#Bringing Heaven to Ferguson

By Elise Lockamy

Fellow Disciples of Christ –

Teenage girl praying outdoors at twilight. Shallow DOF.Whether or not you determine that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, you can still contribute to this historical moment. Whether or not you believe racism contributed to the shooting of Michael Brown, you can still contribute to this historical moment. Whether or not you believe that racial divide exists in the Body of Christ, you can still contribute to this historical moment. Whether or not you are a person of color, you can still contribute to this historical moment.

Raise your voices to heaven. Pray.

  1. Pray for peace and comfort for Michael Brown’s family and friends during this time of mourning. They will never enjoy his presence again. Pray that God will fill the loss in their hearts with His presence.
  2. Pray for protection for Officer Darren Wilson and his family.
  3. Pray for hope for a community (Ferguson, MO and surrounding townships) in pain. Pray that they pursue God’s truth concerning identity and love.
  4. Pray for racial healing and reconciliation in the United States of America. Whether we like it or not, seeds of separateness were sown in this land generations ago and we are reaping those soiled fruits. Pray that generational curses will be cut off.

After reading the reports of Michael Brown’s death, I had a vision. I saw young men standing at the Lord’s altar. Directly behind them were law enforcement officials. Each official had his hands placed on the shoulders of the young man in front of Him. I determined that it was time to pray. It’s time to pray for protection for our law enforcement officials. It’s time to pray that deception will no longer blind their eyes. It’s time to pray that they will pursue justice, with integrity – always. It’s time to pray that our young men will no longer feel like targets. It’s time to pray that they will surrender all their burdens to Christ – always. It’s time to pray for strengthening. It’s time to pray for more fathers – natural and spiritual.

Get ready, get ready, get ready.  A change is coming.  On earth as it is in Heaven…

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For more on racial healing and reconciliation, visit #Coolikan Acasia Olson’s website embracehealing.org.

For #Coolikan Elise Lockamy’s more militant take on race and the shooting deaths of God’s sons, visit Value and Worth: Hip-Hop, Trayvon Martin, and a Message to the Black Boys of America.

Coolikan Podcast #2: Intimate Partner Violence, the NFL and the Church

In February, Baltimore Raven’s star running back Ray Rice punched his then fiancé, Janay,  in an Atlantic City hotel elevator knocking her unconscious.  Seven months later on September 8th, after TMZ released footage of the attack in the elevator,  the Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract (source). This is not the first incident of domestic violence in the NFL or any other sports league.

“From 1989 to 1994 alone, 140 current and former professional or college football players were reported to police for violent acts against women, the Washington Postreported in 1994.” (source)

In fact, the following is a link to an article, which breaks down the rate and history of NFL arrests (by type) since 2000 – NFL Arrest Rates: LINK

On this post, we  discuss Ray Rice’s suspension, the NFL culture and intimate partner violence.

*Honorable Mentions*

Prince Ea: “How never to FAIL at anything EVER again”: LINK

Prince Ea: “Why I think this world should end”: LINK 

20 Standout Groups Stopping Domestic Violence: LINK

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin

Clutch Magazine Article on Womanism: LINK 

*editors note (correction): Ray Rice said alcohol triggered his reaction and he turns into a different person.  But he didn’t say he was an alcoholic

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

That God Doesn’t Exist

by Elise Lockamy

God “is somewhere around,” she says.  “We just can’t find him.”

I knew He was coming.  In this New York Times series featuring the life and times of a homeless child in the City, I knew God was going to show up.

In the piece, readers learn that Dasani is the oldest of eight, with an acute awareness of her social status and family role.  She is intelligent – and not just streetwise; she’s academically gifted too.  She wears responsibility as a chosen chip on her shoulder, bearing through it by fighting those around her when the weight becomes too heavy.  Her mother and stepfather are (recovering) addicts. They have some income but are unable to manage it.  Their lives, it seems, depict ebbs and flows of favor – as when Dasani’s mom inherited $49,000 after her own mother’s death – and despair – as when Dasani’s stepfather’s tax refund is garnished to pay back child support.  The family has been living in deplorable conditions in the Auburn shelter in Brooklyn for close to three years.

As the polished writer details the individual and socio-political dimensions of Dasani’s life and homelessness in New York City, I see something.  I see that there is no mention of the family’s faith life, or religion. Why should there be?  In a life described as this one, how could faith or God possibly exist?

I read on, past the “we just can’t find Him” quote, and find myself enamored by the descriptions of Brooklyn life. The mention of Brownsville takes me back to my childhood.  I remember corner stores and train rides.  Gypsy cabs and dollar vans.  Kings Plaza and 99 cent stores.  Mr. Frosty and open fire hydrants.  After school pit stops at the nearby Chinese restaurant for chicken wings and French fries, and maybe some apple sticks.  I remember walks in Prospect Park, and bike rides up and down Bergen Street.  I remember all our neighbors, the village that raised both me and my dad.  I remember the building down the street my cousin and I were told to stay out of.  The empty lots we were told not to walk by.  I even remember the stray bullet that killed Mr. Mike, the neighborhood handy man.

And I remember the moment, years later, when it finally hit me that God had given my parents a dream, a vision, and had lifted me out of something.  I had already matriculated from Milton Academy and Georgetown University and was riding the bus to my (seemingly) dilapidated graduate school apartment.  There were “Teach for America” posters lining the advertising space. I read something to the effect of – “Only 1 in 10 students from low-income neighborhoods graduate from college”.  That’s me, Lord!  That’s me!  And then – why me, Lord?  Why me?

Elise (left) with peers, Milton Academy graduation, June 2005

Elise (left) with peers, Milton Academy graduation, June 2005

Elise (center) with sisters, Georgetown University graduation, May 2009.

Elise (center) with sisters, Georgetown University graduation, May 2009.

“I don’t dream at all,” she says. “Even when I try.”

Dasani does not dream.  She only knows lack.  She only sees lack.  And there’s no one, not even a God, to correct her vision, to show her dreams, to show her faith, hope, and love.

Dasani is not so far removed from me.  Growing up, I am sure there were a few Dasani’s in my classrooms.  And that’s when the tangle begins.  Father, what you did for me, surely you can do for Dasani.  Surely.  Surely.  I can hardly imagine a God who neglects his little ones.  Hardly.  Hardly.  Because I sometimes do.  I think back to emotionally trying times in my life, and remember feeling all alone. God you are not here.  You’ve left us!  You’ve left me.  And there – in those moments – I am an orphan. Orphaned and foundation-less. Homeless.

I scour the Word for relief.  Not unlike the scouring Dasani’s parents resort to in the form of begging, stealing, and using.  I am led to Matthew 25, The Parable of the Talents.  Servant one is given 5 talents, servant two is given two, and servant three is given one – each servant receiving according to his abilities.  When the Master departs, servant one gleans five more talents, and servant two gleans two more.  Upon the Master’s return, they both present 10 and 4 talents back to him accordingly.  As a reward, he allows them to “enter into joy” and equips them to be in charge of even more.  But as for servant three, well he has nothing but the one talent to present back to his Master.  The Master inquires, “why didn’t you increase what I provided to you?”  The servant responds – “well, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man…”

Harsh and hard.  This harsh and hard God has abandoned Dasani and her family.  The harsh and hard God I know has turned his face from me many times and the past.  Why? Because a harsh and hard God does not exist.  He is not present because He is not real.

God is love.  Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13 remind me that love is patient and kind.  My God, the one I have come to call Lover, Savior, Redeemer, and Provider, is not harsh and hard.  He is the embodiment of all that is good.  With this in mind, I turn back to Dasani and her family. God is somewhere around.  The reality of their circumstances presses them to rely on a harsh and hard God image, because the loving God, the one their spirit knows and cries out to, wouldn’t leave them in this state.

The Master takes away the one talent from the third servant, relegates him to the “outer darkness”, and asks, “Did you really know me?”

If God is real, and is love, then Dasani would not face the life obstacles that she does.

No, see, when God is real, and is love [in our thinking, in our dreams, in our inner-being] then we face obstacles and triumph as overcomers in and through him.

At the end of the piece we learn that Dasani’s family has been relocated to an apartment in Harlem – one with bedrooms and a kitchen.  Dasani is now close to the park where she trains with an athletic team.  Dasani’s Brooklyn school – the one in which she grows close to an inspiring teacher, Ms. Hester – is making arrangements for Dasani, and two of her siblings, to remain enrolled there. They are working on bus pickup as to not exacerbate the children with an hour long commute each way.

At the end of the piece I see God, in all his loving kindness – in the teacher, the principal, the investigative reporter, and the supermarket patron who allows Dasani’s stepfather to fill up a cart with groceries that this Samaritan will pay for.  I see it.  I see Him. Maybe now, His omnipresence will begin to fill Dasani’s heart.  Maybe now, she will find Him.

#OneWord365: TRUST

by Obehi Janice

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Elise shared #OneWord365 with me just over a year ago in December 2012.

#OneWord365 asks you to choose one word in lieu of a tedious checklist of New Year’s Resolutions. They ask you to

1. pick a word

2. blog about it

3. and then join their community through Twitter, Facebook, and email and share life with others

For 2013, I chose the word MOVE because I wanted to travel independently and push through some hard-to-reach artistic goals. Here’s a general recap on how MOVE made an impact on my life.

I—

-moved to an awesome new (and affordable) apartment in Boston. My bedroom tripled in size and I lived with three new roommates who challenged my personality, brought me joy and laughter, and taught me how to thrive in the midst of adversity (can we say mice?)

-was invited to perform my solo play FUFU & OREOS in Chicago in February by MPAACT, a Black theater company. The trip was awesome (my first time in Chi-town) and I got to stay with my roommate’s parents for free (huge blessing!)

-took two road trips and attended some faith-based conferences

  • one to Philadelphia for the Justice Conference. I also made five new close friends from that trip. I also started developing my theology of justice with other believers (especially a lot of hippie Christians from Portland.)

  • one to Kansas City, Missouri with Elise. We attended the STAND CONFERENCE, a conference that focuses on what the Holy Spirit is saying about the prophetic destiny of the Black community. I experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence, God’s protection, and Christ’s guidance over my prayer life. I also got to hang out with my sister-in-Christ and blast Boyz II Men from Kansas City to Nashville to Atlanta.

-saved up money for a solo trip to Lagos, Nigeria in July where I hung out with my friend/filmmaker O.M. Ajayi and saw some of my family on my Mother’s side (all my family is in Nigeria)

-created and produced my first comedic rap video, BLACK GIRL YOGA

-started writing and submitting plays. They ended up in two festivals.

-founded COOLIKAN with Acasia and Elise!

-did something terrifying and started taking improv classes. I also perform long-form improv comedy in Cambridge

-traveled to the Berkshire Fringe Festival in August to perform FUFU & OREOS

-was accepted into a writers’ residency for female playwrights to develop FUFU & OREOS with a director and development team

-moved farther from home and lessened my visits to my mother. This has been the toughest transition but it’s made me and her stronger

-joined the prayer and intercession team at my church

-moved into new friendships and relationships

-moved out of friendships and relationships

-gained new understanding about my strained relationship with my Father (who I haven’t spoken to or seen in seven years)

-gained three new roommates who are like sisters to me

-moved into a new awareness about my lack of trust in God as my Father

moving forward…

My #OneWord365 for 2014 is TRUST. I’ve known it for awhile and when memory of my year of MOVE hit my heart I could hear God say, “You moved all right. Now I need you to trust me. Trust the transformative power of my Son’s death. Trust that the Holy Spirit is with you always. And trust that you are powerful to do all the things you think of. I am here for you even in the tiniest idea or thought. Trust me.”

I am also going to sign up for a gym membership. Just for the heck of it.

 

EmbRace Healing – All Aboard the Millennial Trains Project

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By Acasia Olson

A woman gets on a train to travel the country and spread the message of racial healing and reconciliation.  That woman is me and I would love your support to make my idea and project, EmbRace Healing, a reality! 

 I’m hoping to secure a seat on the March 2014 Millennial Trains Project so join me as I step up to keep from falling back ! #letushealandhelponeanother #HelpingUsGrowSpiritually – H.U.G.S.