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Thank you, Sally Field

It began with a lie -- a greed-inspired lie spoken more than 400 years ago and nurtured to thrive like kudzu. As a result of this intentional falsehood, my ancestors experienced ineffable horrors as their humanity was brutally denied for the creation of the wealth of others. That is a lot to process. It beckons to be repeated.  Because of a lie, the humanity of my African ancestors was brutally denied for the creation of the the wealth of others. 
In the corrupt creation of this capital, laws, policies, and practices were designed intentionally to protect the expanding lies and the wealth by further denying that people were people.  It was an extreme case of profits over humanity. Four centuries later, the results of this contrived reality continue to bear fruit as evidenced in a seemingly endless list of contemporary disparities. 
The arts possess a unique capacity to speak to reality and thereby shape our consciousness in unexpected ways. The commonplace becomes striking as it touches…
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My Anger

Anger drains me -- emotionally and physically. It is an act of violence against myself and I try not to experience it intensely for this reason. The celebration or glorification of the culture of violence angers me especially when it is done by a person who has been given authority. A priest in my archdiocese posting a photo on social media of himself holding an automatic firearm, a weapon of war, while wearing his clerical collar angers me greatly.
As a Black woman in a southern state, I am aware of the use of law and order rhetoric as a racist trope as is the priest's expressed intention of "protecting my people and property."  We also live in a period when stand your ground laws are used to justify murder. Sadly, I remember the murder of a child, Tamir Rice, who was killed because he was a Black boy playing with a toy gun. 
There are many people who respect firearms and use them for hunting and sport. They understand and respect the deadly force at their fingertip. Grow…

American Vias Dolorosa

The liturgical calendar of my Catholic tradition accompanies us through our lives in the ordinary times as well as in periods and on days of significance. During the solemn and holy days of Lent and the Triduum, respectively, we reenact the via dolorosa in the Stations of the Cross. Regardless of its size, the sanctuary of each Catholic parish will include a representation of the fourteen Stations. The prayerful process reflects on the sorrow and suffering of Jesus from his condemnation to death his death by capital punishment and burial in a tomb. His subsequent resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. 
While the Church's calendar reflects the highs and lows of ordinary life, our lived experience is not confined to this timeline. Experiences of suffering, death, and resurrection occur for each of us at varying times. The calendar may say that it is ordinary time, but as we accompany a loved one through the challenges of a terminal illness it is a period of sorrow. 
With this in…

The Legacy of Their Names

The soil of Turtle Island is forever drenched with the innocent blood  of its first inhabitants - men, women and children  who had their humanity denied.
In right relationship  with the Creator and creation, the First Nationswere considered obstacles to your insatiable greed.
The God you trusted to bring you safely across the Atlantic was too small for this new life.
Putting aside  loving your neighbor as yourself, you chose to worship at the tarnished altar of the golden calf.
A bounty of unfamiliar  natural resources  were no more than tools  for personal wealth as you coveted ownership instead of stewardship.
Walking this land  from time immemorial, you found their presence to warrant a litany of broken promises, infected blankets, and genocide.
In spite of you, some survived only  to be denied access  to their ancestral lands before being forced to walk the Trail of Tears - their own via dolorosa.
We hear echoes of their presence here in their descendants and in the legacy of their names.
Alabama, Algonquin, Apache, Apalachee,…

Broadening Perspectives

The recent extra-judicial killing of George Floyd and others is causing many Americans to question the various forms of racial bias in our society. While those from the First Nations and of African descent along with other people of color have lived experience of this violence and its embodied trauma. Seeing Floyd murdered from the comfort of their homes seems to have pushed many who identify as white to cross the threshold. For them, denying the existence of racial injustice in 2020 is no longer an option.
As perspectives are broadened, questions arise. It as though a bright light bulb has been switched on in a dank cellar providing a stark view in direct conflict with the ideals the nation espouses. What is seen is the oppressive legacy of 400 years of white supremacy and its perpetuation in real time.
The arts are one way in which "heroes" are created and celebrated to shape the stories we know. The removal of statues and other artwork honoring men who contributed to the en…

Where Are You, Class of 1976?

I was one of more than 500 students to graduate from my hometown's public high school in 1976. There was a great energy in the air as our graduation year was the same as which our nation celebrated its bicentennial. A few years earlier, the historically Black high school named after George Washington Carver had been changed to a junior high school, and all high school students attended Dothan High School, or the town's segregation academy. 
In our short lifetimes we had been shaped by the racial trauma of being born into and living in the apartheid of both Alabama and the United States. What was known as the Civil Rights Movement began in the late 1940s and continued until 1968 with significant accomplishments, but incomplete. Would we, the youth of the 1960s and in particular the Class of 1976, grow to deny racism by accepting it, or would we recognize the injustice and challenge it?
Four years before our birth, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case of Brown vs. the…