I am humbled and blessed to be apart of Sojourners Emerging Voices Project which is a initiative that aims to raise the voices of new leaders for faithful justice. I found out about this in the spring but the project was officially launched yesterday. God is hilarious because a few years ago I complained to friends and God about the lack of women and people of color speaking, leading and writing in the faith-based social justice world. Often when we complain about something that needs to get done God will point back at you and say “why don’t you do it?” In 2007 I was discouraged about the lack of concern for justice I observed in the church, had recently left a really bad church situation and was praying and crying about the gap between my reality and the church. During that time after a fast I learned about Sojourners from a email to Union students inviting us to apply for a scholarship to the Pentecost 2007 Conference (which I thought was a Black Pentecostal Social Justice Conference, one of my girlfriends even thought I was going to meet somebody there, LOL). I attended the conference and found a community of Christians striving for justice nationally but more importantly in NYC. At the conference I met Lisa Sharon Harper (a fellow Emerging Voices member), Rev. Peter Heltzel and Anna Lee Winans all founders of NY Faith & Justice. I returned home fired up to organize people of faith for social justice. A year later I was able to intern at Sojourners as a Beatitudes Society Fellow and began writing for the magazine and blog. I never expected to have these opportunities but God does hear our spoken and unspoken prayers. Those who know me know that I come from very humble circumstances and I was not raised in church, all I have to qualify me for this work is God’s grace and the words of my testimony.
The Circle of Protection, a nationwide group of Christian leaders from diverse traditions who have come together to lobby for the poor recently asked President Obama and Mitt Romney to address poverty and a small miracle happened they actually got a response! I think that it is sad to see that as the poverty rate grows and the middle class shrinks our politicians are silent. As a person from poverty and as a organizer I believe that the poor have to speak for themselves and hold elected officials responsible. As we approach the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street what are ways in which poor people can raise their own voices to speak about their reality?
See short video messages from both President Obama & Mitt Romney below:
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.