Liz’s Top Ten Deep Moments of 2010

December 31st, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

1. In Chi-Town: Daley announces he will not run again as Mayor.
Ok, this may not be big for non-Chicagoans, but this is deep. Richard M. Daley has been mayor since 1989. That’s a long freakin time. His daddy was mayor for 21 years, so there’s a bit of a dynasty here. So it’s deep because of that. But it’s also deep cuz it is just so damn exciting – the possibilities! If we could elect a real reformer, one that will pay attention to neighborhoods, it would be such a breath of fresh air. I’m watching closely.

Honorable Mention: Chicago loses bid for Olympics in first round (and I laugh).



2. In the Federal Government: Health Care Reform Passes

Whether you agreed or disagreed with what went into Health Care Reform, this was major deepness. The largest legislation since the New Deal. I was so tired of hearing opponents tell me, “The United States has the best system in the world…So and so (foreign celebrity/political leader) came here for surgery.” Great…so foreign so and so can come here, but 1 in 7 Americans are uninsured and therefore without access to basic healthcare. Preventive medicine people!

Wow, I can still get riled up about it.

Honorable Mention: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed.

3. In State Government: Arizona and SB 1070

What does an illegal immigrant look like, Governor Brewer? Enough said.













4. Not in the News: Georgia Prisoners Peacefully Protest

The largest prison protest in history and I had to hear about it from independent blogs. How does this not make major news? At least four Georgia prisons in lockdown? Prisoners (some belonging to groups that would normally fight each other) peacefully protesting for their rights? News fail. So deep. So frustrating.



5. In Catastrophes: Haiti is hit by earthquake.
It’s sad to think how fixed our eyes were on this and how quickly we have moved on. Haiti continues to struggle – with infrastructure, safety, food, elections. Let’s return our gaze.

Honorable Mention: Oil Spill in the Gulf. 

6. In Religion: Pope Benedict XVI condones the use of condoms among male sex workers in order to prevent the spread of HIV.

This was an interesting story because news outlets treated it as a reversal of Catholic teaching, but it seems debatable that it was –  the Pope provided a very nuanced answer. His answers were not shocking to me, as I can guess many Catholic teachers/care providers have practiced some version of it.  It does not surprise me that Catholic teaching would err on the side of placing the health and care of male sex workers first, but it shows that the Catholic Church has difficulty messaging – everybody thinks they know what the Catholic Church believes and I have a feeling most are wrong. Also the Catholic Church is HUGE. There are gonna be multiple opinions (regardless of the Pope). Just sayin’. Interesting questions arise though. Read two versions of the story here and here.



7. In Food: We’re running out of chocolate. 

Yeah, you heard me. That’s what they’re saying. Chocolate is gonna become like caviar. The supply cannot meet the demand. This story freaked me out when I read it. What am I gonna do without Chocolate Chip cookies???? Start hoarding people! You have been warned.

Honorable Mention: KFC Double Down

8. In the Tea Party: Glenn Beck Rallies…for what again?

Take back America for who Glenn? “We will reclaim the civil rights movement.” Riiiighhht….I hope 2011 is the year where Glenn Beck shuts up. Wishful thinking? Sigh.

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9. In Entertainment: Taylor Swift’s Performance at VMAs

Ok, so there were actually a lot of deep moments in entertainment. And there are probably some that are deeper than this one….but I had to put this. Hot mess. Taylor sounds awful. The song is so patronizing. The setting…so messed up. She’s like this beautiful young country white girl in the 50s who has condescended to the angry black man. “I forgive you Kanye!” Bleh.

Team Kanye, anybody? Although, thank God that saga has been put to rest.

2010 MTV Video Music Awards

10. On the web: The launching of our blog, duh! 

Or what was originally, Salt N Peppa, remember that? (LOL) We started this in February and if I do say so myself, it’s (and we are) pretty awesome. May the deepness continue on into 2011!

Honorable Mention: Microaggressions. Such a good idea. I wish I’d thought of it.

Happy New Year Everyone!

God Bless America?: Being White, Christian and American

September 17th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Well Amber,

You may have been on hiatus, but you came back in full force. If there’s a topic that will get me really fired up, this is it (well….there are probably many topics like that, but this is one of them). This is a myth I hate: the white American Christian whose religion is (un)equally a patriotic and biblical one.

Why do I hate this myth so much? Because it’s a mask and Christianity (as a faith) is about taking off masks. Because it’s banking on a privilege and Christians should be working hard to dismantle that privilege, not tapping into it. Because it alienates and hurts.

Because, what would Jesus do? ;)

First, cut the Christian nation talk. Stop demanding that America turn back to God. Glenn Beck is wrong – America does not need to turn back to God. A country can’t turn back to whom it was never with. The country may have been founded on cultural religious principles, but it was hardly spiritual. Ain’t nothin spiritual about owning slaves or genocide.

Here’s the raw difference: there’s Christianity the culture and Christianity the faith. The white American Christian myth is cultural. The faith should not be. But the distinction is often lost.

Christians need to understand the power of cultural Christianity as a privilege and guard against it. White American Christians must understand the peculiar and potent mix of their privilege. The myth of a Christian nation is intoxicating…to white Christians. Because, it’s branded for us. How easy is it to entwine God and country when the American narrative is always about you? Why shouldn’t God be too?

Sigh.

It hurts me when I hear white Christians talk so easily of the “American church” as if it is a monolith – a body that sees, hears and experiences the same things. Or when my boss (of former years) sees my cross and assumes I’m Republican. It hurts when white Christians act as if they don’t need to try to understand another Christian’s perspective or leave their racism unchecked or their sexism becomes entwined with their Christian language. I am tired of Christian arguments with no historical context. I am so frustrated with a white Christian culture that has settled in a hotel penthouse in America, only to lumber out if threatened – but not when others feel threatened. I so tired of a (white) religion of charity without justice.

Life is complicated. The world is complicated. Being a Christian doesn’t make it less so. If anything, it highlights the need to understand how complicated it is. And unfortunately, the church as an institution is a part of that complication. America’s “christianity” (the one referred to in all the speeches) has been a religion allied with power – building up slavery and wealth, fighting against the rights of others, producing fear and prejudice.

The white American Christian myth draws its power from privilege. That’s not what Jesus does. His power is distinctly dis-privileged. And more powerful. His is the one that marched against dogs and hoses.

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!”  - Jesus =)

I look forward to the day when politicians no longer invoke God or use certain “christian” code words. I just don’t think we serve the same God.

God bless….?

America, Mosques and Ground Zero: A Symbol of What and for Whom

August 3rd, 2010 § 7 comments § permalink

Amber,

I’m going to take us away from gender for a bit – I’m sure we’ll return to the topic. Today, I read an article at Slate (shout out to Anaka – thanks!) about the recent controversy over a plan to build a mosque and community center near Ground Zero in NY. I’d heard of this fight before, but here was a collection of quotes from Republican and religious leaders declaring their opposition to this project. A sampling:

“To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks.” – Sarah Palin

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” – Newt Gingrich

“It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology.” – Newt Gingrich

“Even though the vast majority of Muslims reject that ideology and condemned their actions on Sept. 11, 2001, it still remains a fact that the people who perpetrated the 9/11 attack were Muslims and proclaimed they were doing what they were doing in the name of Islam. Given that fact, I believe that it is inappropriate for a mosque to be at Ground Zero.” – Dr. Richard Land

The same leaders who tout America’s superiority, due to its freedom and democracy, are the same who demand restrictions on fellow Americans’ freedom. Because let’s not be mistaken, this mosque and community center is for Americans. Islam is in America. It is not foreign. It is not other. It is American.

But that is not the narrative we wish to create, that is not the story we tell, that is not the America we have constructed. When Palin says it would be a stab in the heart of victims’ families, I wonder if she has considered the families of those who died and who are Muslim? Or are they not her “real” America?

And is Gingrich honestly suggesting that we mirror the actions of oppressive countries? That the decisions we make and the causes we support should be based on the actions of foreign countries and not the needs of our citizens? Because, again, this is an American mosque and community center.  A mosque and community center would be a powerful symbol of peace if erected at the site of one of the most powerful symbols of the “consequences of radical Islamic philosophy.”

I remember standing at the top of Cape Coast Castle, in its Church, staring at a verse from the Psalms, “For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling.” Moments before I stood in dungeons where enslaved Africans were held. A dungeon below a church. A symbol of evil.

It is not a symbol of my faith. It is a symbol of my faith corrupted, a symbol of inhumanity covering its sins with “righteousness.”

Should no church be near sites such as these?

If America claims to be democratic and free, New York City will allow the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. We will not speak of Muslims as foreigners, as only perpetrators and not victims, but as Americans seeking to build a place of worship and community, to contribute their own narrative.  

But 54 percent of Americans do no believe a mosque should be built.

America’s values are its greatest asset and its biggest lie.

And its civil religion – honoring a god that is American* patriotic** – is its own church atop a dungeon – masking the ugliness below. But that may be another topic.






* Who is American in that civil religion narrative?
** And what is patriotic?

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