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31 March 2012

Outrage Is Not Enough

The outrage is real. It transcends race and class. And it is not enough.
Outrage over the stolen life of one precious child is not enough.
Protests are important, meaningful and necessary. And they are not enough.
Deep conversations and thoughtful analysis are mandatory and essential. And they are not enough.
All of it is important and none of it is enough.
Individual awakenings here and there - if they are occurring and I am not certain that they are - are not enough to change systems, structures, institutions, society and its policies. None of it is enough.
And there are far too many who don't want to change a thing, do a thing, not a single thing, differently. The status quo, is all right with them, justified:
He was suspended from school, he had marijuana, he fought, he wore a hoodie, he was there - in a gated community, he was black. Outrage is not enough.

26 March 2012


I am simply exhausted. I realize I have no idea how to carry my sabbatical into my working life. The refreshment I gain from my Lenten sabbath practice fades like morning mist. Even with the prospect of a full night's sleep ahead of me, I am exhausted by the thought of what lies ahead tomorrow and the next day.

18 March 2012

Black People Are Dangerous

We are so dangerous that simply stating you are in fear of us grants you license to kill us, even if we're unarmed, even when we're children, even when the police have told you to stay in your car and you disobey them, chase us down and shoot and kill us, you will not be arrested. George Zimmerman's murder of Trayvon Martin was not the first time a black person was killed by a white person whose defense was I was afraid of her/him/them because they are black.

16 March 2012


Trusting God.
Listening for God.
Listening to God.
Trusting others.
Listening with me.
Listening for me.
Listening to me.
Fear and trembling.
Speak Majesty, your servant is listening.

06 March 2012

Black and Beautiful and Sunburned

"Can you tan?"
"Do you burn?"
Assumptions about the normatively and inherent value of whiteness - "fair" being light and attractive - are imposed on me as a black woman every day, living in a white supremacist society. I am regularly asked to give an account of my presumptively alternate biology, imagined to be fundamentally different from the interrogator's own normative experience of being human.

"Can you tan?"
"Do you burn?"
I am expected to answer when questioned. To explain myself and my race. Public access to my body is unquestioned.
And deeply entangled with the notion of otherness is the notion of beauty. 
How can something, let alone someone, be black and beautiful?
So never mind that Song of Solomon 1:5 has a simple conjunction, black am I and beautiful, (and emphasizes her blackness by opening with it), a myriad of bible translators continuing into modernity persist with "I am black/dark but beautiful/comely/lovely." Blackness and beauty cannot occupy the same space in the imaginations so they cannot occupy the same space in their translations, no matter what the text actually says.
Some say, they "get" that, but (negate that "getting" with their next comment) doesn't verse 6 say that she is sunburned, therefore, she can't be black - that's what the notes in my study bible say...
As though being black and sunburned were impossible, as impossible as being black and beautiful.
If the text had not said that the woman was as black as the tents of Qedar - as black as the black goats' hair tents woven from the famed goats of Qedar renowned for their beautiful black coats in antiquity, but instead was as white as a lily and that the sun had "gazed" on her, white (and other readers) would have no problem imagining that her lily-white complexion was damaged by the sun, along with all of the class implications associated with laboring outdoors. 
But the antithetical constructions of blackness and beauty, blackness and normatively, even blackness and sunburn mean that far too many readers cannot hear that the woman in the text ruined her beautiful black Qedari completion with a sunburn, in spite of what the text says.
Yes, I am black! and radiant - 
O city women watching me - 
As black as Kedar's goat hair tents 
Or Solomon's fine tapestries. 

Will you disrobe me with your stares? 
The eyes of many morning suns 
Have pierced my skin, and now I shine 
Black as the light before the dawn.
 Rabbi Marcia Falk, 
The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible

Whiteness and assumptions about whiteness permeate nearly all things in our society like an anti-light obscuring non-Eurocentric realities.

03 March 2012

Having a Holy Lent: Reboot

I have failed at Lent again.
I am failing.
I am/not a failure.
Starting over.
What will make me whole, holier?
That is what I shall do.
Having a holy Lent.
Starting over.

02 March 2012

Prayers for Syria

My heart is breaking and I feel so powerless.
People are dying, violent painful deaths,
watching their children die suddenly
or starve slowly.
O God! Help! Save! Deliver!
Change the hearts, mind and behavior
of the violent and the vicious.
Spur those who have influence into action.
Blanket the world with your peace.
Please God. Soon.