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Responses to Baltimore

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April 29, 2015

Responses to Baltimore

Photo from pixshark.com; from the Black Lives Matter Tumblr gallery: http://pixshark.com/black-lives-matter-tumblr.htm

Below are responses we have received thus far to the ongoing situation in Baltimore. If you have written something you'd like to share (on Baltimore or the larger issues involved) we'd love to have a copy. You can email your responses to allison@bpfna.org.


Statement from Baltimore United for Change

Baltimore United for Change, a broad coalition of community groups, has released the following statement in response to the events.

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Oh Say Can You See

From Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II - Pastor, Architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement, Father of Five Children, and North Carolina NAACP President.

After dismissal, high school students went to the new shopping center, built after The Wire made their community—Freddie Gray’s community—famous. He is dead. No one is talking. Trust is dead. The police came with their face shields in place. The students and the police lined up, ready to do battle, like the two armies in the Hindu sacred book Bhagavad Gita. It seemed too late for talk. Too late to seek truth, then trust. All that was left were two fearful armies, fated to act out the script of distrust. 

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From the Desk of Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is an American author, political activist, and Rabbi associated with the Jewish Renewal movement.

I grew up in Baltimore. I lived in the same house there from 1933 to 1954. All those years, the neighborhood was utterly white (and heavily Jewish)... My high school was all-white and all-male. The police force was all-white and all-male.The only time I remember seeing more than two or three Blacks in the same place at the same time was at a Paul Robeson concert in a public park not far from my home.

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A Prayer for Baltimore

From Malu Fairley, a BPFNA friend and a member of Wedgewood Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC.

Holy One my heart is breaking I am enraged and afraid for my people of Baltimore
For my son
For all our black bodies struggling to live.

Be with us now.
Protect my people as we take to the streets as we are fighting for racial and economic justice.
Let not this movement be in vain.

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Making Sense of the Chaos

From Ray Schellinger, a longtime BPFNA member and friend, is a missionary with American Baptist International Ministries living in Chula Vista, CA.

I sit here in California at my desk tonight, looking back across the country at my home state of Maryland. I am filled with anguish as parts of Baltimore are being ripped apart and descend into chaos.

We ask how it is that some people could burn down their own community and destroy the organizations and businesses that serve them. I think we miss the point, however.

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Seeing God in the face of Freddie Gray

From Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, a professor of religion at Goucher College in Baltimore County and author of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

In America, the principle construction of the black body is as chattel. The black body was introduced into this country as property, and thus, as a body not meant to be free.

Essentially, the free space was not intended for black people. The free space was deemed a white space. Thus, a free black body was a dangerous, suspicious, threatening and criminal body inasmuch as it is trespassing into a space in which it does not belong.

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Baltimore is Burning: 8 Faith Voices You Should Hear

Several faith leaders reflect on what we can do and how we can learn from the situation in Baltimore.

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The Parable of Baltimore

From Dr. Jim Wallis, the president of Sojourners and author of The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided.

Baltimore, like Ferguson, is a parable — a story that can teach us important lessons. It's one in which we should see that we are, for the most part, still missing the most important lessons.

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The Pastor's Thoughts Along the Way

by Rev. Dave Roberts, pastor of University Baptist Church in Seattle, WA (a BPFNA Partner Congregation).

Nepal. Baltimore.

The end of April has provided enough fodder to keep the 24/7 news cycles full.

The pictures and video tell tales of people dislocated from their place in the societies in which they lived. The majority of the black population of Baltimore is saying they have been shut out and cut off from the larger society and abuse by the police has made it worse.

Being on the outside looking in is never a happy experience if "in" is where you want to be. The media wants to focus on broken windows and damaged property. But the overwhelming causes of violence must be addressed. 

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Separate & (Very) Unequal

from Rev. Dr. Joseph Glaze, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC

Two recent articles in the Washington Post make real the prevalence of un-equality here in the United States. The May 6 issue reported on the findings of Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren that where a child lives shapes that child’s chances of future success as measured by income. Places like Virginia’s Fairfax County dramatically improve a poor child’s odds of moving up the economic ladder. But other locales have the opposite effect, diminishing with each passing year a poor child’s odds of thriving as an adult. Ranked last on this list: Baltimore City.

In Baltimore, every year a poor boy spends there his earnings as an adult fall by 1.5 percent. Add up an entire childhood, and that means a 26-year-old man in Baltimore earns about 28 percent less than he would if he had grown up somewhere in average America. And that’s a whole lot less than the very same child would earn if he had grown up just 50 miles away in Fairfax County.

So, if the recent protests in Baltimore were, as the protesters contended, against a long legacy of inherited disadvantage, that reality is now confirmed: Baltimore is a terrible place to grow up as poor and black.

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