the nose on my face.  I just can’t seem to grasp how we as a culture are so blatantly laying aside principles for pragmatism, as if the two are somehow separable. How can we accept racist, sexist, and bigoted social ethics as the means to economic growth. Yes, I know, I know. The transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow, and the industrial revolution were all built on the backs of white supremacy. But today, with eyes wide shut, we are witnessing the revival of targeted dehumanization as the means to economic growth. Blacks, Mexicans, Islam, Jewishness, women, China are all open game! It’s as if every group except European Christian male whiteness is fair game. I mean, really. I just can’t avert my eyes. Even as one well-schooled in the spiritual dynamics of race, class, gender, and sexuality, I still find this all quite astonishing. After years of research and study, dialogue and debate, dissent and reconciliation it’s still unbelievable to witness the blatant rabidness of racist rhetoric that is about to enter the walls of the White House. It’s so obvious that it’s proving difficult to diagnose, but we just need to call it what it is! I don’t care how prosperous our economy becomes or if the face of Isis is wiped from the planet. Any success accomplished on the backs of the most marginalized is destined for failure. Sure, short-term progress is possible or even probable. But at what cost? As Trumpism seems to be tramppling all over the respectable politics of human dignity and decency, it is becoming more and more clear that if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a Trump!