The Black Body: Prophets Against Empire

beautiful-black-womanAnd I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. – Revelation 11.3 – 10, NASB

The task of those who take up the mantle to speak prophetically against systems of injustice in this world is an arduous one. When you dare to fight against empire, empire most often fights back. When you become emboldened through the power of the Holy Spirit to speak against oppression, oppressors do not sit idly by – they crack down harder, hoping with every ounce of their being to either make you irrelevant, silence you, or obliterate you altogether. And they often do so in front of the world, using the oppression and death of the outspoken as an example of what can happen when one dares to challenge injustice.

Such is what happened to the two prophets, or witnesses, in the book of Revelation. While it can be argued that these two were persecuted because of their beliefs, we must take our analysis distorted by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B Jenkins a little further and also consider how these two men spoke out against an oppressive, sadistic system which caused deep hunger, poverty, and war while also challenging the people of the empire who committed idolatry, murder, and theft. With every word they spoke, they agitated a system that was bent on destruction and angered a people who would have preferred to wallow in misery than receive the mercies of God. For three and a half years, the two prophets – empowered by the Holy Spirit – rattled this evil system until they were overpowered and killed.

And the bodies of the prophets laid in the street for three and a half days. Unmoved. Untouched. And the people who they prophesied against refused them a proper burial because the prophets forced them to face their sins. For three and a half days, the people mocked and taunted the dead prophets. And the empire was complicit in the mockery because at last, the outspoken voices who reminded it of its wickedness and oppression were silent. Three and a half days. 84 hours. 302,400 seconds of rotting in the hot sun as an example to anyone else who would dare to challenge structural sin and oppression.

Embodying blackness, Mike Brown dared to challenge an empire who wanted to forget about its history of oppression and sin.* As a young, black man in a country which so desperately longed to be post-racial, or rather, a country who wanted to forget about blackness, Mike and so many like him who are profiled and killed on a daily basis, was a constant reminder of the America’s sin. Like the prophets of old, he drew attention to the nation’s history of injustice and exploitation. Like the prophets, his presence agitated folks who did not want to face the truth about the way in which they had been complicit in the sin of empire. And so, they killed him and left him in the street for 4 ½ hours, his decaying body serving as an example to every other black person of what happens when you dare to live the truth.

As with Mike, the same has held true of so many other black men, women, and children in our nation who  are either battered and bruised (Rodney King, Dajerria Becton, James Blake) or violently killed (Emmett Till, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott Freddie Gray, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel L. Simmons, and Depayne Middleton Doctor, Sandra Bland, Kindra Darnell Chapman and unfortunately so many others). The only factor that united all of these was their blackness which continually reminded those in power of our nation’s dark history. Our mere, enduring existence as black people is a prophetic voice against the ways in which we have been exploited and marginalized for profit. And when empire has had all it can take – as in the case of the two witnesses in Revelation – it retaliates. Brutally. The death of so many black prophets have spilled on the ground, remaining, rotting, voiceless and alone because we dared to wake up and walk out into the world, challenging white supremacy with every single breath we take. Our blackness – whether we bear the right name, look a certain way, or have Ph.D behind our name – is a continual prophetic witness against empire and capitalism.

This is a hard truth to bear! However, the more that we come to understand that our blackness is under siege because of the shame that those who are complicit in our oppression harbor, the more we can stop beating up on each other. At last, we could put respectability politics to rest. And perhaps, we could even stop talking about black on black violence. Because the truth of the matter is, we could be as saintly as Mother Theresa, or as far gone as Judas Iscariot and it will not matter because as long as we embody blackness, our bodies will speak out against injustice.

In order to move forward, empire must enter into the sacred process of repentance, confession, and healing. It must recognize the ways in which the ideology of white supremacy has corrupted the hearts of so many people in this nation and has also disregarded the image of God present in every person. This is where the deepest work must take place!

And the emphasis on undoing white supremacist ideology cannot be overstated. For far too long, empire has put the onus on black people to improve and move beyond our position as if we were culpable for our own chains. But we are not! We did not do this to ourselves but rather it is this nation who in the words of James Baldwin has ‘robbed black people of their liberty and who have profited by this theft every hour they have lived.’ No matter the heights black people climb, until our nation shakes loose the shackles of the wretched ideology that has governed the people for centuries, not only is change impossible but so is the liberation of black people. Our bodies will continue to live in protest.

*Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a conference that was being hosted at my church, Identity, Theology, and Place: Re-inhabiting the Mississippi Watershed. During the first plenary session on Saturday morning, activist and theologian Ched Meyers made mention of the passage in Revelation and connected it to the murder and desecration of Mike Brown’s body which inspired this post.

The Role of Law, Science, and Religion in Both Perpetuating and Overturning Racism

Victory-GrillEvery day, it seems, I bear witness to the reality that rights to humanity are not afforded to everyone in this country. Every day as I face the world, I see life being snatched away from men, women, and children simply because they are black. This fate is no respecter of persons in that it does not matter how wealthy, how poor, how saved, how pagan, how educated, how uninformed one is – so long as you are black in this country, you run the risk of being accosted and harassed by the police or shot by unsuspecting terrorists in your own house of worship.

This is the point that I really wanted to establish in my last piece, “Opportunity Gap? The Only Opportunity We Lack is an Opportunity to Live.” So often I find that in conversations about racial justice, the discussion focuses on improving economic opportunity for black people. Don’t get me wrong, this is important! We need access to jobs, housing, education and so much more. However, the crux of this issue is not that we lack these things; the problem is that we lack the opportunity to fully live. In fact, it is because we do not have complete and total access to life that we sometimes lack the financial wherewithal to live well.

How do we undo this? Is it even possible to turn back the clocks of time and live as we did before blacks were taken hostage and brought to the American soil? Probably not, racism and slavery has left an indelible mark on each and every one of our souls – black and white alike – so that it very much defines and characterizes who were are as Americans. But, I believe that we can be healed so that our collective humanity as Americans is restored.

Our healing won’t come easy, true transformation never does. It will take us, all of us, looking deeply at the situation before us and accessing the damage that has been done. We must consider how we got here, what were the layers that went into crafting this false narrative of racial superiority and inferiority? As I previously indicated, the perfect combination of laws, science, and religion, were instrumental in creating the current conditions. If these things were what led to our current reality, they must also be faced in order to secure a future where blacks are fully embraced and humanized.

Let us first address the things that need to shift in laws and policies. Before doing so, it would be helpful to understand that laws are not moral documents but documents that limit and control the behavior of a particular group or people. I make this case in a recent blog post, the Irrational Politics of Law, drawing from the stories of Daniel and Mordecai in the Old Testament to explain how law can be used intentionally and unintentionally to discriminate against people:

In Daniel and Mordecai, we see how the law can be used to inhibit a people whose existence threatens the state. The law, in instances as such, is nothing more than a tool to ensure that the interests of the powerful remain intact. The law, therefore, is not a just, moral document. Instead, it can be a representation of pure evil, something to be fought against rather than obeyed.

As police brutality, mass incarceration, and racial profiling continue to rob our communities of our black men, women, and children, for wearing hoodies, asking for help, running away when sensing danger, selling cigarettes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, fighting for one’s rights, it is clear that the laws of the land are designed similarly to the ones of the Persian empire. The laws that are being erected are there, not to ensure moral behavior, but to severely inhibit black people so that we are either behind bars, dead, or so extremely poor and disillusioned that our existence does not disrupt the power structure of the state.

In America, laws have often been used to limit the ability of black Americans from moving and existing freely in the American society. The War on Drugs was one law which unjustly profiled, arrested, and sometimes killed black people for possessing small amounts of illegal substances. And in the most extreme, desperate cases, drugs were planted on people so that there would be an excuse to profile, harass and arrest. Yet the war was announced prior to there actually being a presence of these drugs in society. The plan was clear: cripple the vitality of the black community, restrict our movement, and silence our leaders. Time would fail me if I began to unravel the immediate and lasting effects of this war. What I will say is that living through the crack years of the 1990s was absolute hell. Laws like this do not need to be reformed but revoked all together in order to grant freedom and access to black Americans (and no, legalizing marijuana is not the answer here. Opportunists!).

Public policy, when designed and implemented with race in mind, can be a great tool in addressing the inequities that our unjust laws have produced. This is what much of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s aimed to do. Had this legislation been able to operate as it intended and lift the burdens of black Americans, society would look much different than it does today. But the beast of racism wouldn’t let it. In the words of the illustrious Malcolm X, ‘Racism is like a cadillac, they bring out a new model every year.’ The American society needs to commit itself to stop inventing new, more insidious forms of racism and allow the public policies that can reduce racial inequities to work.

While the work of Carl Von Linneaus was foundational in making the case for a hierarchy of races among humans, any scientist worth their salt knows that this is simply not true. And Bill Nye is certainly worth a lot of salt. According to Nye, there is no scientific basis that supports race whatsoever. In fact, as Nye so eloquently puts it, all of humanity originates from the same place – East Africa. The differences among us can only be attributed to migration patterns and the effects of ultraviolet light on the skin.

PBS documentary, Race: the Power of An Illusion, supports Nye’s thesis. The documentary which draws on the expertise of researchers, scientists and more, also concludes that any genetic differences between us are not based on the color of one’s skin. “85 percent of all the variation among human beings is between any two individuals within a local population…any two individuals in any so-called race may be as different from each other from any individual in another so-called race.” To substantiate this claim, a group of students representing various cultural and racial categories, tested their DNA to see who they were most like and who they were most different from. Prior to receiving the results, the students assumed that they would be most like their peers who were from their same racial and cultural group. Yet they discovered that genetically speaking they were as similar to those within their racial group as they are to those without.

In spite of the work that has been done to prove that the idea of race is not supported by science, American society operates as if it holds true. It is so ingrained in this country’s ethos that scientific data alone cannot put an end to this myth that has endured for centuries. Late last year, I had a conversation with someone who wanted my opinion on research they were conducting about health outcomes and differences between people of color and whites. I spent at least ten agonizing minutes trying to explain that the differences had nothing to do with genetic makeup or biology because race is artificial. But he kept going there, so clueless to the fact that the differences in health outcomes had everything to do with racial disparities, environmental injustice, and concentrated poverty. When I concluded our conversation stating that his research was faulty and unscientific, he blew me off. Facts alone cannot change hearts and minds. But I know something that can.

As I mentioned above, religion – and specifically American Christianity – also played a role in sanctioning slavery and the perpetual dehumanization of black bodies. The same documentation that made it theologically permissible to exploit and colonize Native Americans supported slavery. While this has historically been the case in our country, I am also convinced that true Christianity that is not marked by white supremacy and colonialism has the capacity to change attitudes, substantiate scientific research and lift up good policy that ensures that blacks, along with every other disinvested group, are treated in an equitable and just manner. Essentially I believe that the Church, through Christ, is able to reaffirm the humanity of black Americans and say to a sadistic society that racism has to end. In an age of colorblindness and #BlackLivesMatter, this is what we desperately need. In my next piece, I will explain how. Hang around!

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The Importance of Worship in Times of Despair

Worship8This last year has left me weary. The constant news of violence against my people has been both overwhelming and discouraging, the latter because I honestly don’t know when relief will come. Our nation has built it’s wealth and prominence in the world by victimizing black and brown people – something that will not be easily overcome, though I remain hopeful as smaller scale victories are won through protest and policy change everyday! I know that our present suffering will not endure forever, mostly because empires, no matter how powerful last forever. And I also know that the fullness of the Kingdom of God, when He redeems those who have been oppressed, is coming! But when that all will be, I just don’t know.

As aforementioned, I remain hopeful. Hopeful that change will come. But it is not the kind of false optimism that believes everything will work itself out in the end – that we as a people will eventually progress to a more peaceful, harmonious state of being. I have no time for such nonsense! No, my hope is anchored in what I know Christ will do as a result of what He already did on the cross. His blood, shed for the sins of all of humanity – past, present, and future – reconciles us back to God, each other, as well as the earth and land around us. And reconciliation is inseparable from justice! God will bring about justice for those who have been chained and shackled by governments and systems of this world that exploit people for power and profit. And despite how much leaders in our nation clothe themselves in American Christianity, there will come a time when those who have been on the delivering end of injustice will be brought to account.

For me, hope goes hand in hand with despair. I despair and agonize over the current situation as I hope for a redeemed, victorious future. As Dr. Cornel West puts it in his book Hope on a Tightrope, “Those of us who truly hope, make despair a constant companion whom we outwrestle everyday owing to our commitment to justice, love, and hope. It is impossible to look honestly at our catastrophic conditions and not have some despair – it is a healthy sign of how deeply we care.”

Hope and despair! You can probably now understand why I’ve been so weary. Two seemingly conflicting dispositions that can either propel you forward or force you to turn inward and as an ambivert, I straddle both pretty well. Reach out or shut down. Engage or withdraw. Fight or retreat. Worship or not.

Ironically, its the worship piece that I have struggled with the most and which I have had energy for the least. And it is not because of disbelief or even discouragement, because remember I know that Jesus will transform this! It is because after expending myself in so many ways throughout the day to stand and fight for justice, at the end of the day I just want to tap out.

However, this is really where our quest for reconciliation and redemption must start! When we begin with worship, God Himself strengthens our hearts and minds when we have grown weary with despair. Additionally, magnifying God above and higher than structural racism and capitalism gives us the perspective and strategy that we need to prophetically counter injustice. When we see God clothed in all of His glory, empires start to look a little smaller.

So once again, I make a commitment to God, to myself, and to those around me to begin with worship. Worship because I have to if I want to ensure that despair doesn’t turn into despondency – hope deferred makes the heart go weak.’ Worship because I want God to take His place and restore everything that has been lost through conquest and war. Worship because the race for justice that we are running is a long distance marathon, not a sprint – I need endurance for the long haul!

Wisdom, Wealth and Eternity: Valuing What Truly Matters

s-RICH-PEOPLE-MEETING-largeI can probably count on one hand the number of sermons I have heard from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Many preachers, I suspect, do not find the book as relevant or God-inspired as the others because it reflects a time in King Solomon’s life – the accredited author of the book – when he was at his lowest. Though Solomon started off his reign having a close relationship with God, his wealth and fame caused his heart to turn away from the one whom he went out of his way to build a house of worship.

Solomon amassed great riches and power as a result of the wisdom that he possessed. He was a shrewd king who worked his people crazily – so much so that when he died, the people requested that his son Rehoboam ease up on the workload that was put in place by his father! But he also made many strategic political alliances with foreign nations through marriage – the Bible states that he had at least 700 wives and 300 concubines representing various nations and people groups. As a result of his craftiness, he is known as being one of the richest people in the world. Says 2 Kings:

“Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold in tribute annually. This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and assorted kings and governors.

King Solomon crafted two hundred body-length shields of hammered gold—seven and a half pounds of gold to each shield—and three hundred smaller shields about half that size. He stored the shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.

The king built a massive throne of ivory accented with a veneer of gold. The throne had six steps leading up to it, its back shaped like an arch. The armrests on each side were flanked by lions. Lions, twelve of them, were placed at either end of the six steps. There was no throne like it in any of the surrounding kingdoms.

King Solomon’s chalices and tankards were made of gold and all the dinnerware and serving utensils in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold—nothing was made of silver; silver was considered common and cheap.

The king had a fleet of ocean-going ships at sea with Hiram’s ships. Every three years the fleet would bring in a cargo of gold, silver, and ivory, and apes and peacocks (2 Kings 10.14-22, the Message).”

There was nothing that the King could not afford! Everything and anything he wanted he had unlimited access to. For all intents and purposes, he should have been a very content and happy man. Yet, Ecclesiastes tells us what 2 Kings does not and allows us to get a sneak peak into Solomon’s heart as he evaluates all of his wealth:

“I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2.1 – 11, NASB).”

Meaningless. This is what Solomon concludes of the wealth, of the stuff that he has accumulated in life. Not only is the wealth meaningless; the striving that Solomon put forth to get that wealth was also pointless – no doubt something that probably cost the most vulnerable in his society the most! But why, after living a lifetime in fortune and fame did Solomon draw this conclusion? Because as he neared the end of his days, he realized that: (1) wealth was unable to deliver on the promise of happiness and (2) of all of the possessions he gained, none of them could be taken into eternity with him.

While Solomon may not be in the same place spiritually as he was when he first started his reign, the wisdom and insight that he possesses should not be negated. In fact, the analysis that he provides of his experience deserves much more attention than what most preachers and religious scholars typically provide. Perhaps if we heed Solomon’s advice, we could put forth a better theology that will also have implications on the way that we order society!

We live in a culture, in a nation that places a high priority on the bottom line. Like Solomon, we are willing to do anything and everything to be wealthy, even if it costs others. Indeed, built into our nation’s very economic structure is the oppression of Native Americans and African Americans – it is the land and labor of each that has made this country the fiscal powerhouse that it is. With increased globalization, however, our country is adamant about staying on top and so, we turn corporations into people so that they can continue making big profits, we ramp our already unjust international trade policies, and we continue to police people of color for the most ridiculous things including spitting, lurking, and consuming alcohol in public making them pay for simply being black and brown.

American theology, unfortunately, supports many if not all of these things. Our theology reflects an orientation towards blessing and prosperity and leaves little room for evaluating just how that prosperity is secured. In fact, in many Christian circles, people believe that material blessing is the mark of God’s approval on one’s life. Never for a moment do we ever stop to consider Solomon’s words, let alone any other biblical writer as it pertains to wealth and material possessions. Remember, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned to follow after Him and He met that quite literally!

Meaningless. Wealth is utter meaninglessness. Oppressing people in order to get it is pointless, hoarding it is stranger still. But then what in life actually, truly matters?

Solomon provides us with perspective once again. He advises us to live simply – eat, drink and enjoy our labor! To me, Solomon’s sage advice means that there is value in providing for the needs of self, family and the community. Working so that you can provide clothing, shelter, food and transportation for your loved ones makes sense and is even spiritual stuff. However, building bigger and better simply for the sake of having more not only is meaningless but it robs other people of their capacity to provide for their basic necessities. Contrary to popular thinking, it is not about narrowing the gap between the winners and the losers; it is about eliminating that gap altogether.

But Solomon also encourages us to set our minds on eternal things, which means that whatever lapse he has taken spiritually has not altered his ability to see the big picture. God matters and spending eternity with him is pretty important stuff. Anything that detracts from that, including wealth, is simply not worth pursuing.

Telling the Truth About Injustice

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD, be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalms 27.13, 14 NASB).truthtell2

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I loathed history classes when I was a kid. I mean, I absolutely HATED it! I am not sure if it had to do with all of the definitions and time periods that we were required to remember or if it was something else entirely. All I know is that I couldn’t stand it. To this date, I remember very little of what was taught over all of those years and as a result, my grasp of world events is pitiful if not downright shameful.

As an adult, with a strong passion for justice and reconciliation, I find myself playing serious catch-up. In the last few years, I have spent countless hours pouring over books, watching documentaries, reading articles and doing so much more to make up for lost ground. Fortunately for me, this time around I am actually interested especially since I see so much alignment between the things that happened in the past and the things that are happening today. Unfortunately, however, many people do not see how these dots connect.

As the current events in our nation reminds us of the sins of our past, many people cannot see the connections between what is happening in Ferguson and the perpetual, systematic dehumanization of black lives. This dehumanization started with slavery, of course, but expanded to the institutionalization of the police force, the convict leasing system, Jim Crow, segregation, systematic exclusion from opportunity, the war on poverty, the war on drugs, mass incarceration and present day police brutality – all of which revolved around generating local municipalities, states and the country itself, a large profit. But when you present some people, mostly white, with these very relevant facts, they respond by either denying that this history ever happened or blame black people for our own oppression suggesting that if we were absolute angels, these things wouldn’t happen.

This outright denial of our past exists because the truth contradicts the story that America tells about itself – a story that it so desperately wants to believe is true. America wants to believe that it is a Judeo-Christian nation. America wants to believe that its success has come as a result of hard work, persistence and blessings from above. America wants to believe that it is a moral beacon around the world. But when you look at all that has transpired on this soil, you start to understand that none of this is remotely true. For people who have spent their entire lives creating, rehearsing and projecting this narrative of American exceptionalism, a crisis of identity ensues.

In truth, America in this moment IS experiencing a significant identity crisis because it has never come to grips with its deep, dark past. There have been no reparations or redistribution of ill-gotten wealth to atone for the sins of theft, conquest and war. There has been no truth and reconciliation commission to give those who have done the stealing, conquesting, and warring an opportunity to confess their sins and be restored to the human family. Indeed, on the rare occasion that these things get meaningfully discussed is when Ferguson happens. And by then, it is often too late.

The only way we can stop the hemorrhaging is by telling ourselves the truth about ourselves. We have to be upfront and honest about our history, something that I have reiterated here, here, here, and here. We have to be explicit and name the way in which that history continues to impact our present and will inevitably affect our future unless we do something about it.

Not only do we have to tell the truth about the persistent and present injustice, we have to tell the truth about what is possible. It is possible for us not to live in a country, in a world even, where the current dynamics are not our reality. Like the psalmist referenced at the beginning of this post, we have to imagine the good that we can see in the land of the living. For me, goodness means that human relationships are restored. Relationships that have been fractured as a result of fear, mistrust, and competition for resources are made whole again. It also means that all people can breathe and no one is denied that God-given right simply because of the color of their skin. Goodness tastes like justice, meaning that there is restitution to those who been exploited and it smells like forgiveness so that those who have been wronged offer it to others.

As we truthfully remember our history, let us creatively and prophetically think about the future that we want to live in. Let us think big and stretch our imaginations wide and not limit our thinking to what we believe is reality. We must remember that the reality we face right now was at one time only an imagination – someone imagined that they could create an economic system based on the labor and land of others – and that imagination became a reality because it was first a vision. Let us do the same with racial justice – let us imagine a future where racism is not the default way of being in this country. Let us dream of a future, where police brutality is not a problem because the police do not exist. Let us envision a tomorrow where black men are no longer perceived as threats, and where black girls are not being suspended and arrested in schools for doing NOTHING wrong. With our mouths, let us boldly proclaim a reality where we are no longer driven by the bottom line but by humankind. With that vision ahead of and leading us, by the grace of God, we will get there.