Stained Glass Windows: Flint Michigan

An American city left without help. Imagine living in a part of the country once known as the heartbeat of everything that could go right for the American dream, living in what is boasted as the greatest country in the world. That American Dream and that great Country becomes a nightmare, you become a city without a country. A town burdened with polluted water, racial issues, corruption, financial debt, and an opioid crisis. Flint, a city with an overwhelmed and understaffed police force, faced with poor finances, 98 officers serving 300,000 citizens.

Flint first came to light a few years ago because of the water crisis and it was everywhere, all over social media and all over every news channel, cable news and local news. News articles, and commentators and news anchors spoke aggressively about how horrible it was that an American city could have no clean drinking water. How could that be so in America, in the United States? And then it faded from the front pages and the front-lines. You would’ve have thought that the problem was solved. What we didn’t hear about was how much more trouble Flint was in. The police force that had the job of policing over a quarter of a million people, but themselves didn’t even hit the number marker of a hundred. Flint officers are overwhelmed and performing the job of drug counselors, and unable to do their jobs of deterring crime. Their depressed police force suffers from budget cuts, how do you make 98 officers stretch in a city that has so many other woes? Poverty is the lightening match for crime, and for substance abuse.

 

Of course, there have been campaigns run on ways to turn the city around, new police chiefs with new plans for new ways of policing. The community wants more police presence but perhaps our communities need more than just the presence of law and order. It is like teachers who are now asked to be more than teachers, they are asked to be psychologists, parents, and providers etc.

The median income used to be $84,000 in Flint, now more than 41 percent of the city is below the poverty line and it is one of the top three most violent cities. Flint magnifies our issues as a country. The issues that things need to change and that we no longer live in a capitalistic society, and that those who live and work in the bottom 99 percent are suffering the most. And no one is answering the call. If the government is not answering the call what is the answer. And as people of the greatest country in the world who do we look to?

This country needs an infusion, the life and spirit of the civil rights movement (where people traveled to make a better life in different areas of the country) where are we that we are not addressing the woes and the pains of our brethren.

Where is the united in these United States, there has not been a more evident case of a lack of system than by looking at Flint, Michigan, a city that has disappeared from the front pages and from people’s minds but are still suffering from unclean water, lack of economic opportunity and a depressed environment of hope.

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United States for SALE

There have been over 500 days of draining the swamp and making America great again, capitalism style in Washington. Some folks declare Trump, the great white hope or the great white hype, some believe he will be the one to return us to classic American values.

For many of us that has remained to be seen. But what we have seen have been Tweets, questionable business practices, and illicit presidential decisions. The New York magazine’s early April issue was entitled “No, it’s not collusion, incompetence or cruelty . . . it’s corruption”.

 

4/6 Trump and Ivanka meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping at Mar-A-Lago, same day China approves trademarks for three of Ivanka’s brands

7/17 The administration increases allotment for H2-B visas for foreign workers. Within days Mar-A-Lago applies for 76 of the new visas even though a local jobs agency has 5100 applicants qualified to fill the openings

In May of 2017 rates for Trumps hotel jumped to $653 a night, that was a 60% hike after his election.

In July of 2017 e-cigarettes makers held their annual conference at the hotel, ten days later the FDA announced that it would postpone federal oversight of e-cigarettes until the year 2022 . . . coincidence? Highly unlikely . . .

April 4th the State Department ran an online promotion for Trumps Mar-A-Lago property, which embassy websites in both England and Albania picked up.

12/31/2017 trump has been running pay to play schemes with things such as boosting ticket prices for his New Year’s Eve bash to $750.00, of which taxpayers paid for lights, tents and generators to the tune of $26,000. (501 Days, Crane, Joy April 2-15, 2018, New York Magazine p.27)

We have been consistently paying for the Trump’s to conduct business as usual without the cost of running business since he has taken office. For example, Trump’s children have flown all over the world to Dubai, the Dominican Republic, India and Uruguay, to name a few, to research investment opportunities for licensing and real estate deals. This from a man who has still yet to release his tax returns and we have yet to find out where most of his business investments belong. How this has gone on this long and why there has not been more of an uproar is unreal.

 

What we do know puts our government’s integrity at a great disadvantage and in a dangerous place. There is something very dangerous about a man that has no allegiances. Our president owes foreign entities and banks more than 2.3 billion dollars from a loan formed by Goldman Sachs, another company with questionable business practices, this loan is backed by Bank of China . . . things that make you go hmmmm . . . To have our presidency in a such a precarious position is dangerous for the American people. And we have not even begun to see what lurks behind the curtain of white walls on capitol hill.

These few facts are more than frustrating to me they are frightening. Our presidency, our country is for sale to the highest bidder in a game that has no rules or regulations. Trump is making rules up as he goes along, and those rules are subject to change at any time and without notice. So, who is left to really drain the swamp? To make America great period? Where does the constant backbiting and lily-livered leave us, the inability to stand for something and die for it, to not be bought but to be passionate and strong?

Presidency for sale, comes with country on the verge of Nazi hopefuls and white nationalism to boot . . . Black and Brown need not bid . . .

Sold to highest bidder . . .  

The Tower of Babel

Most people are familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel. For those unfamiliar this is a story within Genesis that explains the confusion of language around the world, amongst a few other things. Now from a theologian standpoint there are a few issues with the story but that’s another article for another time. But here let me give you a short mini scoop of what the story consists of. The people were enjoying the fruits of the world, money, probably material things, in the way of their material items, frankincense, linens, precious metals, livestock etc. They were enjoying it so much that they needed something else to take on. You know kind of like toda and our need to go from the Iphone 7 to the iPhone 8 and X, or the Note 5 to the Note 8. These people decide amongst themselves well we have mastered this what now? And like that the answer came to them, “We should build a tower to heaven”. And so they started to build. Now if we were in church with a Bishop So and So, or An Apostle this and That we may go a little further and deeper into the text, to get as our church people say “a word”, or some meat off the bones, but we’re not and I’m nobodys bishop, apostle or pastor so I’ll keep the premise of the text simple and the purpose of the article short.

 

So needless to say God was a little teed off at their boldness and presumptuousness, you know like a parent who has already given you great advice an told you what to do with the money they have given you to invest, but you’ve decided that perhaps you know better than they do and you kind of well do your own thing, yeah like that. So in short, he scatters the people and  confuses their language. Nothing like trying to get something done without email, video chat, the cloud and HTP services.

 

We miss a lot of subtle messages in the biblical text because we are so hung up on the race of Christ, (of course he was black man duh), or the authenticity of which race wrote it, who are the real Hebrews anyway? Or the literal meanings of the words and the plight of how God would have us really deal with our issues of fornication, and our confusion about what the text says about drinking, or polygamy and homosexuality. Or even convincing people that God on gender reassignment even though they hadn’t even started surgery then. All that complication makes us miss some of the simplest testaments of the word. I’m not here to argue any of the above debates, and I can believe me with fervor, but what I am here to say is sometimes the answer isn’t always that angry or that brutish. Sometimes what the answer is changes its language like the people of Babel depending on who God is speaking to.

 

It is an uncanny story to the way we live every day. This is not a religious lesson I promise, I am using this text though to make a point. But let’s take a deeper look to see what. The main theme for a lot of people is that the people of Babel were bold enough to try to be like God. But what if the text is a story about a people who consumed and found more and more ways to consume until the last thing to consume was themselves? These people had an appetite, an appetite that needed something better every time they turned around.

Look around you, yes you, right now.

 

What do you see?

 

Take a real good look at the people who are around you? Look away from the phone, the tablet, the laptop. Look away from your Instagram, your snapchat, your Facebook Live, stop pinning for a moment. I tell you what I see, I see people who go to dinner and lunch and eat with their phones, and people who allow the mass army of capitalism convince us that the last version of something that we bought isn’t good enough. So while we follow like aimless sheep and forget what it’s like to just be satisfied do we realize we are building our own Babel? We argue about race, no one understands the other, we speak about guns and yet one group cannot identify or empathize with the loss of those who have experienced their children and loved ones gone from gun violence, they see only THEIR rights. The Tower of Babel wasn’t about empathy or compassion, it had nothing to do with improving life, it was simply about attaining more, creating something bigger. we balked when we tried universal healthcare because we thought why would I want to help someone else who couldn’t afford the level of care I have every day because my job pays the majority of the premium. We are aimless and wander about shamelessly as we tell Muslim countries how to run their own worlds because guess what ours is so perfect. We have a prison system that is hired help for shareholders, each prisoner is only a dollar sign and although we as a country only make up 5% of the world we make up 25% of the imprisoned.

 

The Tower of Babel. When we think of criminals we think of the big bad wolf not a disproportionate number of men and women of color who have come out of our own Foster care system failed educationally, mentally, and emotionally. Statistics show that men and women who go to jail do so at an alarming rate as former foster care children. Who failed who?

 

Yet and still we still can’t quite find a common ground. Because we can’t understand each other. Imagine that. That confusion of the language doesn’t even mean that we don’t technically speak it, we just don’t speak it the same way.

The Tower of Babel.

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Stained Glass Windows: Give Me Liberty

 

Kim Dallas

 

His children had been separated from him, his wife sent into no-mans-land, he appealed to his masters’ conscience, appealed to the better part of him, the father in him, the husband in him . . . . this might read like an old slave narrative, and you’d think that it would be describing a story of a family in 1818 not 2018, but you’d be wrong, it can easily be the story of those at our borders seeking asylum or sneaking across our borders risking their freedom and life for what they think will be a better life in these United (not so) United States.

 

The issue of Immigration, securing our borders, and DACA have been at the helm of discussions and debate for some time now, and unfortunately though it seems new it is not a new issue at all. We visited this issue during the Reagan presidency when amnesty was offered. There have been laws placed on the books, this wall we discuss at length has been law for years, but there has never been any money appropriated. No matter where you stand on the immigration issue there are some things that we must agree that should never be allowed to happen, there are some things that we should be above. We have become a country of the deaf, the blind and the “act dumb”.

 

We boast that we are the greatest country in the world, we boast about our economy, about our freedoms; our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our freedom of choice, our freedom to be who we are, to protest, and not agree, but we are living in a time where we tell people they may not kneel during an anthem because we just don’t agree, we tell people that their religion is not to be freely expressed, because it does not align with ours, and everyone knows that Christianity is the greatest religion that ever was, right? We tell people that this is ONLY the greatest country for the greatest people that ONLY the greatest people can pick, and your color, your hair texture, your taste in music, your spiritual entity, your way of dress, who you love and who you marry may disqualify you of that. We boast that we are the worlds superpower, that we rest on “Christian values” although the values that have been lauded recently seem more like those of barbaric mans land with none of the  values, religion, or rules that we associate with our great and mighty Jesus Christ, Jehovah Jireh, or Elohim. They do not seem to be the words of a Red-Letter REVOLUTION practiced when the benediction is said on Sunday afternoons by those who spent their Sunday mornings in praise and worship and song. Or even by a people who don’t attend but confess that they believe in something greater, and bigger, fiercer and more than themselves.

 

So exactly where is this America that we shouldn’t be kneeling on? Where does this America exist that was once so great and grandiose that we have to harm others and strip families apart to get it back? Exactly what part of the country do I need to travel to to visit this America that does not incarcerate at alarming rates along color and socioeconomic lines, this America that does not make a separation between drug wars and drug epidemics, this country that does not have a glass ceiling that effects women and people of color, this country that keeps its eyes on BlackLivesMatter’s leaders as they did Black Panthers leaders and categorize them as Terrorist threats. Where is this country exactly that does not lose children, brown children . . .? I’ll wait

 

1475 children are missing. Gone. Unaccounted for.

 

Like dreams that only are alive for hours at a time.

 

Our America that split 658 children from 638 adults who were put into the “prosecution process” from May 7 to May 21, according to statistics provided by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to Congress.

Children are being ripped from their parent’s possession because they are committing a crime by entering the country illegally and ICE is locking their parents up in immigration detention centers.

 

America the beautiful

 

Even those who are not breaking the law and are seeking asylum are being separated from their families, but what is awe-striking is how this is happening.

My country tis of thee, sweet land of Liberty.

 

ICE officers are telling parents that their children are going to be fed, going to receive baths and they are not returning them. Instead these children are being placed in the already overwhelmed offices of Refugee Resettlement which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Imagine we have a department that deals with health and humans . . . who’d have thought.  

So, this America that I keep reading about, the one our “Leader” (for lack of a better word) of the FREE World, keeps bragging about has no legitimate plan in place to reunite families together or even to keep up with these children who have been taken, and whether they are encountering a wide variety of abuse. So exactly which America is this, and who does this America belong to? On one hand it asks that for the tired and the poor, and the other it excludes the very people it calls for. We are now being faced with the America that strips children and places them in danger to experience the horrors of sexual, physical and mental abuse, and even possibly being placed in the custody of sex and human traffickers.

 

Home of the BRAVE

 

This is not an argument for approving of breaking the law but it is a plea that because these children are poor and brown children they are being handled with little regard as human beings. Some of these children are being placed in an already broken and disillusioned system of foster care, another story for another time. Even so it is a system that already doesn’t work for our native-born children and is now being overloaded with children from other countries who do have parents that can care for them. So, I forget is this America or have we suddenly been transported to a time where a dictator has appealed to the hate and desperation of people’s emptiness, and we now approve of arguable means to implement the law?

“Writing gives us freedom. It is this freedom that I yearned for that had me create a place for others to be heard. Creating partnerships and building relationships is what has motivated me. Art is the source of eyes to the soul, and words provide the translation to that work of art.”

– Kim Hicks