An Open Invitation!

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After much thinking and consternation of how to best yield my gifts (which obviously are not prized by capitalism, at least not at the rate I’m able to produce content), I’ve begun a Patreon account. Being patronized by my own private Medicis allows me to give you access to exclusive content, including chapters from upcoming books, long essays, already published ebooks, and new poems. I’ll continue to publish free content here, on the Medium blog, on Twitter, and even at the Patreon page (such as this short blog on North Korea and our own war crimes), but getting paid allows me to write more and gooder.

For as little as $5 a month, you can have full access to several books, chapters, poems, essays, and more.

For as little as $3 a month, you can have full access to poems, short essays, and more.

For as little as $1 a month, you have access to all the public stuff and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve assisted in spreading love and knowledge and peace. And I’ll blow you a kiss. Personally.

Again, check it out!

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The Problem of Blog Titles and White, Liberal Guilt

Despite whatever work individual authors, writers, editors, and publishers try to effect for it, Huffington Post is troublesome for the cause of justice.

Part of its problem is just the kind of catch-all liberalism/progressivism on its page. But, bigger than that to me is the way it sets itself up to sensationalize every piece of news and titles itself. On the one hand, it gives them a lot of eyeballs and helps to further progressive education. On the other hand, I’m not sure I like the kind of “education” going on. Your typical (meaning: EVERY) Facebook user can’t be bothered to open every link that comes her way, so she judges an by the title to what and in what way she’ll respond. And HuffPo is, for better and/or worse, the trendsetter in the blognews world. Some sites better headline writers than others, but all of us who have sent our articles out to a large blog conglomerate have gotten our headlines changed – sometimes drastically. And oftentimes, it changes not just the tone, but the meaning of what it is the author is trying to say.

And we know we can’t rely on intention…

Of course, I’d appreciate a much more collaborative process in the naming of our headlines. I’ve heard The Onion, for instance, has a policy where staff will have six or eight options to choose from before landing on a (quite honestly, pitch-perfect) option. But when you don’t have full-time editors and/or the writer and the copyeditor don’t have agreeable arrangements, this isn’t such an option.

I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, either. I’m very grateful for the chance that I’m given right now to expand my name and skills at a much, much larger blog than I’m maintaining here. The editors and publishers know how to give me eyes, and often the readers are more into actually reading and responding to the articles than I typically see at such sites. I know my editor and probably most editors work hard for meh money (if any) and tend to do good jobs within their systems.

But, again, the system is flawed. (That’s my theme around here: the system is fundamentally flawed! That should be my sub-line for every blog.) Take for instance this title:

America Is in Dire Need of ‘White, Liberal Guilt’

That title makes me see red. Despite noting the quotes around the term in question. Why?

  • Because HuffPo and the US is chock-full of White people who feel it is their burden to help out those poor People of Color and their People of Color Problems.
  • Because such a title puts the onus on Whites to be the Messiah and act in Messiahnic ways and thus, once again, silencing Black and Brown voices in their own liberation. It’s a colonial gaze that makes black and brown people mere subjects in the white kingdom. And that’s the problem we’re trying to address in the first place!
  • Because it removes the fundamental aspect of justice as a motivation and end goal from the situation. Guilt isn’t justice, nor even a motivator towards justice. And when it enters the equation, the goal is to eradicate guilt. Guilt is just feeling bad. And feeling bad can be assuaged in any number of ways. Charity work, marches, changing our avatars, sharing stories (such as ones that focus on White People and their White People Feelings), going out for ice cream. Not that those are bad things in and of themselves – they may show solidarity; they try to make sense of the horror; they may help a handful of people – but they do not address justice. At the end of the day, the injustice remains unchallenged but we whites can sure feel better about ourselves. For white privileged people the motivating factor for that which doesn’t directly affect us needs to be addressing justice in solidarity.
  • Because it focuses on feelings and particularly, the feelings of Whites. Because, once again, our feelings as White People are more important than the lived experiences of the oppressed…
  • If there is a feeling that should be prioritized, it’s anger. Anger at the injustice of targeting and murdering of black people, unjust laws, and the criminal justice system that justifies and encourages this.
Untitled

I haz the sadz…

Reading the comments in the article or the comments on its posting on The Christian Left page (disclaimer, the author of the HuffPo piece and some of the creators of TCL are FBF’s of mine) reveal this troubling trend. What it also demonstrates is that White liberals tend to view racism (when they do) as being a problem of white conservatives and do not seem to recognize the intrinsic White Supremacy all whites directly benefit from, let alone critique it. I say, “when they do” because, let’s be honest, White people were not talking about the rolling back of generations of rights and gains for Black USians coming out of the SCOTUS three weeks ago. They were too busy feeling outrage over some words by some phony celebrity chef.

Again, because White America likes to protect White America’s feelings. And recognizing that the entire judicial system is geared against black people would be to recognize that it favors white people. And that is something that we have to contend with. And contending with stuff may hurt our feelings…

The Holy Spirit Shall Set Us Free through the Marginalized – Listen, Christians

When I speak, the words burst out.
“Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
have made me a household joke.
But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
I can’t do it!
 I have heard the many rumors about me.
They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”
They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”
Even my old friends are watching me,
waiting for a fatal slip.
“He will trap himself,” they say,
“and then we will get our revenge on him.”…

Sing to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
For though I was poor and needy,
he rescued me from my oppressors.

-Jeremiah 20 (NLT)

I’m a slave for Christ.

But that’s my choice. I choose to be that. And as a result, I have a calling on my life, a burning in my belly toward seeking and speaking truth.

And in doing so, I recognize that I’ll never really arrive at truth. I can’t – and not just because truth is less a destination than a journey. But because truth isn’t atomic; it may be personal in some ways, but it isn’t divorced from the other. And I’ll fail a lot and I may – in the process of speaking my own understanding of truth – hurt others. Sometimes, that hurt is a bit of discomfort – and that’s okay. We need that tension, because that’s how we grow.

But my calling isn’t to just speak some unmoored, ethereal “Truth.” It’s to occupy a space and speak with the Spirit of God as I recognize her voice on behalf of liberation. And I hear her voice not just in meditation, not just in prayer, not just in the holy script, but also in the voice of those oppressed, marginalized, left behind, shuttered, bullied, alienated.

Wind Of Passion In My Wild River …!!! :)

So when the Spirit speaks to me through multiple voices, I do well to stop whatever it is I have been doing and reconsider my role, my actions, my words, my behavior. Although I may spend some time defending myself and my bruised ego, I am becoming to recognize that that in itself is an act of further entrapment.

See, the Holy Spirit is my friend and uses these voices, these people and their stories and perspectives, to help set me free from the bondage of patriarchy – and into, in my case, the work of Christ the Liberator, Christ the Redeemer. Of course, people want to be set free from their own traps – but we can’t sit here and lie to ourselves that agency and oppression only works on an atomized, individualized level, because that’s not how oppression or slavery works. As King said in A Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

 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.

It ultimately benefits a middle class suburbanite when an urban* single mother is free of the tyranny of food insecurity. It ultimately benefits a male pastor when he is freed from the constraints of parsing strict gender roles and the misogyny and misanthropy that is essential to that set of doctrines.

If the truth, as they say, shall set us free, then we need to embark on embracing and accepting the truth. Not defending our intentions from it. We do no justice when we protest, in light of criticism, “But I am/he is/she is a good person who meant no harm.” We demonstrate our intentions when we seek to undo the wrong.

And finally, when we try to redraw and redefine the terms of what is acceptable and what isn’t – what is offensive and what isn’t – based on something that benefits us and/or the oppressive system, then we are failing miserably at listening to the Holy Spirit.**

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*Note: not code-speak, though it can be interpreted that way.

**Two tangentially-related multi-platform stories that have erupted in the post-evangelical Christian blogging world have inspired this post. The first is the series talked about in the frame of last week’s post, Racism Isn’t About You, about how white people should not get so offended at the suggestion that what they say may be racially exclusionary (a breakdown here). It got a ton more ridiculous when another white progressive Christian blogger tried to redefine the terms of the conversation, telling the oppressed that they should differentiate in their language between “active” racists and oppressors and “passive” racists and oppressors. No, seriously, that’s what he said. And other progressive White male Christians lined up to agree. Not all of them, of course. I guess just the passive ones.

The other thread is on a post on modesty culture (which is a take-down of Christian culture notions, teachings and a culture of modesty that put the onus on women to prevent the taking of their “sexual purity” and, just as importantly, to prevent their Christian brothers from thinking lustful thoughts. Yes, it’s a big thing). One such post had some pretty damaging language and quite a few bloggers, including Sarah Moon, called it out for that language and its assumption that certain clothes or accessories (in this case, “glitter. On her tits”) deprive the woman of the ability to call out gazes that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The author and the host felt that their work was being misunderstood because it’s pretty obvious that they wouldn’t support modesty culture, and because their hearts were in the right place (I wouldn’t deny that). But, again, there was more covering and, rather than considering the offense of the original post, they doubled down.

Again, it’s human and I understand. But it’s hurtful and anti-prophetic, untruthful.