Monday, February 19, 2018

Summary: African American Land Acquisition and Loss: Reconstruction to the 21st Century

Here is the summary paragraph of a manuscript that is now off to the editor.  Maybe the document will be worthy of publication or it won't.  Maybe the editor will recommend minor revisions or major revisions. Now is the time of waiting the editor's professional opinion.  That opinion counts.  

In retrospect, here are some things I have experienced in reading and researching the last several months:  1) racism has a long, long, brutal history in our country; 2) we have not resolved it yet, and maybe we'll never resolve it; 3) America is a country that has embraced violence from the very beginning; 4) African Americans at Freedom were way, way behind the curve in terms of wealth, property, and belongingness as equal citizens; 5) I cannot escape my own history of whiteness and enslavement of Africans; 6) life here in the USA under the current President* looks very similar to life in the USA before, during, and after Reconstruction; 7) we still live in a land of the privileged and the not so privileged; and 8) as a nation, we have never repented of what our ancestors did to American Indians or enslaved Africans. 

"The path from the shores of Africa to modern day farming via the Antebellum South, Reconstruction, and into Freedom was an arduous and painful process that few can begin to imagine. As millions embarked and ten percent fewer disembarked, a dark day in American history had dawned. Removed from their countries, cultures, and languages, these enslaved Africans both toiled under the brutal whip of slavery and invented ways to maintain their personhood. Their African worlds involved a rural, agricultural context. This was not lost as they were forcibly removed to the U.S. They inventively created ways and means of preserving some sense of dignity that involved economics led for some to property ownership and ultimately to landownership. While the overwhelming majority of freed Africans did not come to be landowners, significant numbers did eventually own their own land, tilling the soil the ways they did in Africa and in the days of slavery. Following a period of immense growth in ownership with all of the attendant features pertaining to owning the land, a precipitous slide toward disenfranchisement and land loss occurred, which remains relatively unabated to this day. Primary and secondary data sources were used to capture land acquisition as well as loss across regions of the South. The data sources are not without their problems and must be explored tenaciously with a high degree of academic acumen. The reasons behind land loss must also continue to be explored including systemic racism, USDA policies, heir property and partition sales, and other factors. Stories of land loss must be heard because their stories are worthy of the hearing."

Friday, February 16, 2018

What Are Those Tears in My Eyes?

What are those tears in my eyes?

Do they take me to another place
or do they remind of that space
and will they help me find the grace
and to continue to trace
the ways so as to someday see your face
or do they give me the energy to continue the race

of life to chase the never ending ways that memories intrude
and when the Holy One exudes
that majestic go and preach to the people beyond your reach
to those whose lives are lived on the edge of the chasm and teach

us that this ongoing battle over who owns

their soul
and who stole

and who throws the stones
and over the world still roams

and yet they have the right to speak
and eat and live and cry and die and not so meek
and before that to feed their children right from the start
and to feel their own need and to give us a generous heart
to heed their yearnings to build them a house
to place the possessions of the man his children his spouse

not by the color of their skin
feeling deeply the sin
of those who dwell within

the house of the evil one
who still lives under the same warm sun

of all of us
but to embrace the grace

that embraces us all
lest we fall
into misery of judgment and hate
and find ourselves with an empty plate
heaped up and running over with the fate

that we deserve
when we failed to serve
and when we have become a shell
on our way to hell

and of what service there could have been
had we loved all of God’s children

less than the big gun
from which we run
and on the walk-ways we see the blood
the deep red blood
where once they stood
now they cower in fear
that the end is near

while we ponder and pontificate
until it is too late
for that which we hate
and while we wait

another one plans the scheme
of which they dream
to tell a story of suffering and woe
and we are the foe

we have become

when our time is near we stop and pause
know that we spent our lives in a sacred cause
and retrieve the world from the grimy paws
of the evil one
because our race is run

but Lord you gave us strength
that brought us from the brink
of doubt and fear
and you were near

every step of the way

of the journey when you fed our souls
and you made us bold
to proclaim the truth
that cuts to the root
protect the babies and in them we hope
that when we are at the end of our rope
that we find strength to cope

with a world gone mad
and we find it sad

that we love our guns
see us make them run

just lead us out of the wilderness

of our own morose and madness into a better place
where we can see your face
because it looked a whole lot like those of another race
and their cries of sorrow and joy
it all began in the stable with that little boy

when evil and good
could be divided like we knew it would
just like that Red Sea of old
when they made it across
and they knew that you were boss
they left behind comfort and all that they lost
and the land was dry
and every tear-filled eye

and every heart was undivided and relieved

but on to the destiny of a wilderness wandering
that would lead them all to pondering
much like today when all around us we see and despair
there is too much to share

so we find our own people
who may not be inside under the steeple
for they may be out and about
looking for things about which to shout

and when I stop and listen

I know I am home
never more to roam
just to stand and sing
and let our hearts ring
for what is true and just
we have found it we must.

We find no peace at the end of a gun
When our race we’ve run
At the grave we stand
Not really part of your plan

forgive us we pray
lead us into a better day
when the life we save
this side of the grave

may be that girl or boy
now playing with that worn out toy
may we find more joy
before the children we destroy

What are the tears in my eyes?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hanging Out with Jesus Might Get You in Trouble

Hanging out with Jesus
            Or so that text seemed to say;
Those folks were pretty new to him and him to them
            So they moseyed off by themselves to get more acquainted.

Hanging out around the nets
            Or the tax collection booth or under some tree;
But now they’re hanging out with the Man from Nazareth
            Just wondering how it played out.

How much was Him laying it on the line
            Or telling stories;
How much was a question and answer period
            As they decided whether to continue the journey.

Or, were their minds already made up
            So that this hanging out together business
Was just a deepening of the relationship
            Prepping for what was ahead.

Who knew that the woman at the well was coming
            Who knew that the woman taken in adultery was next
Who knew that the man with leprosy was somewhere down the road
            Who knew that the seas raging was going to be part of the plan.

Did they know how their views of life would change,
            Did they know that what was sacred would get flipped,
Did they know that things they’d always known would get scrambled,
            Did they know that the rules would be turned upside down.

Surely they did not know that He’d weep with those who wept,
            Surely they did not know that women would support His ministry,
Surely they did not know that the privileged would be threatened,
            Surely they did not know that the blind would see and the lame walk.

Maybe they had an inkling that the poor were his focus,
            Maybe they had an inkling that justice was His middle name,
Maybe they had an inkling that they would see a different righteousness,
            Maybe they had an inkling that they did not have a clue.

The blind could see, the deaf could hear,
            The pushed to the curb invited to the inner circle,
The untouchable would be embraced,
            The ones left beside the road would be taken to the inn.

What are we to learn about the Man from Nazareth,
            What are we to learn from the way He walked,
What are we to learn from the hard-headed followers,
            What are we to learn from their time of hanging out together.

What if I were to hang out with Him for a while,
            Who would I stand up for and who would be embraced,
Would it be the immigrants, the poor, the LGBTQ, the person of color,
            Or could it maybe be those without insurance or those who are homeless.

Would I yell for justice to the leaders of the land
            Who say disparaging things about women or the disabled,
Would I scream from the rooftops against those who have sold the church
            And the Kingdom for a nationalistic agenda.

Would I march when some are sitting satisfied,
            Would I write words of discomfort to those who’ve already decided,
Would I donate to the causes of justice that trouble the privileged,
            Would I join up for those who are leading these efforts.

Hanging out with Jesus just might get some of us in trouble.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Something is Happening in America

These words are not my own. They come from a young woman who writes and says it better than anyone I know. Thanks, Shena, for allowing me to share your story on this page. I hope those of us who read this post will read the words and weep. Read them. Weep. Do something. Do anything. Do something. Do something that makes racial profiling a thing of the past.
"A sad reality of being black in America. The guy in his Snapchat put as his caption “Racist, lol,” but there’s nothing funny about it...
Just like it wasn’t funny a few weeks ago when I was looking for my new office space, and the owner, upon seeing me, brought me into the conference room and grilled me for 15 minutes about the type of client I would be seeing. He kept asking me questions about their noise level, telling me he can’t have any kids running around his building, stating how this is a professional building and needing me to understand that they keep a “certain type of atmosphere” here, while interrupting me to ask me the same questions again.
Foolishly, I still put in a rental application because the space was gorgeous, and upon calling my references, he still calls me back and says “it just doesn’t sit right in [his] gut what I’m trying to do.”
What?!! What am I trying to do? Since when is therapy provocative?
He proceeds to try to ask me the same questions as before to which I cut him off and say I’m not answering any more questions and will be moving on.
This happened 5 minutes from where I live.
And then at HEB, my favorite place on earth, I was chased down by a CSM who thought I stole some post-it’s, after spending $100 on a previous order at the self check out.
Again... what?!!
In that instance, O and I walked away incredulous in silent shock at first at how small that questioning made me (us) feel, before doing what you have to do when these things happen which is shake them off (O made a joke to break the tension) and keep going.
These experiences, though common, are never those I never get used to. Sometimes I live in my little diversity bubble of friends and serving black and brown kids at the school and my rainbow of private practice clients so much that when I step out, I’m sadly reminded that the rules are different for me.
To some, I am ghetto, unprofessional, a thief, a danger, ignorant, poor, etc until proven otherwise.
To those who read the article below and watched the videos and thought, “Well, I understand where they’re coming from... they have to do their job...” your thinking and excusal of this is part of the problem. You are biased and have racist thoughts, and need to challenge it if you want to grow. You need to assess why this level of scrutiny was appropriate for him, and I hope you would land on that it wasn’t."
James Conley III added a photo and 4 videos — at Old Navy Jordan Creek Tc.
Today I was racially profiled by the Old Navy store in West Des Moines, Iowa in Jordan creek. I was accused that I didn't pay for my blue bubble jacket that I got for Christmas that I wore into the store. As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing. First, I started laughing because I didnt believe what I was hearing. The store manager Beau Carter was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male. He says "anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customers clothing to insure that it was previously purchased". (Where do they do that at?) Every time I go to this store I have on my same exact winter blue jacket and have never been asked to scan my clothing and the previous "non-black" customers had on identical apparel as me from old navy but was never asked to scan their clothing. Then after they scan my jacket they try to make me repay for it?? Finally the District Manager Shannon (who refused to give out her last name) came out and I made her check the surveillance tape to prove that her and her fellow employees were in the wrong for racially profiling me because of the color of my skin. Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me nor did the store manager Beau Carter as you can see in my videos below. #RacialProfiling #CrazyWorld #NoMore #OldNavy #VeryDisappointed#ThankGodForKeepingMePoised #Repost #Share

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Patient Continuum Services in Translational Settings: Theory and Technology to Advance Specialized Counseling

The authors of this poster session are deeply concerned about the quality of services delivered in the field of regenerative medicine.  We are also concerned that services are available to all, not just to those who can write the big checks.  We are hoping that stem cell research will advance and that cures will be found, and that along the way, the health insurance industry will do what is right,  cover the costs of the procedures. Please click on the image if you'd like to see the text that accompanies the visual.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Idols of the Day, Attachments of Now

Gerald May has shaped my thinking about idols.  His books which include Addiction and Grace and Will & Spirit have been game-changers for me. He asserts that God as God is not willing to become an object of our attachment or one of our idols.  We cannot become addicted to God as an idol the way we do other idols such as drugs, alcohol, sex, or power, or whatever.  We can, however, become attached to an image of God.  An image of God is not God. An image of God is an image of God. God is beyond our images.

Since we are humans, we seek out objects of our attachment. Our humanity is displayed. We are addicted. When we are attached to the object of our addiction, the entirety of ourselves changes, physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, cognitively, because we have found the fix for which we yearn, or at least that for which we think we yearn.

I sit in the midst of all manner of prophets. I read from the prophets of old, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Micah, the major ones and the minor ones.  Those prophets who warned of impending doom when the people decided to follow their own way. Yes, the ones who said that Israel and Judah were about to fall. I also read about the prophets who prophesied that Trump would be the second coming of Cyrus, King of Persia, and that God would use this flawed human being to straighten out America, and maybe the world. Following in sync are the names we recognize: Graham, Dobson, Jeffress, Robertson, Perkins, White, Land, Copeland, Bachmann, and you can probably name others.

Biblical texts demand that we sort them out:  Isaiah and his diatribe about creating idols and then worshipping them; Moses’ demand that the children of Israel in their journey drink the idol that they created, and then Jesus of Nazareth’s admonition to love God with the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.

We have created numerous idols or objects of our attachment from whom and from what we would be well served to abandon: American Nationalism, Trump as the Great Rescuer, white supremacy, money as the primary driving principle, Hilary and Barak to be hated, and immigrants as the enemy.  There are more. Any one of these idols is sufficient enough. The amalgamation of these idols is one of deep entrapment. We know we are in an idolatrous relationship with a person, idea, or thing, when in its presence we are safe and secure, and when we defend it against all reason. When information that is reasonable and when people of reason say to us, “Yes, but have you considered…….” and our instinctive dismissive is reminiscent of “I can stop drinking any time I wish, or I am not an alcoholic, or I am not addicted to whatever.”

We are inebriated at the power of our position, theology, politics, and the person and/or persons who symbolize that power. In doing so, we construct our own human-made idols and we marginalize other meaningful possibilities and those for whom Christ also died.

My prayer?  Very simple, “Lord, please release us from the bondage of our attachment to notions of power and to people and institutions that re-enforce those attachments. Free us to love one another as you have loved us.” 

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Late Christmas, or Is It an Early One?

We have been looking forward to today for quite some time.  Ever since we read of the Denton Black Film Festival, it has been at the very top of our to-go list.  So, today, we'll drive over to Denton late morning, find a good place for lunch, and then attend a series of events at the Campus Theater, downtown at 214 West Hickory.  

We'll view College Student Short films, "Talking in Black America," see "The Uncomfortable Truth," see the short film "Black Reparations," and perhaps stay for Steps.

Why you may be asking would the two of us venture into these particular waters?  Thank you for asking and thank you for taking the time to read my response and even to check out some of the links.

As mentioned in the previous blogpost, to some readers here, it may be a new thing to find your friend, Waymon Hinson, and his wife as well, involved in social justice sorts of things.  Our involvement goes back to 1994 when I heard an aristocratic voice at the other end of the line say, "Dr. Hinson, I think I have failed to communicate to you the seriousness of our concerns."  And he was correct. I was clueless.  I think America is clueless.  While some of that winding journey is chronicled in other places, this blog, chapel at Abilene Christian University, in one publication, and in several presentations at BFAA Land Loss Summits, now another part of the story is developing.

This post is getting too long, so let me brief it up a bit.

For several months now, I have been working on a project, "African American Land Acquisition and Dispossession: Reconstruction to Today." That provides an important background piece. A second layer of it is Shoun Hill, New York City photographer and I will soon develop plans for the making of a documentary on pivotal cases that served to stir the Black Farmer Movement toward the Pigford Class Action Suit. More information on that later.

So, I am a story-teller and a gatherer of stories. Several years ago, when I was interviewing a number of farmers across the land, I told them of my commitment to tell their stories in places and space that they could not or would not go because their stories are worthy of being told. Many of those stories are found in audio and print media in a volume called, "Remembering Tillery's Historical Archives" under the watchful eye of the Concerned Citizens of Tillery 

So, this begins another layer of story-telling, that of film.  I intend to learn from such people as Loki Mulholland who has chronicled the story of his civil rights activist mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. Here is information about their foundation.  See this site for more information about the movie. And, today, he will be premiering another documentary on his family, "The Uncomfortable Truth." 

He is the revealer and the teacher. I am his watchful student.

Shoun and I will be the tellers of truth in ways that will likely make us all squirm.

Perhaps if you live in the DFW area, we can meet up in downtown Denton and learn together about various aspects of the righteous cause of story-telling and justice for all of our people.