Thanks, Tom

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Cognitive dissonance… it’s that uncomfortable state we experience when something we’ve been trained to believe in gets proven wrong, but we still can’t let go. 

Like when you first discovered the truth about Santa or the tooth fairy. Or the first time you admit that college isn’t necessarily the best choice for post high school. Or when you tell people that Jesus was Black. Or when a Black man is a cop assigned to keep white people safe at an anti-Black rally. 

Since the murder of Mike Brown, I have consistently wondered about what it feels like to be a Black cop in Amerikkka because in my mind “Black cop” is an oxymoron. 

When Black people are the most common targets of racial profiling and police brutality, how does someone grapple with being Black in blue? 

That’s one of the first questions I had when this guy took coffee out to the National Guard as they were stationed on the streets of riot filled 1967 Detroit. 

There was a moving scene where he uses his uniform privilege to rescue a Black teen who was caught outside after curfew. The teen was anything but grateful because he had clearly decided he was ready to go toe to toe with the officers. 

After the Black US Marshall walked him into safety, the teen looked at him with contempt and said “Thanks, Tom.” Alluding to “Uncle Tom” the catchall term used for Black people who are knowingly pandering to white people. 

This Black Marshall needed a job. The 1960s were hard for Black people. No one blames him for trying to provide for his family. But when and where do we draw the line? When do we decide to put our Blackness back in front and say no to participating in the demise of our people?

The guy in the film watched these white officers torture, brutalize, torment and murder young Black men and still was on their side. It wasn’t until he became their victim that he rethought his stance. This is him being interrogated as a suspect for the crimes he watched. I felt everything but sorry for him. 

How many stories of Black officers being shot at or treated harshly when they were out of uniform do we need before we acknowledge that a seat at the table doesn’t help if it isn’t your own table?

Sitting at the table with your oppressor doesn’t mean you’re welcome there. See how dumb that logic is? More Black police officers doesn’t mean more opportunities for justice. It means more Black people positioned against their people. 

#OhCAE, I’m done for now. 

´╗┐Gentrification: A Beautiful Monster

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I saw that on Facebook. Gentrification: A Beautiful Monster

My favorite reference site, Wikipedia, says that “Gentrification is a trend in urban neighborhoods, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses.”
Simply stated: gentrification is when they, the powers that be, have ruined cities that used to be mostly populated by people of color and the liberal children of the those who left during White Flight come back to rename areas of cities that POC have been living in for decades. Then all of a sudden businesses that would have nothing to do with urban areas start popping up everywhere. Then houses and apartments start costing too much so the POC who’ve been there all along can’t afford to live there anymore so they get evicted. After a bunch of evictions, the houses, apartments and other units get renovated, the neighborhood or burrow gets a cool new name. More people move in, urban gardens get planted, the streets get cleaned and the economy sees a surge.


Ok… so that wasn’t a simple explanation, but it encapsulates the oxymoronic nature of the beautiful monster, gentrification.

Here in Detroit, it’s hard to love it while watching what it is doing to my family and family friends. Taxes are astronomical so it’s hard to keep up with them as well as the super high water rates. When people fall behind everybody blames them for not paying bills. It totally makes sense, no bill pay, no water. No taxes paid, no home. But it’s not that cut and dry. However, that’s beside the point.While I watch people fight to keep their homes, I drive ten minutes away from my home on the Northwest side of the city and end up in Cass Corridor. You probably know of it as “Midtown.” And I look around and realize it’s a completely different city. I ride downtown and inevitably think to myself “Why did they come from?” The bike lanes. The neighborhood names. The coffee shops. The new parking meters. The White people. 

The diversity that comes from gentrification is beautiful. The way natives are being mistreated, displaced and forgotten is monstrous. 

Dear All Lives Matter

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Dear All Lives Matter,

The schools of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are being stripped. The teachers are being forced out and being made to look like the villains. Before you know it, DPS won’t exist. Children are being forced to go to schools that don’t have heat, updated books, or enough certified teachers to teach. Everyone knows that a quality education is one of the prerequisites to a successful life. The lives of those children matter because all lives matter.

You might have heard about the Sick Outs, but just in case you haven’t let me catch you up. DPS teachers are calling in sick, in droves. So many are calling in because they really are sick. They’re sick of losing their benefits. They’re sick of taking paycuts. They’re sick of having to teach 40 students per class. They are sick of losing funding. They are sick of being blamed for the failing system. They are sick of knowing that their school district is being intentionally and systematically dismantled by the institution that claims to be supporting them, the state. They are sick of not being able to live lives like people with full time jobs. Their lives and livelihoods matter because all lives matter. So yea, they’re sick, but probably not as sick as our neighbors in Flint.

I know you know about the genocide poisoning unfortunate event that is the lead filled water that’s plaguing the city of Flint. So far, only ten people have died. You and I know that even ten is too many because all lives matter. Different organizations are working together to donate bottled water to the citizens of Flint. This needs to happen because city officials have officially declared that the brown colored water is safe to drink and bathe in.

Detroit and Flint used to be heavily populated cities. They attracted lots of people in decades past because so many jobs were available in car plants. Over the years, the jobs were moved to the suburbs, but the people (who couldn’t afford to move) stayed. Schools are funded based on the property values of the homes surrounding the schools. If neighborhoods are poor so are the schools. Poor schools lose resources and materials. Then, class sizes increase and test scores decrease. The government uses the test information as proof that the teachers, administrators and school board are inept and the solution is for the state to take over. This happened in both Detroit and Flint.

I could say more, but I want this message to reach the people it’s intended to reach before I divulge more details about the crimes being committed against Black people of color  poor people citizens of Michigan so please send this to the leaders of All Lives Matter of Michigan.

Fundamentally, we agree. All lives matter. The way we show that is different though. Let’s meet and discuss this.

Peace,

CAE

P.S. Please tell the modern day slave auctioneers who break up families  Child Protective Services (CPS) that it isn’t ok for them to come and take citizens of Flint’s children because they are refusing to pay water bills for polluted water.

  

Home Is Where the Heart [of God] Is

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Last year my life changed a lot. The city I live in, the job I do, the people I live with, the church I attend, the work I do at church… All different now.

All the changes happened pretty close to the same time. That season of so much transition left me feeling lost and frankly kinda… Homeless. I have always had somewhere to live, but you know the saying “Home is where the heart is.”? It’s so very true, but my heart was everywhere. My heart was in the Greater Lansing area because I lived there my whole adult life. It was at Kidtime because I worked there longer than any other job I’d ever worked. My heart was at the Epicenter of Worship because it was the only constant in my ever changing life. That is until I realized the Lord was shifting me to a new place, spiritually and literally. When I finally acknowledged the feeling that change was unavoidable, between sobs, I asked and begged the Lord to let me stay. Because that was my home. My spiritual parents were there and they have nurtured me since I was a babe in Christ and a teen in my natural life.
My friends were there. And I was comfortable there.
One day, during one of my fits I heard the Holy Spirit edit that home adage. He said “Home is where the heart [of God] is.” I knew what He was saying. He meant, wherever God is, I’m home. That gave me the peace and oz (courage) to move on, emotionally.

That moment was replaying in my mind constantly as I visited Caesarea Phillipi. Today, I walked on a bridge that goes over the Jordan River.

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As soon as I stepped on it, a song came to mind. “When I wake up to find Your glory divine and I finally bow at Your feet, I will lift up Your name in honor and praise. When I cross over Jordan, I know that I’ll be running home to You.”

One of the main purposes of this trip, according to the visionary, is to help people develop a heart for Israel. That’s what happened for me in that moment. God loves the people of Israel. He is in covenant with them. He loves the land of Israel. If His heart is here, I’m home.

And it’s a blessing to be grafted into that covenant family.

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The biggest kicker? My room number is my home address.

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