Coolikan Podcast #1 – Racial Healing, Reconciliation and the Church

#TeamCoolikan

On August 7th, Coolikan member Acasia Olson boarded a train and set out on her 10-day cross-country campaign to promote racial healing and reconciliation in the U.S.  During her time on board, the nation experienced a flare up in race relations as Michael Brown, a young unnarmed African American male, was shot by a cop in Ferguson Missouri.  Acasia continued hosting conversations on race and racial healing with people across the nation in hopes of learning what we as a nation can do to heal and dismantle racism.

On this episode, we talk about race, reconciliation, the Church and the need for this nation to heal.  

The honest intersection of confronting an unjust society as a disciple of a loving and radical God:

“God, I don’t want to believe that you died for all these people who [stole, lynched, lied, shot and oppressed].  Just like you died for me you died for them, and I am struggle to accept the fact that you did…How do I learn to see them with the heart and love you have, because you died for them like you died for me…”

Honorable Mentions:

Pastor Matt Chandler Speaks Up White Privilege  – Article here

Advertisements

CHURCH SCARS: Bronze Jesus and the Racist Old White Lady

by Obehi Janice

Do you have “church scars”?

COOLIKANS believe that church scars are soul-deep incisions caused by man that separate us from the love of Christ and the grace of His gospel.

What is the church?

Who is the church?

Has the church ever hurt you?

Jacinta needed to be baptized by Father John but everyone was late.  As usual, our costumed party of Nigerian immigrants, kids, and community stumbled into the 9:15am mass with fanfare ten minutes too late. I knew that Father John was upset because of how slowly he delivered the rites.  He had started on time.  He spoke slowly the first half of service to accommodate the latecomers but his Gregorian pipes were tired. He was ready to dip a little Black girl’s head in Holy water.

I fidgeted in the seventh row, wearing a shin length flowery dress [with puffy shoulders the shape of mushroom clouds and a lining of taffeta that made my ass itch.] My long, relaxed hair laid down my back and I tried to hide under it. I, the eldest daughter at a mere eleven years old understood SHAME. Shame ate at my Nigerian insides, knowing that African time was not an excuse for being late to the baptismal of your youngest child. But I could feel Father John’s exasperated sighs grow.

Sigh. These people are always late.

Sigh. These people are really late.

St. Jeanne D’arc Church had a beautiful Bronze Jesus on the Cross that towered over Father John’s white and red robes. I don’t know if it was made out of bronze. I don’t know what the Catholic church can afford. But it shone like bronze. Bronze Jesus cried for our lateness and I could see His frustration and hear His sighs from the cross.

Where was my Father?

[That was me asking, not Jesus.]

My earthly Father that is.

He was the latest of us all.

It was embarrassing. I knew it was him the minute he walked in. He was rushing, but bumbling, and angry. Angry at whom? Himself? You wouldn’t have known it was a self-loathing from the way he was searching the congregation out for a face to challenge him.

SHAME.

My Father didn’t like going to this church. I don’t think he was ever baptized or anything. Then again, I never asked. We never talked about his faith.

My Father sat down in the sixth pew in front of me. He didn’t have time to acknowledge me or my mother. SHAME plumped him down feet away from his youngest daughter and her religious saving.

“This BLACK man is sitting too close to me,” an old white woman tried to whisper to her friend but her pipes were clearly strong. The entire congregation witnessed the failure of a loving God embodied in this racist old white lady.

My Father immediately knew that he was the Black man she was referring to.

In an instant, he was transformed from a Nigerian immigrant into a BLACK MAN. A FEARED THING. And we, his three older children, and his wife became his reflection. Our native costumes with its colors and shapes faded into the wash of Catholic mosaic. We were singled out for being foreign, even though we belong here just like anyone else belonged here, you know? We lived in a townhouse that my Father bought a couple of feet from the church. We were community folk technically with our red townhouse and five minute walk to church but in this moment this waning old white woman with her trembling hands didn’t want us here.

“This BLACK man is sitting too close to me.”

Bronze Jesus just wanted to observe Baby Jacinta’s baptism but the devil simply wasn’t having it. My Father didn’t take the remark lightly. He matched her fear with his fear and retaliated with his verbal strength: “I am here for my daughter. You can’t tell me where to sit or not sit. Do you know why I’m here? I will sit wherever I want!”

Silence was a friend for a good five seconds. Until Father John broke the space with the reality of why we were all here:

“Victor, can you join Rosemary and the Godparents for the baptism ceremony?”

My Father left his pew, neither defeated or victorious. Just bare. Bare naked walking to the altar. And Bronze Jesus wept for our shame.

And so began my utter dislike of the Catholic Church.

Value and Worth: Hip-Hop, Trayvon Martin, and a Message to the Black Boys of America

by Elise Lockamy

4011283_orig

“Canaan, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Without hesitation, he stood up gleefully and shouted, “I am going to be President of the United States!”

In this post-acquittal era of the George Zimmerman trial and the wrongful death of our martyred son Trayvon Martin, I’d be just as delighted if my elementary school-aged cousin had said, “Alive.  I want to be alive.”

Here’s what I can’t swallow, or seem to be able to have non-Black peers acknowledge, and that’s that if Trayvon was White, he would be alive today.  Zimmerman found him suspicious because he was a young Black male walking around the neighborhood, fitting the same profile of a former neighborhood burglar.  That other guy – Black. Trayvon – Black. Trayvon – dead. Killer – free.  I weep.

Trayvon’s unidentified body lay in a morgue for hours.  He was just another one of “them”.  Another Black male profiled and deemed unworthy of life.  I weep.

Trayvon Benjamin Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012.

I maintain that he died on February 5, 1995, the day of his birth, the day he was born a Black Boy in America.
_____________________

I sat in the congregation, afro in full force, as the Black missionary from Cameroon relayed all the wonderful things the church was up to.  There were healings and trips to heaven.   Ministry students were powerfully walking in their spiritual gifts.  The school was becoming the equipping ground for nation-changers.  The missionary acknowledged the congregants who monetarily supported the ministry and thanked the rest of us for our spiritual support.  She told anecdotes of her cultural re-adaptations to the United States.  She went on to mention that she was appalled by the music and television shows she saw on VH1. And then my sister, this sister with beautiful dreadlocked hair who had captured the ears of the mostly White congregation said, “Hip-Hop is killing this generation.”   I cringed as most in the audience nodded and clapped in agreement.  I still cringe.

Art, in its unmodified form, is an outward expression of the meditations of the inner-man.  Worshippers know that when Kim Walker-Smith or Richard Smallwood begin to use their instruments (vocal and otherwise) to exact adoration to the Father that it’s coming from a rich soul, and anointed with the Father’s presence that’s able to transcend time, space, and mode of hearing.  See it’s coming from the spirit.  When I listen to Hip-Hop, sometimes filled with meditations of bigotry, sexism, self-hatred, pain of the fatherless, and a dearth of hope, I know it’s coming from a broken spirit, a lost inner-man.

Hip-Hop is not killing this generation.  A lack of identity, value, and self-worth, rooted in the Father, is killing this generation.  We #Coolikans like to say that somebody lied to us.  Well somebody not only lied to our brothers, he or she stopped speaking to them altogether.

Ponder this – if people only paid attention to you when you achieved on the basketball court or the football field (and pushed your body to its physical limits in the process), wouldn’t you too only see value in another’s body?  I am not surprised that many songs feature the sexualized female form.

Ponder this – if the only opportunity you had to engage society’s influencers occurred when you had as much money as they did, wouldn’t you too want to equate your worth with your earnings and flaunt what you have? I am not surprised at the stronghold of materialism that is heard throughout popular music today.

Ponder this – if your father never came home and you never saw an engagement of fraternal love (between him and his intimate circle), wouldn’t it also be easy for you to slander a brother in a song?  I see how easy it is for some songs to drudge up imagery of murdering another person.

I have to ask – what have we (women, fathers, the education system, the jails, the ghettos, society-at-large, and dare I say the church) been telling our Black boys about themselves that drives them to the continued oppression of themselves and those around them?

Hip-Hop is not killing this generation.
___________________________

A couple days after the verdict was announced, a radio personality challenged listeners to call in and share what they will now tell their sons as a result of the tragic death of a beloved son and the acquittal of his killer.

A fierce mother called in.  She was angry. She was hurting.  She told that she will now tell her son that he is a member of an endangered species with a target on his back, viewed as a threat by all who manage or bother to see him.

I want to tell our fathers, sons, uncles, brothers, and cousins something else.2115162_orig

You don’t wear a target.  You wear a crown.  The Father says that you are kings.  Don’t look in the mirror and see a reflection of a workhorse, a mere athlete or entertainer, or a slave.  See a reflection of a Son of God, worthy of the calling of leader and lover.  For generations, your power, gifts, and talents have been feared.  I do not fear you.  I celebrate you.  Deaden your ears to the evil whispers of those who envy you and want to see your demise.  Awaken to the promise of abundant living and the esteem of a Father who sees incredible value in you.  Charge into Fatherhood and take back your families.  Charge into the boardroom and rip the price tag off your back.  Take it all back and stand firm.  He, the glorious Father, is with you.  

The songs of life (not fear and death) that will be sung, once the truth about His sons is revealed and celebrated, will shake the Heavens and draw us so close to the presence of God that we’ll be able to smell his fragrance.  That’s where Trayvon is, in His presence.  That’s where we all belong.