The Holy Trinity of Freedom, Violence, and Justice

Freedom has a price to pay, and the cost is most often violence. The new movie, “The Free State of Jones,” clearly presents this harsh reality. The movie is based on the real life story of Newton “Newt” Knight, a farmer who deserted the Confederate army. He took up company and became the leader of other poor white farmers in Jones County, Mississippi.

From Confederate Soldier to Robin Hood

The Civil War, like most wars, was about money—those who had it and wanted to preserve it at the expense of the free labor of others. The greed of the South went beyond slavery to include taxation by corrupt Confederate soldiers who stole animals and crops from local farmers, leaving their unprotected women and children with little means to survive.

In addition to the senseless loss of lives, Knight was disturbed by the “Twenty Negro Law.” This law was enacted to exempt the sons of wealthy slave owners from fighting in the war. One white male was exempt from military service for every 20 slaves the plantation owned. This was a classic case of the poor man fighting the rich man’s war. This war was crippling the economy and crippling families.

It is under this backdrop that Knight, a principled, loyal, family man rallied fighters in a form of guerrilla warfare against the Confederacy and became “Robin Hood” to his local community. Once they started to defeat military units and concur territories, Knight and his followers sought the support and affirmation of the Union, but that never officially came.

Therefore, they named their community “The Free State of Jones”, laying ground rules of equally of all people, the right for people to benefit from the fruit of their own labor, and to defend their rights to freedom. Some scholars believe that they officially declared themselves an independent nation.

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.

Too Close to Home: Why Charleston Matters to All of Us

On the one year anniversary of the Charleston Massacre, I had the opportunity to share my reflections with Christianity Today The Local Church alongside:

Patricia Raybon who wrote about “Charleston and the Resilience of Wednesday Night Church,”

Dawn Araujo-Hawkins who shared “What It Means to Burn Down a Black Church,” and

Derek Rishmawy who contributed “What Emanuel AME Taught Us About God’s Unrelenting Love”

My contribution, “Too Close to Home: Why Charleston Matters to All of Us” is extremely personal and I’m so glad to share it.

Charleston_Black Lives Matter3

“Who are you?” When someone asks a question about my identity, the first response that comes to mind is “I am a black girl from Orangeburg, South Carolina.” Long before I became a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, a US Marine, an author, or a minister of the gospel, I was a black woman. And the root of this knowing was in the heritage of my family, the soil of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and the waters of the Edisto River.

Orangeburg is a community filled with black people and culture, the home of two historically black colleges and universities: South Carolina State University and Claflin University. There I tailgated at college football games and enjoyed HBCU homecomings that included the “battle of the bands” and step competitions. Little girls played in the backyard with their cousins and devoured home-cooked meals made at the hands of their big bosom mothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

During the summer months, we would run through the sprinklers in our bathing suits and swim caps (because there was no way we were getting our hair wet). We would spend countless hours enjoying the sunshine on those hot summer days in June, studying the moss hanging from our trees. Sometimes we would sit inside and watch TV as we listened to the violent summer rain.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, we would go to church. Sundays were for worship; Wednesdays were for Bible study, Vacation Bible School, or hanging in the back room until mom finished choir rehearsal. These precious times were filled with sacred artifacts: pews, wooden floors in old Baptist churches, the sides of brick store fronts or white slab buildings with small crosses that showed passersby who we were and to whom we belonged. We belonged to Jesus. Our simple songs clearly proclaimed this truth.

These small churches most likely had dirt or gravel parking lots and a small cemetery off to the side, the tombstones surrounded by uncut grass and ant hills, with fading names above the birth and transition dates of those who had gone on before us.

When I heard about the pain and suffering Dylann Roof inflicted on the families of Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, US Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson by murdering them in the sanctuary of God that is Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I was not shocked because of the reality of the deaths that took place on June 17, 2015. These things happen every day.

I was shocked because I have family members who knew people who died in Emanuel AME Church on that Wednesday night. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a graduate of South Carolina State University. I was stunned by the overwhelming history and mystery wrapped up in this racially motivated massacre that took place in 2015.

This was too close to home.

Continue reading at The Sanctuary.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Sex

In 1991, the all-female hip hop group, Salt-n-Pepa, released a song titled, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” It was their biggest crossover hit, and sealed their positions as hip hop royalty. I might have been in the sixth grade when the song was released but I knew the song, and sung the hook even when I wasn’t absolutely sure of everything they were talking about. My parents didn’t know.

The irony of the track was they were singing and rapping about a taboo topic. At that time few people talked about sex in public (at least not among strangers) when most adults, both single and married, were actively engaging in the activity. But they also rapped about how sex can be used as a weapon, not for love, and how people can engage in irresponsible sexual practices. Near the end of the song, they call for all their ladies to talk about sex.

Well today, I’m answering that call. I want us to talk about sex!

Pastors Hurting Children

This week I have been troubled yet again of a news report of two pastors in Tennessee who were recently arrested in a human trafficking sting. These pastors were among 32 men charged with prostitution and human trafficking where children were being sold online for sex. One of these pastors served as a children’s minister, the other as a “Creative Pastor” at a different church.

Lets Talk about Sex

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.