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Serious About Change?

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, PhD

The Truth Contributor

In Africa you never say, "I am my brother’s keeper." You just keep him. - John Henrik Clarke


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

It was close to a perfect storm. It began when a 17-year-old teen’s video of the killing of a handcuffed black man named George Floyd while in police custody went viral. The recording captured the attention of a swelling multitude of racially and economically diverse young people around the globe who have declared a boisterous but peaceful, contemporary War against Racism.

Why now?

Some point to the void created by "bourgeoisification" of the Black Church. This term illustrates its shift in focus from civil rights to commercialism, individualism, and prosperity as a primary goal of faith. Silent during the death of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and others, the Black Church lost its authenticity and influence and has, possibly until now, been irrelevant in developing strategies against structural racism and white privilege. In the meantime, non-traditional and non-institutional faith and non-faith groups have stepped in the gap to promote social justice and provide a prophetic voice for diverse contexts, especially for those on the margins. It remains to be seen if the Church, which has been long absent from "the streets," can again obtain credibility with "the streets."

Others, meanwhile, fear that the presence of the darker or more antagonistic and self-interested sides of human nature are also appearing in institutions. Systems such as state and local governments, educational systems and criminal justice systems with their massive infrastructures including police departments, prisons, courts, judges, prosecutors and even public defenders are often (explicitly or implicitly) narcissistic, psychopathic or Machiavellian bastions of hatred, racism, and lawlessness operating as cover for white supremacy or black self-hate. These closed-minded neurotic structures reveal themselves when their representatives mouth complementary slogans but assault people of color and look the other way as others perpetuate acts of hate.

The bottom line is that people, in the words of the late Fannie Lou Hamer, are truly "sick and tired of being tired."

What Do We Get for our Money?

Following the George Floyd death by police and the resultant protests, many corporations, businesses, governments, and individuals have shown

support for Black Lives Matter and the fight for racial equality. Money has been donated, public statements of solidarity have been announced, racism has been openly denounced, and the affirmation of black lives has been publicly proclaimed.

Yet, if change is to occur, it will take more than a few donations, public pronouncements, or slogans.

"Whites are 60 percent of the population but: 90 percent of Congress, 96 percent of the governors, 1000 percent of top military leaders, president and vice president; 93 percent of television executives, 83 percent of teachers, 84 percent of college professors," says Louisville pastor Kevin Cosby. They also get an obscene disproportion of the construction and social services contracts awarded in Toledo and Lucas County.

The truth is that black-led organizations have the ability to solve the problems that the white establishment has not been able to move the needle on despite investing billions into white public governmental spaces. Black-led organizations continue to be treated like black people, undervalued and underfunded. Black communities have been defunded as society has invested massive financial capital in punitive-based criminal justice systems, public safety and mass incarceration rather than prevention and diversion.

Do You Want To Get Well?

If we are truly committed to real change, we should, first of all, defund white organizations who have an innate need to perpetuate their own existence rather than bring their clients to an actual state of wellness, which they feel will eliminate the need for their services. Instead, invest in black-led organizations that can produce the powerful positive results to actually solve the problems which result from the deep-seated structural inequities in our society.

Finally, someone told me recently, that Toledo is still stuck in the 1950s from a policy, funding, and racial equity standpoint. Many folks (or their exact template) are in the same positions doing the same things they were decades ago – erecting barriers and impediments for minorities; playing favoritism games in funding, policy, and personnel decisions, handing out discipline in a biased way. This suggests that we are too far gone to plant a few cute, shiny initiatives and think that we can harvest success in public safety, education or the criminal justice system.

Put up or Shut Up!

What is clear, is that if local leadership is serious about change, then the time is over for lip service, talks, and meetings. What we need is top to bottom systemic reform. We need change. It needs to be drastic. And, We need it now!

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/26/20 01:03:31 -0400.



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