January 2016

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"For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight." - Psalm 72:12-14
I have found myself repeatedly returning to this passage of scripture over the last several weeks. In a divided culture that often portrays social justice movements as a threat, it is encouraging to hear scripture describe the "cause of the poor" as a cause that God will defend. In a world of injustice, God judges the poor specifically with justice (v. 2). And this means that Christians, too, are called to defend this cause. My faith leads me to hope in a future where justice is realized in the kingdom of God, but the example of Christ also leads me to work in the present to achieve this future, even if its only a glimpse. What does it mean to be a Christian if we are not the hands and feet of Christ in a broken world?

There are moments at the beginning of every year when I wish that I could just sit down with parents and walk them through the harrowing process that is known as Elementary Education in the state of Oklahoma. But every year I put a smile on my face and walk them through the future that I hope we can create for their children, despite all the systemic obstacles standing in their way. My hopes for a better future wage war against an enemy too monolithic to fully describe. The following is a letter written by the System regarding the future that it has planned for our children. It is only a very small snapshot of a much larger network of systemic forces working together to destroy our children's future. school-bus-1527162-1280x960 Dear Family of _________, Welcome to American Dream Elementary! We are honored to incorporate your child into our data. Today, we partner with you in the challenging process of permanently institutionalizing your child for the rest of its life! We understand that you have many fears and worries. Rest assured, your child is in good hands.

Note: This is the second installment in a series discussing Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. For other posts in this series see: the new jim crow Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is fast becoming a favorite on my Kindle shelf. I’ve been slowly making my way through each chapter, researching her citations, and sharing my notes as I go. In Chapter 1, Alexander argues that America’s “War on Drugs” and “tough on crime” legislation emerged as a new form of racial control, directly opposing the gains of the Civil Rights Movement. She presents compelling evidence to back up her claims, starting with the history of reconstruction, working through the Civil Rights Movement, and then examining the major political movements that followed. Here are a few major talking points that stood out from Chapter 1:

It was early in August. Students would not be starting for several weeks. I had spent June and July in New York on a much-needed vacation with my family after a grueling first year of teaching. Now I was back. Ready to start a new academic year. Theoretically. I pulled into the parking lot of my school and grabbed a box from the pile of junk in the back seat. It had been two months since I’d packed up my classroom for the summer. Time to start another year. I finagled my way past the building’s rusty gate and somehow managed to open the southeast door with a few spare fingers underneath my box of supplies.