Hello! Thank you for visiting my home on the web, I am still in the process of transitioning from my original blog: Esther’s Call to this blog. Thank you for your patience.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! Matthew 18:6-7
When I saw the Sandra Bullock and Baby Louis People Magazine cover unlike many Americans I did not think that the adoption was a happy ending. As a graduate student of social work I am taught to assess information and as an undergraduate student of Human Development I was taught about the importance of early childhood development. This information made me very disturbed by the fact that a fellow social worker placed an African-American baby in a home with a Nazi sympathizer.
I wrote this article for the June 2010 issue of Sojourners Magazine.
In April, the Environmental Protection Agency announced rules that could significantly reduce mountaintop-removal mining in the U.S. For longtime activists like Allen Johnson, co-founder of the group Christians for the Mountains (CFTM), it’s proof that “hope is not always in vain”—but only one step of a long journey towards environmental and economic justice in coal-mining areas of Appalachia.
Hope has long been kept alive by people like Kayford, West Virginia’s Larry Gibson, who hasn’t been afraid to stand up to the principalities and powers to protect his family’s mountain. Gibson has literally put his life on the line, facing gunshots, death threats from coal company supporters, and even the killing of his dogs.
According to Gibson, mountaintop removal, in which companies blow up mountains with dynamite to access coal, “destroyed over 3 million acres of mountains, 1.5 million in West Virginia alone.” Gibson calls the boundary between his property and the area destroyed by mountaintop removal “Hell’s Gate,” because no one can live on the other side.
The piece was first posted on A New & Unsettling Force Blog
With my Walmart job I have been able to get off of welfare and buy my home.”-Walmart Radio Ad
This morning while listening to the radio I heard the above quote in a commercial placed by Walmart. I have been paying close attention to the proposed East New York Walmart, because I was born and raised in this community. I do not think this ad was placed haphazardly, because corporations spend millions on marketing, and psychology is a VERY important aspect of advertising. To place this commercial on New York City’s first and only African-American-owned radio station shows that Walmart knows who it needs to reach to come to East New York, and this commercial hit a couple of targets. East New York is one of the twelve communities in New York City that sends the most people to prison; the community has very high poverty and violence rates. Walmart is very familiar with these statistics and the desperation that residents face, and it is exploiting this desperation.
This blog first appeared on the Poverty Initiative Union in Dialogue Blog: A New & Unsettling Force.
Below are two pieces by Poverty Initiative leaders discussing the different contexts in which they have served as chaplains and how this work is connected to the broader movement to end Poverty. The first is a reflection by Jennifer Wilder about her work with the Union protest chaplains who have been serving in Zuccotti (Liberty) Park for the past several weeks of Occupy Wall Street. Jenn’s reflection is followed by an excerpt from a reflection that Union alum and Poverty Initiative leader Onleilove Alston wrote about being a chaplain over the years with the Poverty Initiative, “on the field of battle for justice.”
CHAPLAINCY IN ZUCCOTTI PARK FOR ‘OCCUPY WALL STREET
I am a pro-life evangelical and a recent seminary graduate. I am also an Black formerly homeless woman, who grew-up in 1 of the 12 communities in New York City that sends the highest number of people to New York state prisons and a community organizer at one of city’s oldest non-profit agencies, for all of the above reasons I am attending the Young Democrats of America Faith & Values Summit this weekend in Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, I learned that the Paul Ryan budget had been released. I know that many of the proposed budget cuts from funding to AmeriCorps (which I am an alumni of) to social service funding will directly affect me, my community, my family and friends. As a Christian I know that Christ launched his earthly ministry by quoting the Hebrew text Isaiah 61 which states that the Gospel is: “good news to the poor”, yet when I look around my faith community I see my Christian brothers and sisters supporting policies and legislators that have nothing good to say to or about the poor. The YDA Faith & Values Summit gives me an opportunity to meet like minded people of faith, who are inspired by their faith to be politically engaged in progressive politics.
The YDA Summit is focused on equipping young Democrats to connect with people and communities of faith. Top Democratic leaders will train participants in communications and campaign strategies aimed at showing the deep connection shared between religious Americans and the Democratic Party that are values focused- values like loving our neighbor, justice and opportunity for all, and a belief that we’re greater together when we pursue the common good through our public policy.
The Summit is bringing together 100 young leaders from around the country who are committed to connecting with religious Millennials, a demographic group that is increasingly progressive. Through the Summit and other efforts of its Faith and Values Initiative, YDA is developing a strong Democratic faith contingent that speaks confidently about Democratic common good values. YDA is certainly entering new territory with this effort, but the timing and political environment could not be more ripe. Young people of faith are leaving the Republican Party in large numbers and looking for a new political home that is more in line with their values, and YDA is well-positioned to fill the void.
While there’s much work to do on the Democratic side when it comes to faith outreach, the Faith and Values Leadership Summit is an exciting first-step in what promises to be a worthwhile conversation about which Party best represents the values of people of faith. As I observe this season of Lent instead of fasting from certain foods like chocolate, I will travel to DC to keep the fast spoken of in another Hebrew text from the prophet Isaiah which states: “the kind of fasting God wants is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice…share your food with the hungry and give clothes to those who have nothing to wear” this has to be the fast I keep because my community desperately needs justice.
On Wednesday March 7, 2012 a delegation of grassroots, social service and advocacy organizations from across NYC and NY State converged on Albany for a Rally and Lobby Day for Economic Justice. Some of the issues that were being focused on were: the Welfare Grant Increase, Healthcare Reform, Childcare, CUNY & SUNY Scholarships for Foster Children, Job Training and Educational opportunities for welfare recipients, Tax Reform and other issues that benefit the 99% of New Yorkers. I attended with some of my co-workers and meet with legislators to speak on behalf of New York City’s faith community.
Prior to the lobby meetings we held a rally outside of the legislative chamber; this rally was led by high school and CUNY college students and as I walked by I noticed a man locking himself inside the chamber as if he was afraid of these young people, which proves we have more power than we think. See the rally article and video below:
Ithaca, New York’s new Mayor Svante Myrick truly has an inspiring story, during his childhood he was homeless and living in a car with his family until his grandparents took them in. Myrick went on to attend Cornell with the encouragement of a dedicated teacher. A Mayor with this background would be inspiring at any age but at 24-years old Mayor Myrick’s story is truly a modern-day miracle; in spite of his achievements Svante does not consider himself a “self-made man” but credits all who helped him along the way. In a time of constant negative political news it is refreshing to hear this story because it can give us hope for our country’s civic future. He is inspired by President Obama’s historic journey to the White House and just as the President inspired him I am sure Mayor Myrick will inspire countless other young Black men. Svante’s story is proof that people of color and poor people can achieve greatness if given the opportunity.
This is a lenten reflection I wrote for Park Avenue Christian Church’s Lenten Series and I wanted to share it with all of you in the hopes that you receive some encouragement from it, be blessed!
Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus was desperate for healing, so he boldly called out for what he needed though he was rebuked for doing so. Bartimaues’ neighbors probably found his display of desperation embarrassing and unsettling. Many times in our communities we allow ourselves and others to suffer in silence, but in this passage, God shows us that he is not unsettled by our cries, but will respond to them.