Trayvon Martin: I am still a Black Man
I can forget what it means to be Black and male. I can forget that it is dangerous to go out in my hoodie, walk around in a “good” neighborhood, or hurriedly carry my wife’s forgotten purse down the street. However, this year I remembered that my country’s ethos still fears black men.
The acquittal of Zimmerman highlighted the fallacy of post-racialism and the legacy of prejudice and stereotype. Zimmerman was legally argued to have acted in self-defense and Trayvon was caricatured as a ghetto gangster – further endangering young, male blackness. Similarly, Jonathan Ferrell, was shot down (10 times) by the police because a fearful woman assumed he was criminal when was seeking help after a car accident. Again prejudice pervades.
I am the equality-justifying Black friend to my co-workers and congregation members who makes them feel comfortable about their “colorblindness” AND I am the unnamed scary Black guy standing on the corner that causes suspension and reveals their racial prejudice… I am a Black man – Joshua Canada
Newtown Shooting: 20 first graders, 6 teachers, and overwhelming populace support aren’t enough to change American gun laws
In 9th grade Science class our lesson abruptly stopped as we turned on the TV to watch bloody and crying students own age get wheeled out of Columbine High school and into ambulances, And for a decade now I have watched it happen over and over. And I thought The Newtown Massacre would be the final straw. With Obama’s full support, full media blitz, and even after 6 months approval ratings remained at 70% for expanded background checks and 60% for stricter regulations on assault rifles…conditions seemed to be at a breaking point.
But in 2013 I learned it takes more than this to change our current gun laws. What more?
I don’t think anyone really knows, but I’m afraid to find out. – Nathan Roberts
Church Ministry: We Can’t Dream for Others
I am a visionary and a born fixer…I see a person’s potential and I can imagine all sorts of possibilities for them. This often gets me into trouble. While it is a great pastoral skill to have, being an encouraging spirit and motivating people sometimes isn’t enough. This year has taught me that we can participate in another person’s happiness and success but that we aren’t responsible for those things coming to fruition. We can believe with our whole hearts that something is possible, but we must also believe in the process of discipline and structure that makes dreams come true. Success isn’t happenstance, nor is it accomplished by wishful thinking. For all the winners in the world, and the successful people, dreaming, good ol’ fashion hard work, perseverance, faith, and creativity will go a LONG ways! – Lawrence Richardson
Nelson Mandela: A Great Country is like a Quilt
Quilts unite different colors, shapes, and styles to make something both aesthetically beautiful and functional. And Nelson Mandela’s leadership made South Africa into a Quilted Nation. But Nelson Mandela was a controversial figure in my home country of Kenya. Kenya expelled the British Colonialists in 1963 and the black Kenyans were shocked that Mandela allowed his oppressors to remain. Black Kenyans of all tribes banded together to defeat their foreign occupiers. But after independence our politicians resorted to tribal infighting and our nation disintegrated into a fractured state.
But I believe it could have been different. I echo Mandela’s belief that a nation is stronger when people work together, blacks and whites, rich and poor. Not that things always go smoothly. Whites and Blacks are certainly not on equal footing in South Africa, but they are on their way. Moving forward together. As we say in Kenya kidogo kidogo…slowly by slowly – Michael Kimpur
24 Hour News Cycle: I know, I know we hear it every year — but seriously: the Revolution will not be televised.
Despite the fact that the major global headline from here in Colombia this year was Peace Talks between the national government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), there was a larger, more poignant grassroots movement afoot. Starting in August and lasting more than eight weeks, over 200,000 people took to the streets blocking major trade routes throughout the country demanding that the voice of the people — farmers, miners, truck drivers, union workers and students — be heard and prioritized over foreign multinational investment. Decades of economic, political and social abandonment have left the people little choice; though the government, military, police and business sectors remain well represented in major national decision making (e.g. Peace Talks), civil society has been hung out to dry … but don’t count on CNN to report it. – Brit Hanson
The Arab Spring: Love the One You’re With
2011 saw a series of uprisings, rebellions and revolutions across the Middle East that came to be known as the Arab Spring. So as we move into 2014 what has been the effect of three years of democracy? Well, Tunisia is currently under care-takership due to the failure of the first democratically elected government and still struggles with extreme Islamist groups. Egypt is now back under military rulership, who have declared the Muslim brotherhood, the first elected government since the overthrow of Mubarak, a terrorist organisation. Libya is torn by armed militia groups formed in the power vacuum left by Qaddafi and the parliamentary elections scheduled for this year never occurred. Syria is pretty much a failed state at this point. And nobody has heard from the Occupy movement in well over a year.
This all begs the question: Better the devil you know? – Simon Reading