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February 19, 2014
I have been asked to write some reflections on my experience at the Moral March this last Saturday in Raleigh, NC. It is most likely too early for me to be writing anything as I am still processing that experience and my deeply cavernous distress over what has happened at the hands of the North Carolina Legislature this past year.
Durham, North Carolina is my hometown. I’m so Durham that I was born in Watts Hospital which now houses the NC School of Math and Science. I’m so Durham that I know who the men’s basketball coach for Duke University was before Coach K! North Carolina public schools educated me, one of her colleges graduated me and she offered me beautiful landscape from the shores of the mighty Atlantic to the mountains of Appalachia.
I can still sing the Nick Galafanakis jingle when he ran for congress back in the ‘70s. (Granted this last one might be a little overboard) I also sing,
“I like calling North Carolina home”.
It’s been hard enough having relocated outside of the state of my heart. Now, I have been watching decades of hard work and progress be stripped away in one year by a majority that is not Republican. This majority is Repulsive and mean. They have taken the low road hoping no one notices how their pockets are getting deeper and richer while the majority of North Carolinians are suffering and worried and frightened. When humans become afraid we tend to shut down and shut out others, fueling our isolation, and tempting us to blame other people for our woes rather than the lawmakers who have added to our already strained problems.
I am one of those people who have spent her life being blamed for all the issues and the woes of the greedy and mean. First, I am female and a feminist. The female part is by birth. The feminist part is by choice because I care to voice my opinions to a male dominated world and have the audacity to expect fair and equal treatment. Women and men who hold this viewpoint are called feminist.
Second, I am also lesbian and live outside of a closet. The lesbian part is by birth. The ‘outside of a closet’ part is by choice because I am too old and too tired to really care what you think about who my heart has chosen to marry. Yes, marry.
Third, my income is below the poverty level and there has been a time in my life where I needed to draw unemployed benefits. My family has supported me in various ways, friends have supported me in various ways and I have worked many jobs in and out of corporate America. I have plenty of education. I have even continued to take courses, learn a trade all the while working. Even today, I am working part time, in another training program part time and part time in my private practice of therapeutic bodywork. Still, my income is below or at poverty level.
On the ‘positive’ side, I am a documented US citizen.
I am white. (actually, I’m not white at all, I’m more beige. I think Crayola calls it “nude.”)
This is what gives me privilege in the United States of America. A nation founded by undocumented immigrants, all of whom desired freedom for all men to pray, to earn their living, to raise their family, to be their own master and king. While we praise the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, let’s pause to remember all of the Native Americans that were murdered or beat down so that we can have this fine land of the free and home of the brave. In fact, let’s still remember how we keep the original peoples of this land suppressed and oppressed on their reservations while we rape and plunder their Turtle Island.
Maybe I am so despondent about the de-gression of North Carolina because I see that Empire has been building from the beginning of the 13 colonies. Yes, North Carolina is one of the original 13 colonies of these United States. All of my life I have viewed myself as belonging to a fair and lovely state where everyone had a chance to succeed. Everyone had a safety net. Heck, there were even people who came from other countries South of us to do the menial labor that we are now too good and middle class to do. Labor such as scrubbing toilets, trash collecting and picking pickles before they are pickled is labor that is beneath us now.
When asked how this happened in progressive North Carolina, I overheard an Episcopal priest said, “they caught us progressives sleeping."
Truth sometimes hurts. Thousands will pay the price of this sleeping.
But progressives are sleeping no more.
“Forward together, not one step back," the Rev. Dr. Barber leads the chants as he has been at the forefront for years encouraging North Carolinians to wake up. When the bottom fell out, Dr. Barber and the NAACPNC were already in place with other progressive groups to help lead a movement that is for everyone. Where politicians have craftily divided citizen and issue against one another, this Moral Movement is bringing people together.
“Forward together, not one step back," tens of thousands chanted as they walked towards the capitol in Raleigh last Saturday. Many flesh tones were represented, many faiths, many groups from all issues of injustice were present walking, singing, meeting one another, encouraging one another. This is the United States of America. This movement right here in North Carolina is calling all of us back to living our roots of justice for everyone and democracy FOR the people, by the people, because OF the people. Perhaps this call is another chance to live more honestly into our democracy for all.
The road is long and we all need each other. Some forms of religion and politics and corporations will continue to spread the lies that divide us. But we are one commonwealth of humanity. We all seek to belong. We all seek to be heard. We all need food. We all need shelter. We all need health care. We all need to love. We all need to be loved. We all hurt. We all want to heal. We all have blood that is the same color.
This movement is about the witness of injustice and calling it out. This movement is about showing us that we all do need each other and we are better together than we are divided. This movement is about the higher ground of Love, Life and deep joy and sorrow that we can experience in community, not in isolation.
This movement is about choosing a big heart and not a small one.
This movement is about seeing how I participate in injustice for others and myself and asking my neighbor to help me get back on the path to living justly, to doing mercy and for all of our sakes, learning how to walk humbly with ourselves and especially with others. When we are humble with ourselves and each other, we are walking humbly with God.
Blessed are the peacebeings and peacedoers, for therein lies the Holy commonwealth of God.