A dog that chases its tail will be dizzy …

People, we have a situation. It is time for the representatives we sent to Congress to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his actions. It is time to impeach.

Speaker Pelosi and her supporters seem to be waiting for the majority of America to get on board. When Pelosi speaks, she says that she doesn’t even have the support of the House Democrats. I wonder if, whether out of loyalty or respect, many House Democrats are not speaking out about their desire to impeach because she asked them to be in solidarity with her opinion. Why don’t we put everyone on the record in a public way?  What is the risk in that?

What is the risk in moving this process forward? Speaker Pelosi feels that there will be some sort of backlash if the president is impeached but not eventually removed from office. I took a look at the most recent polls asking about impeachment. Fewer than half of the people polled think Trump should not be impeached. This means that over half either really would like to see this happen (like me) or don’t really care. I do not believe that Trump supporters will be swayed by much and I don’t imagine more people will become Trump supporters after impeachment. In fact, perhaps having the whole story presented without spin might be what we need to chip away at the edges of Trump’s support. It is worth the risk.

Democrats keep saying that most Americans will not read the Mueller Report and don’t understand that impeachment does not automatically mean removal; and yet, there does not seem to be much of an effort to educate us so that we can understand. Shouldn’t educating Democrats about what impeachment would and would not do be a priority? If more of us understood, would more of us be on board?

I would not have thought it was possible, but Pres. Trump and his administration are becoming more emboldened and more brazen in their disrespect for the law. Because they have framed the results of the Mueller Report as “total exoneration” they have decided not to honor subpoenas and this weekend Pres. Trump basically welcomed foreign participation in the 2020 election. Impeachment is not just about setting a precedent for future presidents, it is about sending a message to the one we have now.

GJA

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The Walk

Racism is simply tragic.

A dispatcher told a story about an old woman who called the police every day. Each morning, at the same time, this woman would call the police to say that she saw a black man walking down the street. She was really scared, because he had something in his hand … maybe a weapon. Every day, the police would go to the scene and question an older black man. The same black man who lived in a house in the same neighborhood, who got up everyday to exercise, by walking around his own block. The “weapon” he held,  his cane. Eventually, he simply stopped walking by that woman’s house. The dispatcher dispassionately explained that the calls stopped coming in. She imagined that perhaps the man took another route on his walk.

Shame on that old woman for her inability to see things as they are. And, shame on the dispatcher and the police for participating in the harassment of this poor, black man. Sure. However, in addition to feeling so angry about the situation, this story also made me feel a deep sadness for that old woman which I can’t fully explain. I began to believe that this woman, who probably lived her whole life feeling so much fear and loathing for black people, was also overcome by a sense of unresolved longing. I would bet that what that woman really wanted to do, more than anything, was to burst out her front door and get to know that black man. She wanted connection. She wanted to be seen and loved by that black man, maybe invite him into her home. She wanted desperately to break free from the prison of racism, which kept her peering through the blinds at a world changing around her. But in our society, there is no way out, no path to love. We only have violence, separation and pain.

If the police could remove this man, maybe she could calm the storm he had elicited within her heart. So, she called the police every day to get them to stop a black man from walking in front of her house. And with persistence, it worked.

– GJA

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What Black Folks Hear, When White Liberals Say …

“We are all immigrants!”

As we become more aware of the horrors and tragedies happening to immigrant families and children at our southern border, I’m hearing more white Liberals say either, “we are all from immigrants” or “unless you are Native American, we are all immigrants”. The latter is approaching good politics; but, each statement makes invisible my experience as an African American descendant of slaves. African people, brought to the Americas under the most horrendous conditions, were systematically stripped of much of their culture, language, ties to their ancestry, autonomy and dignity. Then these people suffered for centuries literally building the structures and wealth of this nation. Since the formal abolition of slavery, many constantly evolving and creatively designed systems of oppression have been set in motion to keep African Americans in a perpetual state of second class citizenship and containment. So, it deeply troubles me when my colleagues say that “we” are all immigrants, because it erases me from the conversation about what makes us American and minimizes the experiences of my family.

The other thing that these statements do is to whitewash the histories of white Americans whose families directly benefited from slavery. I had a white friend tell me that our perspectives were different, because my people’s history includes slavery. Upon further reflection of our conversation (you know when it’s three days later, you’re in the shower and you finally find that great retort?), I wanted to run back and tell him, “no, you are wrong, both of our people’s history includes slavery!“(There!) Our “people” have a common history that includes slavery in this country. How can we talk about the American slave experience as if it only happened to the slaves? His “people” created and maintained and benefited from an evil system (or ignored it). Slavery is part of American history and our ugly past is what ties us together.

My point here is that no white Americans (no matter when their family arrived) is exempt from examining his own white privilege. And, those whose families once owned people who look like me especially should not be allowed to use an immigrant past or distant ethnic affiliation to wiggle out of accountability and atonement.

In this era where the alternative is to support an administration that routinely draws out the low hanging fruit to abuse in public, I am hesitant to be critical of white people who are at least attempting to sympathize with the plight of vulnerable migrants. However, I do find casual statements that erase the complexity of our situation here deeply offensive and problematic. In this work of social justice, our true work is not simply to police people’s words in an effort to be politically correct but to dig deeper to examine why we say what we say and do what we do. You don’t need to BE an immigrant or to be from immigrants to have compassion for immigrants. In fact, the greater our capacity for empathy towards people from all walks of life the more human we become. In spite of what Melania Trump’s special green jacket infers, we should all care about all people and especially children and babies fleeing from dire and impossible situations in their countries only to die on a cold concrete floor in the U.S.

You can say, “I relate to the experiences of immigrant families because after all people in my family came here many years ago to find a better life.” You can say, “it is troubling to me that in a country filled with the descendants of immigrants we can’t be more compassionate.” – something like that… Most importantly, you can keep the focus on the issue, learn all you can, educate other people and donate money or time to organizations supporting immigrants and refugees.

– GJA

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Why White Republican Women May Be Our Only Hope

The day after President Trump’s Inauguration, millions of women and our allies around the world poured out into the streets to protest the election of a man we thought was grossly unqualified for office, dangerous and simply, gross! We came to these conclusions based on candidate Trump’s behavior and words on the campaign trail, his past behavior and the strange friends he seemed to be making – like David Duke and Steve Bannon. Later, by the time Democrats started to ask us to be patient and wait for the results of the Mueller Report, Pres. Trump had proven himself to be the nightmare we all feared. His successes in rolling back the progress of the last 50 years was accompanied by a barrage of lies and a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease. The Mueller Report added that he may also be a criminal and a puppet of a foreign (or more than one) government. So, here we are post Mueller Report continuing to look for a way out.

The midterm elections brought a point home for me as a feminist, when I learned that in the very close races of Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, white women as a class, could have made the difference. White women in Alabama also overwhelmingly supported Roy Moore after serious accusations came out about his sexually abusive behavior towards young girls. And this should not have surprised me, I guess, because white women overwhelmingly voted for Pres. Trump.

Democrats are impotent, because we are hamstrung by principles. And principles aren’t going to save us from this monster. White Republican men have sold their souls to Pres. Trump and do not feel they they can speak out about any thing or admit that he is doing anything wrong. One day someone will explain why that is the case to me, because I don’t quite understand it. Therefore, I believe it is up to white Republican women to save our democracy. I am picking on white Republican women, because white Progressive women and women of color in general favor impeachment.

White Republican women have the same “kitchen table ” issues as the rest of us. They have an issue with the Trump Administration’s take on education, pay equity and health care. They are concerned about jobs and farms and increased prices due to tariffs. They may not like immigrants, but they might think it’s too far to separate children from their parents or put them in cages. They may be Pro-Life, but they might believe that there should be exceptions for women and girls who are victims of sexual assault and incest. They may really be Evangelical Christians who do not agree with the immoral behavior of this man who holds the office. They may not wholeheartedly believe, as do the men, that giving up civil and human rights is worth lining the courts with conservative judges.

I may be naive, but I believe that women across the political spectrum can come together on some of these different issues and work together on those parts where we agree. Political women’s organizations need to work with Republican women who aspire to hold office, because women are seriously underrepresented in the leadership of the Republican Party. We should all work to put more Republican women into office, and in the meantime, we can help white, Republican women understand their power as voters.

I get that what I am suggesting would involve serious cultural change. White Republican women would have to vote for Democrats in 2020 or at least support the handful of Republicans who stand up against Pres. Trump. Cultural change is never easy, but I think it may be our only hope to save the Republican Party and to course correct after this dark moment in our history.

–  GJA

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The Land of the False Equivalencies

The Blue Lives Matter movement really says that black people’s assertion that our lives matter is an affront to white life.

Simplicable.com defines a “false equivalence” as “an argument that two things are much the same when in fact they are not”. In the work of social justice false equivalencies can be very damaging.

The backlash to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement is perhaps one of the best examples of false equivalencies gumming up the works of progress. It should go without saying, but just in case I need to say it, black people in America are victimized regularly by white American racism. Sometimes the racism is interpersonal and blatant and sometimes more systemic or covert, but it is a real part of our daily lives. One of the most difficult things to stomach as a black person is and has been lynching – someone who is powerless being murdered by a person or group of people who do hold power. When black people are murdered by the police, or by random men “standing their ground”, it creates a fear akin to terrorism within our communities. Emmett Till was lynched. Trayvon Martin was lynched. And, Eric Garner was lynched. Lynching of the past was a community spectacle … now we have videos on social media.

When over and over and over again no one is held accountable for the deaths of black people – even in cases when there is video footage of the murder – we get the message that our lives do not matter. Not to the people who take the lives of our loved one. Not to the criminal justice system. Not to the people on the jury. And, not to well meaning white liberals who act confused when we talk about our pain.

The peaceful response to contemporary lynching is #BlackLivesMatter. We are saying, we matter, our lives matter to us. #BlackLivesMatter offers a way for white allies to say, your lives matter to us as well. We could meet and look each other in the eyes and affirm life. When white liberals see us, we seem angry. And we are angry, but we are also hurt, betrayed and very fearful. Fearful for our brothers, our sons and fathers especially.

A false equivalency is the counter protest to #BlackLivesMatter that is the Blue Lives Matter movement. Many communities, like the one I live in now, have adopted a blue version of the American flag as a symbol of support for police. The banner of Blue Lives Matter says that police lives are as threatened by black people as black lives are threatened by police – which is not true by any measure. But more importantly, the false equivalency belies the discrepancy in power between these two groups. The argument is ahistorical and fantastical and provides a premeditated defense for unrestrained use of force. It is beyond a slap in the face. It is a message that says to black people, not only do we have the right to kill you, but you also do not have the right to complain about it. Your effort to assert your very life is an affront to me and my family.

The missing piece of the puzzle of the false equivalency is power. In our communities, especially impoverished communities, the police have the power to take away your freedom or your life. Police are slow to respond to interpersonal violence within communities of color but quick to respond in a lethal way to the theft of a car, for example. Everyone who grows up poor, understands this too early. We don’t hate police because of some personal grudge, they are a militia, literally and figuratively controlling and restricting our movement and quality of life. 

A more subtle but no less misguided form of the false equivalency is the effort to build connections between police and communities of color through “special programs” designed to help the community see another side of individual police officers. These efforts are nice, but they tend to focus on a false narrative that police have just gotten a “bad rep” and that children should trust the police. These kinds of programs spread the idea that if you just respond the right way when pulled over, the police officer can refrain from killing you. People in the community are being asked to deescalate volatile situations and change their behavior in order to save their own lives. That is insane! Police are perfectly capable of doing their jobs without perpetrators behaving kindly. We are choosing to blame the victims of police brutality instead of demanding that they, as professionals, be held accountable. Also, it perpetuates an idea that “bad cops” are the ones who harm people. The truth is that the problem is deeply embedded in the racism of our culture. There is too much emphasis placed on the communities of color to rebuild bridges – when the police departments were the ones who burned them down.

Power can be wielded to abuse, or it can lead to increased responsibility to aid and protect those who are less powerful. The changes I would like to see would start with community policing. Put police officers on the ground. If you are too scared to walk around the neighborhoods you police, then being a police officer may not be the right profession for you. Some cities will not allow teachers to work where they do not live. Can we do that for police?  There needs to be oversight into police departments  from the government, whenever someone who was unarmed is murdered. And, police officers who act differently from how they have been trained need to be fired and never allowed to possess a firearm again. I believe that if we cannot ever hold police officers accountable in our courts of law, maybe police should have their own courts – like the military has – and maybe other police officers can shut down the corruption and abuse. In the meantime, so called “good cops” need to be more vocal about the abuse they see going on. Mostly something rather than nothing needs to happen.

Unfortunately for the “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” segment of the American populous, #BlackLivesMatter is not going away. A spirit of resistance was born in the bowels of slave ships and it will never die!

– GJA

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Photo Credit –  King Walker stands in front of police officers and their supporters at the conclusion of a “Blue Lives Matter” rally in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 30, 2015. (Reuters / Jim Bourg) The Nation

Not Just Window Dressing

On Wednesday, May 22nd, Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood challenged Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan in an exchange that went like this,

Rep. Lauren Underwood: “At this point, with five kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like—and the evidence is really clear—that this is intentional. It’s intentional. It’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it’s cruel and inhumane. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.”

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan: “That’s an appalling accusation, and our men and women fight hard to protect people in our custody every single day.” (Democracy Now!)

In addition to Sec’y McAleenan’s outrage, Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee then voted to admonish Rep. Underwood, had her remarks stricken from the record and barred her from speaking for the rest of the session. That’s okay. Rep. Underwood said what she came to say, and in the brave new world of social media, we all had an opportunity to hear it. We can set aside for now, that no one seems to be appalled that five (and by now we’ve learned that it is six) children have died in our custody. We are only appalled that we believe someone should be held accountable. I have witnessed a host of appalling behavior from Republicans in committees – including crying, shouting, bringing in special posters and women of color staffers as props – however, it is only black women Rep. Underwood and Rep. Pressley who are having their words erased and their voices silenced. [Oh, and props to Senator Warren who had her “nevertheless she persisted” moment in the Senate. Different context I know, but just saying.]

What bothers me more so than the behavior of the Republicans is the silence of the Democrats. When the blue wave hit DC, there was so much excitement about having all of these great women of color in the Congress. And then, shortly after the advantageous photo ops ended, I believe many of the older Democrats imagined these women would quietly fade into the background and at the very least conform to the way things work. Unfortunately, women of color, who have ascended to political power have faced much scarier adversaries than anything that you’ve got going on in DC – including a tweet from Donald Trump. In other words, ‘they ain’t never scared’. Secondly, the broad and diverse constituencies who elected them want them to make change. Why would you try to change the change-agents into the status-quo, when progress is where we are headed?

As strong as women of color are, I still believe they should be supported by their colleagues … and they are not being supported. I am watching AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar being hung out to dry by visible leaders of the Democratic Party. There’s all this pearl clutching and tut-tuting on the part of old-heads in the party and different versions of “oh, they are new, they’ll learn” – an idea that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will reign this new, wild, Progressive-leaning group of people in. We better all hope not. Women of color are often charged with the role of speaking truth to power, fine, but they shouldn’t have to stand alone while they fight to make things better for everyone.

If anything, I am looking for more ‘profiles in courage’ from people who have very little (if nothing) to lose by standing up for what is right!

GJA

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When is it a good time to fall in love?

“We see things as we are, not as they are.” Anais Nin

And you have a person in your life whose hand
you like to hold?
“Yes, I do.”

It must surely, then, be very happy down there
in your heart.
“Yes,” I said. “It is.” – from Mary Oliver “A Voice from I Don’t Know Where”

I am challenging myself to write every day. I have tons of topics to choose from – Donald Trump, white supremacy, racism – and I’ll get back to all that. But, today, I woke up wanting to write about something else. So, I thought I’ll try to write about love. Many years ago, Iyanla Vanzant or someone like Iyanla Vanzant said that you draw to you, who you are. How terrifying! I took to heart what she said. And upon reflection, I realize that I do fall in love when my life is in transition. And, I have drawn to me – not just for romantic love, but also for the love you find in activism and community – companion wayfarers. It may be that we just hang out in the same spaces – graduate schools, coffee places, facilitated support groups, and etc. I’m not sure. I do, however, enjoy the idea of serendipity running the show. Now that it is Spring, I find myself wanting to be pulled in that direction your heart goes in when you fall in love. I want that distraction, the awkward phone conversations, the anticipation and the like. Then, I remember Iyanla’s concept. Who am I now? Is it an okay time to draw who I am to me right now? There is a way in which who I am right now is more stable and grounded than I have ever been before. Part of it is maturity and the other is about being too tired to run from whatever I have been running from for all these years. Calm waters are the uncharted territory of my experience. (Did I mix my metaphors?) So, maybe this would be a good time to draw love to myself. We’ll see! Any way, back to the grind!

GJA

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

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President Trump as an avatar of white supremacy

As we move into a new election season, there has been an increased level of anxiety about “red meat” and the Donald Trump Base. More often now, white anti-racist activists are pointing out that racism and not candidate Trump’s economic policies are what drove people to his camp.

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on the argument of whether Pres. Trump is racist. His policies certainly are racist, but I also kind of believe that he has no organizing philosophy. He, like his Russian counterpoints, use racism to his advantage, which in some ways is worse. To the extent that I can care about racist, white Trump supporters, I am mad at the way they are being used to further an agenda that will harm them in the end. Early on, pundits tried to explain away the support for Pres. Trump by saying that his message of economic prosperity spoke to “the forgotten white, working-class” American. Now, people are more likely to admit what I believe people of color heard all along that “Make America Great Again” meant “Make America White Again”!*

I teach African American History and we read “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” this semester. I was reminded about how slave owner would occasionally allow poor whites to enter the slave quarters, terrorize enslaved people and steal their belongings. This act of solidarity helped poor whites forget (for a moment)  their lives of misery and focus instead of their common superiority over black people. Poor whites were used as overseers and slave catchers and in many other ways throughout history as a violent militia doing the grunt work for wealthy white people in exchange for a false sense of inclusion. In the last year of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to create a poor people’s campaign that would bring together black and white, poor and rural people, because the groups who needed each other the most were being pitted against each other. That kind of vision is needed so much right now.

Pres. Trump’s base is often described as a group of uneducated, white, male and working class people; however, his base is actually a lot more diverse. The largest invisible part of Pres. Trump’s base are white women (of all classes) in red states, who tend to vote against their own best interests every chance they get. Other groups include Putin and the Russians and dictators, oligarchs and other foreign entities who need a leg up or a “useful idiot” to move along their own agendas. Pres. Trump is also supported by the very wealthy 1% who benefited from his tax cuts and the religious conservatives who like what he was able to do about appointing judges. These groups hide behind the image of MAGA hat wearing white men and use them as scapegoats or pawns. None of the pro-Trump senators would ever have anyone like the people who attend Trump Rallies (or Donald Trump himself really) in their social circles. MAGA folks are rolled out and riled up to scare elected Republicans into submission. Many of the issues where the Trump Administration has fallen short – like jobs, criminal justice reform, health care, gun control, reproductive freedom, education reform, relief from opioid addiction and the like disproportionately impact the lives of working class white, uneducated men in red hats (and their wives) – but they still support Trump. And where’s the beautiful wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for?

Democrats, for the most part, believe the hype that Pres. Trump’s apparent base is a threat. After the 2016 election, many Democrats felt shamed by the realization that they had never really thought to consider “the forgotten man” of rural and small town America. My own critique of the party was that both Bernie and Hillary spent too much time harping on the Middle Class and not enough time focusing on the struggles of the poor. However, once we arrived at the presidential election the ‘choice’ was between being ignored and being destroyed – so I stopped complaining.  In an effort to overcompensate for forgetting the “forgotten man”, Democrats seem to be going too far in the other direction to “win him back”. If we can unite the country, that’s great; however, we should not ignore our own base in order to make it happen.

The Democratic strategy for 2020 has to be accountable to the people in the party while also focusing on beating Pres. Trump. In order to do that, we have to come to terms with racism in our country and how it has been used to manipulate and divide us. We also need to understand the diverse groups that make up Pres. Trump’s base – and expose the truth to people who are engaged in the political process. Finally, “we” outnumber “them”. So, the more we can energize participation, convince youth and other disenfranchised people to vote and remove barriers and voter suppression – the better chance we will have. At the end of the day, I believe Democrats will be able to do a better job of making the changes that will help all Americans – even the ones that aren’t initially on board.

* America was never white – as there were Indigenous peoples here when Europeans arrived shortly followed by boatloads of Africans. Honestly, Africans were here before we officially became a nation, so, just saying …

GJA

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Rain at the picnic …

I fear that white, liberal centrism will lead to four more years of Trump.

When I first moved to my apartment, I had a backyard BBQ/housewarming. My apartment is in Buffalo, NY where the weather can change swiftly and dramatically. When I spotted storm clouds in the distance, I announced to the group, “Once we feel the first drops, everyone grab something and go into the house.” When we felt the first few drops, my sister and I grabbed a few things, went into the house to get umbrellas and began moving things inside. No one else moved. After the rain really started to come down, most of my other guests began to help out, but one woman sat at the picnic table with rain falling in her plate of food. She said to me, “sometimes it stops raining after awhile, and so I am going to give it a moment.” Putting aside for the moment that my sister and I are African American and that my guests were all white Americans and that perhaps aversion to eating in the rain is a cultural difference, this moment has become a symbol to me about the Impeach Trump debate in the Democratic Party.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi put all her eggs in the Mueller Report basket, but the ‘smocking’ gun did not seem to be there. So, now Speaker Pelosi and her caucus have decided to slow walk the country through a number of hearings in hopes that this will lead to a more favorable opinion about impeachment. Only then will they move in that direction. To her, an impeachment would polarize the country, it would alienate the base (Trump’s base) and thereby inevitably lose the swing voters who voted for Obama and then Trump, and fall into a trap set by President Trump – who desperately wants to be impeached. All of these concerns are compelling, but if Speaker Pelosi is wrong, this is a huge risk we’re taking. First, I don’t think we can get any more polarized than we are now; and second, swing voters are looking for common sense governing and improvements in the “kitchen table” issues impacting their lives. Most importantly, if it is the role of the Congress to be the checks and balances on the president and impeachment is a tool they can use, then we should be more concerned about what happens if we do not impeach Pres. Trump.

There seems to be something scarier and more urgent about the Donald Trump presidency for people from marginalized groups than it is for the white, liberal centrists with which I spend a lot of my time. In an interview last week, the president of the National Black Farmer’s Association, John Boyd explained that farmers of all colors are being harmed by the policies of the Trump Administration, but that the white farmers still support President Trump. He thought that maybe the white farmers see themselves in Trump and that’s why they would sell out their own concerns to be conciliatory. Is it possible that even as white liberal centrists disagree with President Trump, they also, like white farmers, see themselves in him? Are they overly cautious about Pres. Trump’s feelings and the alienation of his base, because of an unconscious, uncovered racial solidarity? Is this a good enough reason to let this wild bull loose in the china shop of our democracy?

As far as I am concerned, an election will not be a good enough remedy for our present moment. A fifth immigrant child has died in our custody and we cannot account for hundreds of children separated from their parents. LGBTQ rights and women’s rights rolling back, attacks on the 1st and 14th amendments, mass deportation and the proposed detention and expulsion of documented immigrants, empty promises about jobs and health care, neglecting to act on the environmental crisis, flirtation with dictators and efforts to trigger major wars … do none of these things rise to the level of crisis? What about all of them together? Our communities cry out that racists and bigots are emboldened by rhetoric and legislation. For the white people in my life, I am afraid this is simply a talking point. I feel like I am under attack, that my life is in danger. And I am not the only one who feels this way. Oh, and I left out empty positions and incompetent people in staffing at the federal levels. Pundits keep warning of the time when there is a national emergency. I believe we are living one.

Impeachment will lay bear the full picture of the Trump presidency in a public way. Then we can make up our minds about this president and his enablers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently explained that although bringing forth articles of impeachment will not end in expulsion (because of the support for Pres. Trump in the Senate) each Senator will have to go on the record with his or her decision.

Did you stand on the right or wrong side of history?

Democrats made a choice for moderation and caution when we supported Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House. Unfortunately, it is probably too late to change course now. Our only hope is that Republicans on the ground will encourage/pressure their senators to stand up to President Trump.

Slim chance. Maybe? – GJA

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The Great Debate

When did we agree that Conservatism should define our religion?

At some point, I’m not sure exactly when it happened, Progressive and Liberal Christians relinquished control of the narrative about Christianity to Conservatives. When politicians want to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community or get extra restrictive on women’s rights or even abusive towards migrant families, they turn to Evangelical Christian leaders for an endorsement. And, the values of Conservatism are assumed to be Christian values. It is enough for a person to say, “well, because of my religious values, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman” or ” I am a Christian and so I believe in family values” (read: heteronormative, sexist, gender role norms).  And, no one pushes back or challenges the assumption that these “Christian values” are the ones shared by the rest of us. When did we have the great debate on Christianity where diverse groups of Christians got together in a room and decided that this one interpretation of the Gospel should stand alone?  The rhetoric of religious exemption is used to cover bigotry that would otherwise not be acceptable, and Christians who are not allowed to bully religious minorities indiscriminately actually go around acting like they are victims! A Christianity that is ungenerous, homogeneous and exclusive seems unfamiliar to me. We sit in churches and run churches where we do not share these same values. Why do we allow these people to run the narrative on our religion? In my interpretation of the Bible the only real sin is that we are not all rushing the southern border with open arms and open checkbooks helping to heal people, rub their feet, give them a good meal and help them figure out their next steps. Jesus threatens that woe will come to those who are a stumbling block to people who are trying to experience the love of God. Woe to you, if you throw LGBTQ teens out of the church in the name of God. Jesus wants us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner and these ideas of hospitality for the stranger and care for the poor, orphan and widow are part of both the Old and New Testaments. In the Bible I read, most of the male protagonists had children with many different women including their wives, concubines, maids, slaves and etc. And, there are many. many more admonishments against divorce and adultery than there are against same sex, sexual interaction. And, Jesus never mentions anything about same sex anything, at all. So, it is a stretch to say “it’s in the Bible” when you are in defense of marriage. Mostly, many Christians belong to churches, denominations and faith practices that are inclusive of everyone and fully believe that all people (with no exceptions) are part of the body of Christ. Many of us roll up our sleeves and do service work and participate in social justice activities because these are the building blocks of Christian living. Like WWJD? That whole thing. I suppose there is room for diversity in Christianity (rolls eyes), but if we let the Conservatives do all of the talking, they’re going to give us a bad name. It is hard enough getting young people to come back to church without our reputation turning people away for us. So, speak out, show up at protests with your collars on, write op-eds and find other ways to challenge the narrative and I’ll do my part. If we ever needed the gospel of Jesus, the true Word of God, we need it now!

Thank you for the work you do! – GJA
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