Justice

Connect Intellectual Diversity to Justice Work

Diversity and Justice

(Photo Credit: Democracy Now)

Although an aggressive pursuit of racial, social, economic, and educational justice is admirable and necessary, those engaged in justice work must connect intellectual diversity to their efforts. You cannot claim to champion justice while failing to welcome and appreciate ideas and viewpoints divergent from your own. Justice isn’t justice when it’s disconnected from love. In fact, Dr. Cornel West, one of the greatest minds, public intellectuals, and fighters for justice in world history, often says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Are you so “woke” that you only see your ideas and viewpoints as the vehicles through which change can be instigated and engendered?

Democracy, Intellectual Diversity, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When looking at how to create change, one doesn’t have to look any further than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a real change agent and justice leader, the man who changed America forever. King met, engaged, and debated everyone, including racists and those desiring to kill and undermine him. He understood to develop solutions that have broad support discourse with those known and perceived to be disagreeable is required. The world-renowned slain civil rights leader was serious about democracy, keenly aware of how frank debate, especially with various opposing sides, is essential to an authentic multivocal, multiethnic democracy.

Kingian democracy, therefore, longs for inclusion, inclusion of all voices—regardless of how unsavory—revealing an unwavering faith in democratic ethics and possibilities. In Prophetic Fragments: Illuminations of the Crisis in American Religion and Culture, Cornel West (1988) asserts that: “King was convinced that despite the racism of the Founding Fathers, the ideals of America were sufficient if only they were taken seriously in practice. Therefore, King’s condemnation of and lament for America’s hypocrisy and oppression of poor whites, indigenous peoples, Latinos, and black people was put forward in the name of reaffirming America’s mission of embodying democracy, freedom, and equality” (p. 11).

King didn’t exclude the racist Founding Fathers from his notion of democracy. Unfortunately, though, too many in the postmodern epoch isolate themselves from others for far less critical differences. In this moment of increasing moral, social, cultural, political, and religious decadence, people will isolate themselves from others over the most inconsequential personal choices, including a choice not to “boycott” the NFL or make posts on social media platforms that pledge allegiance to their capricious brands of “woke.”

King embraced the reality that any valid notion of freedom and democracy must welcome intellectual diversity. As Booker T. Washington stated in his 1895 “Atlanta Compromise” speech delivered at the Cotton Estates and International Exposition in Atlanta, “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Washington, sharing some affinities with King, understood the power of intellectual diversity. Washington anticipates the Kingian “beloved community.” With agapic love, King evinced for a nation, for the globe how potent, how beautiful diversity in all of its flavors can be and how we can enjoy being “separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand.”

Postmodern Fragmentation: A Challenge for Justice Work

In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, leading Marxist cultural theorist Fredric Jameson (1991) asserts that one of the central problems in postmodernism, the cultural and historical period in which we reside, is a general proclivity to cherish fragmentation and reject totality. This fatuous acceptance of fragmentation figures prominently in whether efforts to achieve racial social, economic, and educational justice are successful. Late capitalism’s cultural logic leads too many individuals, individuals claiming to work for justice, to quarrel with one another over their petty differences, sacrificing their collective interests and aspirations for their own selfish interests and wishes.

Selfishness and Justice

To overcome this troubling propensity for selfishness, courageous and indefatigable justice activists and leaders must expose the rot, the funk selfishness is. We should never allow our personal agendas and interests to hinder and supercede the collective good, interests, and aspirations. When we do, we equip and permit the elites, the oppressors, the ruling class to erect additional barriers to the work of justice that’s crucial to achieving justice.

Before you disengage with people, especially those who have the same interests and goals as you (just with differing ideas and methods pertaining to those interests and goals), recognize when your words and actions are self-defeating, frustrating the very justice work you profess to hold dear.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Did Trump Teach You that God is the Supreme Ruler?

Trump Black Church

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

With the arrival of President Donald J. Trump, a “newfound” understanding of God as the supreme ruler of all has emerged. What’s most troubling about this, however, is the “novel” recognition is more about expressions of anger, protest, and resistance than it is about the truth of our sovereign God. Being “woke” should begin with the reality that God has been the sole ruler of all long before Trump—even long before George Washington. If you want to oppose, criticize President Trump, that’s more than fine. Please, however, don’t act like God just became the King of all of humanity and phenomena. The Lord’s supremacy should always guide all of our thoughts and actions, regardless of political party or ideological persuasion.

Psalm 82: God the Supreme Ruler

Psalm 82 states, “God presides in the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision: ‘You must stop judging unjustly; you must no longer be partial to the wicked! Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless. Rescue them from the power of evil people. ‘How ignorant you are! How stupid! You are completely corrupt, and justice has disappeared from the world. ‘You are gods,’ I said; ‘all of you are children of the Most High.’ But you will die like mortals; your life will end like that of any prince.’ Come, O God, and rule the world; all the nations are yours.”

Justice and Political Action and Discourse in the Era of Trump

Presidents come and go, politicians come and go, kings and queens come and go, but God is eternal. His kingship is eternal and it’s not based on human votes or anything else of the material world: He serves by the divine authority of “the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods.”

Yes, as Psalm 82 makes clear, we’re to resist injustice and wickedness and champion the rights of the powerless, the voiceless (“the poor and the orphans…the needy and the helpless”). Without a true understanding and commitment to the already eternal supremacy of God, the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed, the marginalized will never find liberty from “the power of evil people.” If you, therefore, consider President Trump among “the power of evil people,” then a real sincerity toward God must govern your discourse, your approach, your resistance.

In short, God didn’t just show up on the scene when you surrendered your equanimity to the truth that President Donald J. Trump is your legitimate president of the United States—not simply to be called “45,”—but He’s always been the supreme ruler of all, for “all nations are yours,” even before any human was created.

Ground your protesting and resistance in the truth of God’s eternal supremacy, a supremacy that has always existed.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Reverend Markel Hutchins: Linking Activism and Ministry

Markel Hutchins

(Photo Credit: WSB TV)

A champion for racial, social and economic justice and product of Morehouse College, Reverend Markel Hutchins serves as a shining progressive example of how postmodern Black preachers should be passionately active in their communities.  Hutchins has not been derelict in his duty to engage in civil and human rights efforts, efforts like those Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X championed. Even when he was in high school, one could see a burgeoning fighter for justice in the making: He led a march against the proliferation of drugs in the neighborhood surrounding his school.  Mr. Hutchins went on to become an ordained Baptist minister, leading Markel Hutchins Ministries.  Although there are laws prohibiting clergymen from being politically engaged in the confines of places of worship, this does not mean they cannot be involved in issues pertaining to social and economic policy affecting their communities, especially outside of their places of worship.  Hutchins certainly understands this.

Reverend Hutchins has an acute awareness of the power and significance of Black preachers’ serious involvement in political, social and economic issues during the Civil Rights Movement.  Black preachers during that period understood how to minister to the comprehensive needs of their congregants.  Yes, it’s one thing to feed one’s members spiritual food; another to feed their social, economic, professional and personal development.  Mr. Hutchins has been highly attentive to the complete needs of those he leads.  By doing this, he helps to further the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Although his leadership and ministry emerged in Atlanta, Georgia, a pivotal site during the Civil Rights Movement, his visionary leadership calls him to fight for justice throughout America.

When Black preachers invest in the communities in which they are situated, those communities become better places to live, work and play.  Unfortunately, too many Black preachers are too concerned about their personal and church’s financial prosperity to involve themselves in essential community development. Numerous pusillanimous Black preachers hide behind their collars and robes instead of tackling challenging and critical issues in their communities, including homelessness, police brutality, unfair labor practices, criminal justice system abuses, and racism, as Reverend Hutchins has done and continues to do.

Ministries not advocating for their communities are purposeless.

Markel Hutchins Ministries has purpose, vision and results.

While we increasingly see, hear and read accounts of preachers involved in corruption, and it’s easy not to support any preacher—which is a product of a burgeoning nihilistic impulse in postmodernism—it’s important to pay tribute to those preachers who are making a remarkable difference in the lives of people and their communities.  This is why we have to give Reverend Markel Hutchins his flowers while he’s living.  Although you may not always agree with his methods and viewpoints, it’s clear this man loves his country deeply enough to hold it accountable to fulfilling its nonpareil ideals—expressed most vividly and eloquently in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  We should demand an America as good as it’s promised, and Hutchins is tireless warrior working to see those utopian founding ideals materialize.

When an individual thinks critically and comprehensively about the work Reverend Markel Hutchins has done and is doing, it becomes transparent why former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, the first female mayor of Atlanta and first Black woman of a prominent Southern city, posits that he “will soon be celebrated as one of our nation’s most visible and viable public servants.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Be an Advocate for Justice

Police Brutality

Love and justice are inextricably linked. You cannot love someone if you’re not willing to advocate for justice for him or her. Justice is what love looks like in public. When things are going on in your community that are not right, you need to take a stand against those things. In order to make change happen, you have to get out and do something that’s going to initiate change. You’re not going to make significant change happen by sitting up in your home hoping that it will materialize. Meaningful change happens when serious efforts are engaged in to make it occur.

As history has demonstrated, African-Americans have suffered from disquieting injustices since they have arrived in America to the present day. We have to do a better job of reporting the injustices we experience throughout the nation. All of the injustices we experience are not going to appear in the mainstream media. We have to, therefore, find ways to have our important narratives heard and read.

Through the power of social media, you can advocate for justice for yourself and others.

Social media presents us with opportunities to have our voices heard. It does not cost an individual anything to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and etc. to let a global audience know about injustices that have happened to you, someone you know, and someone you don’t know. More people have to learn they’re not powerless against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc. You can fight against injustice if you would only get up off your butt! One does not have to be rich to defeat injustice.

One person can start a revolution.

Don’t think that your efforts to pursue justice for yourself and others are in vain—they’re not. Organize people around your cause. There’s strength in numbers. When you begin to have people to join your cause, they can start to give you information about individuals and organizations that can help to maximize the power and potential of your efforts. Although it’s vital for you to advocate for justice for yourself and others, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this cause on your own. You need people to assist you in advocating for justice.

If you’re supervisor is treating you unfairly, don’t let him or her continue to be unfair to you. Stand up to him or her! You can get another job. You have to understand that you need to place a value on yourself that’s greater than any job you have and/or will have.

Black people should never allow their White employers to control them. If they allow them to do this, then they’re willingly accepting enslavement. Our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free from the manacles and bondage of slavery in all forms. Don’t render their work useless by being a docile body willing to accept enslavement and exploitation. Honor the legacy of our ancestors by fighting for your right to not be dominated by injustice.

Advocating for justice for yourself and others is not a glamorous job, but it is essential work that must be done for the good everyone and for the good of the global community. When you’re fighting against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc., you have to be willing to be in a war against those phenomena for the long haul. You’re not going to conquer those aforementioned phenomena with “microwave advocacy.” In fact, you will only reaffirm their great power.

Don’t sit back and let things happen to you and people in your community that are unfair. Commit yourself to being an advocate for justice. Black people, it’s time for us to stop settling for oppression, depression, estrangement, exploitation, discrimination, and etc. Let’s use our talents, resources, knowledge, and etc. to defeat the many injustices we confront.

Act today! Be an advocate for justice!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tim Wise is Passionate about Racial Justice

If you are looking to read a blog that features a man who is passionate about racial justice, you will love to read Tim Wise’s blog (http://www.timwise.org/). I have to inform you that Tim Wise is a leftist writer and thinker. If you are a conservative or moderate, what he actually says on his blog will not comport with your thought. This reality, however, should not prevent you from reading his blog. One of the best ways for us to become better writers and thinkers is to read the positions of those we disagree with. By reading the positions of those we disagree with, we learn more about why we believe what we believe and learn more ways to attack the positions of our opposition.

This White man has more zeal about racial justice than many African-Americans I know. He has devoted his life, writing, and research to racial justice. Tim Wise understands the complexity and importance of race and racial dynamics in America. I can assure you that his blog will provoke serious thought for you—whether you agree with him or not.

I encourage you to take a look at Tim Wise’s blog (http://www.timwise.org/). He has some important things to say, and you will love his passion.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison