Monthly Archives :

August 2018

Angry. Black. Man.

Angry. Black. Man. 1280 537 Corey Leak

 

What makes you angry? Take a second and think about the last time you were truly mad about something or mad at someone. Maybe it was today when someone cut you off on the freeway, or something you watched or read in the media. Here’s a deeper question. What triggered your anger? Perhaps when you were cut off on the freeway you felt some sense of loss or inadequacy. Maybe when you watched the news you felt afraid of what is happening in the world you live in and that lead to anger.

Most of us don’t need to dig too deep to find justification for our own anger. We are the protagonist in our life story, and all our actions/reactions are completely reasonable and understandable to us. What if while venting about the jackass that cut you off,  you were vilified for being angry and how you expressed it? Would that make you even more angry?

Black people in America have good reasons to be angry yet are often demonized for expressing it. James Baldwin once said: “To be negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time”. Put another way, being a socially conscious black American is the equivalent of being cut off nearly every time you’re on the freeway. Carrying the weight of black witness is a heavy burden. When a black person goes to work, they are carrying the weight of their ancestors, family, and community with them. When a black person is late, they are shouldering social stigma as well as the potential blow to their own professional image. Socially aware black folks wake up every day to the stone cold reality that they will likely see or experience profiling, negative stereotypes or prohibition.

Take for example one of my wife’s recent trips to the Target down the street from our house. She was purchasing a small back pack for our daughter along with a few other items and decided to use the self-checkout lane. While she was standing in line, a Target employee approached her and asked her in front of everyone to see inside the bag. She claimed she needed to check for a sensor (no, our Target doesn’t sell Gucci or Louis Vuitton). After rummaging through the bag like a kid on Halloween looking for red Starbursts, and of course finding no sensor, she walked away. My wife was left standing in a store she goes to weekly feeling the embarrassment of being profiled as a petty thief.

In a way, my wife’s experience is emblematic of the black experience in America. It seems as if we are left “holding the bag” after suffering humiliation or worse from people who still question the validity of our humanity. Travon Martin’s mother was left holding the bag. Philando Castile’s girlfriend and kids were left holding the bag, as were the families of Stephon ClarkKalief Browder and 12 year old Tamir Rice. These are a few of the human beings whose lives were cut short due to injustice. Their families have had to mourn for them and move on without the satisfaction of having society hold the guilty parties accountable for taking their lives. Can you imagine that?  How would it feel to have your family member’s murder be classified as just by a jury? Would you feel angry? Would you protest? Would you support a movement that spread the message that their lives mattered?

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Being angry is a basic huMan right. It’s something we all feel. No law or religion prohibits anger. Suppressing it is to suppress a natural part of our humanity, and can have long term affects on our physical, mental, and emotional health as well as our relationships. As a society we encourage outrage at injustice, bad food service or unfair workplace situations. We often applaud people who in full on fury stand up for themselves or others. However, for some reason there is a shame associated with being an angry black man or woman which leads to black people being apprehensive to express their rage over inequitable treatment that naturally elicits strong emotion.

I’ve had conversations with black people who have felt strongly about things happening in their community, but felt like because of the organizations they work for, they were not allowed to express them. Well meaning people have cautioned me against coming across as angry due to the adverse affect it can have on career advancement. Some of those same people support a President that seems to get angrier with every tweet. Black anger seems to be demonized, feared and escaped when it should be empathized with.

Our proximity to injustice can determine how strongly we feel emotions over it. Perhaps we don’t feel anger, hurt, sadness or troubled by the unjust things that happen to other people around us because we have distanced ourselves from their plight. It’s more comfortable to create distance from the person suffering injustice than to roll our sleeves up and address the systemic problems that caused the inequity to begin with. The further we remove ourselves from the pain of others, the more heartless and judgmental we become to the way they respond to their pain. Anger is a natural response from a community that has been oppressed and stifled throughout it’s history in America, and every one of us should not only allow space for that anger, but join in with outrage of our own.

If I’ve written this blog as well as I hope I have, you’ve experienced some emotion as you’ve read it. Did you feel anger when you read what happened to my wife? Were you emotional when I reminded you that a 12 year old boy lost his life for playing with a toy gun? Those are natural human emotions that you should feel. To quote Saint Thomas Aquinas: “If you can live amidst injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.”  

 

 

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Why “Crazy Rich Asians” Is Important For Us All

Why “Crazy Rich Asians” Is Important For Us All 1280 640 Corey Leak

My wife and I are big time movie watchers. Ninety percent of our dates are the two of us going to see a movie together. Maybe you’re thinking we should be more creative and mix it up sometimes. Maybe we should try bowling. Maybe you should mind your bizness. Earlier this week we saw Crazy Rich Asians. I’m not big on the RomCom genre, so usually if we see one it’s because my wife picked the movie. This particular romantic comedy was my suggestion because its Rotten Tomatoes score was high and it looked like it was another strong attempt at telling an authentic cultural story that wasn’t anglo driven. I went into the movie having had a few conversations with people from the AAPI community about their culture, but far from knowledgeable about the culture represented in the movie. I was intrigued from a cultural perspective in light of Hollywood’s recent success at telling authentic culturally relevant stories like Black Panther and Get Out. It seems that the movie industry is attempting to make space for the stories of non-European people groups, and we the consumers are responding somewhere between “YES” and “FINALLY”.

 

I talked to a couple friends of mine after seeing CRA who were both AAPI individuals. Both of them expressed the joy they felt in watching people who looked like them being portrayed on the big screen in ways that preserved the dignity of their culture and heritage. It’s not often that you see a main stream romcom where non-whites aren’t supporting actors adding to the story being told about the white couple trying to navigate their tumultuous journey toward falling in love with each other. This movie is FABA (For Asians By Asians), and that’s part of what makes it so beautiful. It doesn’t seem like the makers of this film felt any obligation to explain the subtle languages, cultural references, dishes or games shown throughout the story that are unique to AAPI culture. It is a celebration of their culture and customs and movie goers of all cultures and ethnicities are invited to witness it play out on the big screen. Movies like this are far more than just entertainment. They are messages to us all about making room for people and cultures different from our own to lead, inspire and teach us.

My wife and I have never made having up-to-date family photos in our home a big deal, and as a result we’ve never been the family with giant pictures of us hanging on the walls. We have some family photos from many years ago, but it doesn’t feel right to hang pictures of the family without our youngest daughter in them. The story we would be trying to tell our house guests about our family would be incomplete if one or more members of our household were absent from all or most of the family photos.  Throughout history the stories we tell, the songs we sing and the images we display have been our greatest teachers of what and sometimes who we value. Take for example the image that pops up when you type “Jesus” into a google search bar.

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These are not the features of a Jewish man. The story being told about Jesus in the above image and in most of the images or depictions of Jesus you will see is that he was/is European. This was certainly my experience. I remember feeling like there had been a mistake the first time I saw a portrait of Jesus depicted as a man of color. Full disclosure, the image I saw of Jesus was him characterized as a black man with locs. As a teenager having grown up watching Jesus in movies and plays portrayed by white men with long hair, I kind of thought that “black Jesus” was borderline blasphemous. There was something ugly and wrong about this Jesus, and that’s the power imagery has over the human psyche. Having an image reinforced consistently over time communicates values, beliefs, ideas and standards. How Jesus should be represented in art is far too deep to cover in depth here. I only mention it to highlight how images can impact our beliefs about ourselves and others.

For many years we’ve been subject to story telling that only gives dignity to European culture. When we, the audience of Black Panther, heard the tribal drums in Wakanda we were hearing the sound of dignity being shown to a culture that up until that point had served as mostly background noise for other cultures stories to cut through. It was a moment for black people to stick their chests out and feel a sense of pride in their blackness. From the conversations I’ve had with my Asian friends, they had a similar experience watching Crazy Rich Asians.

Have you ever listened to a group of your friends tell a funny story about something that happened to them when they weren’t with you? No matter how great or funny the story is, it will never mean the same to you because you weren’t there. You weren’t in on the joke. That’s what it has felt like for minorities going to the movies all these years. Many of us didn’t realize it until we saw ourselves depicted as authentic heroes and central figures for the first time in film.

Movies/books like CRA are important because they reinforce the best values and ideas of the human spirit shared through different images. Rather than a love story being told again through the lens of whiteness, this story of love, struggle, perseverance and  open mindedness is brought to us from the perspective of AAPI culture. That’s a beautiful thing and every one of us would be serving ourselves and humanity by making space for stories like this one to help shape how we view the world. There are beautiful stories that every culture can tell us about love, acceptance, courage, faith and a whole host of other values that we would be cheating ourselves to not look for. When we allow people who don’t come from our tribe to teach us about theirs, we enrich our own lives and theirs too. We become part of their story and they become part of ours. The world becomes a little less divided and we take one step closer to genuine appreciation for our differences. Yes, I do believe going to see a movie can put us on a path to do all that, but to be fair, maybe mixed race bowling could do the same thing. I just really like movies.

 

What impact has representation in art, music or film had on you?

 

 

Jesus’ Peaceful Demonstration

Jesus’ Peaceful Demonstration 685 522 Corey Leak

 

There is an extremely popular story that the gospel writer John shares in the 8th chapter of his biography of Jesus. It’s a story that takes place on the heels of a weeklong Jewish festival. It was here that a woman caught sleeping with a man who wasn’t her husband was dragged by religious leaders to the feet of Jesus for judgement. Hopefully, you’re thinking: doesn’t it take two to tango? This woman was thrown in the dirt and publicly accused of a crime! Where is her “partner in crime” – the man?!?!?! John is a brilliant story teller. His writing has created a great tension between justice and injustice. The woman is guilty of a crime by 1st century Jewish standards, but is her treatment by these Jewish leaders just? Does their callous disregard for her humanity and blatant double standard negate the legitimacy of her criminal actions? After all, 1st century law favored men over women. How would Jesus, the hero of John’s story, respond?

 

The Scene

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As I stated above, this story takes place on the tail end of a Jewish festival. This was the last of their Fall feasts, and Jewish people from all over would gather in the town of Judea. They gathered to pray that the Winter months would bring rain for the harvest so that they wouldn’t starve in the Spring. It was a time for piety by day and feasting and celebration by night. Jewish people would spend the night in tents for the weeklong festival.  There was music, dancing and probably a few instances of too much wine leading to other mischief. The religious leaders at this festival spent some of their time teaching the Holy Scriptures, specifically writings about YHWH’s promises to sustain their crops, like in the 17th chapter of the prophet Jeremiah’s book. I imagine it to be kind of like church camp. Anyone who has ever been to a youth camp knows that over a week’s time, you can expect to find at least one or two teenage couples who wander off together for a time of close fellowship in the woods. It was no different for these adults feasting and camping together. Someone was bound to wind up laying down in a tent they shouldn’t have been in. It probably wasn’t hard for these religious leaders to find a pawn to use in their latest attempt to pit the revolutionary Jewish Rabbi, Jesus, against traditional Jewish law.

 

The Confrontation

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According to John, Jesus didn’t make a grand appearance at the festival. He showed up a little late, and didn’t start teaching until midway through it. He was the most popular and infamous Rabbi of his time, so his presence caused quite a stir. The crowd wondered if he was a good man or a deceiving false prophet. The religious leaders wanted to find an excuse to turn all of the people against him, and put him to death. I’m sure one or more of the religious ruling class had the brilliant idea that if they could juxtapose Jesus’ teachings against Jewish law and order, they could turn the masses against him. As the festival was coming to an end, Jesus was teaching from the Torah to a large crowd of people, when religious leaders forced a walk of shame upon a woman and embarrassed her in front of her friends, family and community.

In order to witness his response, they told Jesus in front of this crowd that she was caught sleeping with a man who wasn’t her husband, stated what the law demanded be done to a woman such as her (execution by stoning) and then asked him what he thought should be done. Would this holy revolutionary, teacher of Jewish law and advocate for YHWH’s righteousness condemn this woman to death as the law demanded despite her tears, sadness, and shame? Again, we the readers, are pressed to see a dilemma. There is a tension between what is morally just and what is legally just. The debate being had about whether Jesus was a good man or a false prophet would be decided by how he chose to respond to this broken woman laying face down in the dust. The trap is set. Law has demands. Humanity has demands. Jesus is set in the middle of the two. Which side would he take? What would he say?

 

The Response

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In John’s story Jesus doesn’t respond with words. He doesn’t immediately fire off arguments about interpretation of law or how wrong it is to use a human as a political weapon. He stoops down to write in the dust. He silently protests the violation of this woman’s human right to dignity. Then after his demonstration, he stands up and confronts the woman’s accusers. They asked Jesus a legal question. He responded with a human question of his own. He didn’t phrase it as a question, but it was a question none the less. Jesus said: Any of you who is without sin, cast the first stone. Which is to ask, which one of you has the human right to violate hers? There is another interesting tidbit about Jesus writing in the dust that the original readers of John’s biography would’ve known. As I mentioned earlier, Jeremiah 17 was one of the ancient writings that talked about God providing for the Jewish people. That chapter was likely one that these religious leaders would’ve been teaching that week. Well, Jeremiah also wrote in that same chapter these words: Those who leave You will be written in the dust because they have abandoned ADONAI. 

What happened after Jesus kneels to protest, stood to make a statement and knelt down again? The religious proponents of “law and order” all turned and left. Could it be that Jesus’ silent demonstration showed them that by shaming this woman and stripping her of her dignity, they had abandoned the God who gave them the law to begin with?

I suppose it’s always been within our nature to put law, symbolism or ideology before human rights. It seems that Jesus believed the opposite. Everything written about Jesus presents him attempting to teach humanity that our obligation to one another is greater than our obligation to law. Love, equality and justice are greater than Nationalism, law or order. If a person or a group of persons is being denied basic human rights, then we as people are responsible to object and to act to restore justice to those people. Sometimes objections are demonstrations that interrupt or impose on our sensibilities, but so be it.

From a legal perspective, the right thing for Jesus to have done would’ve been to stone that woman. He didn’t. He ignored what was “legal” for the sake of what was just. Today we have people ignoring what is seen by some society as the patriotic thing to do in order to bring light to injustices suffered by human beings who live in our Nation. Many of the same people who celebrate that Jesus bent down to demonstrate grace and justice, throw stones at the young men who are making a similar demonstration for the justice and dignity of a people long denied either. Time has found Jesus on the right side of history. I imagine time will do the same for the young men standing/kneeling for human rights today.

 

What is an “acceptable” way to demonstrate for change in society?

3 Truths For the Faith Community about Charlottesville

3 Truths For the Faith Community about Charlottesville 3200 1680 Corey Leak

A year ago I was sitting in a Saturday night service, when I heard the news that there had been a white supremacist rally from my daughter. She saw it trending on twitter, but didn’t know what was happening. She said: “all these people are talking about this racist rally”. I started investigating, and shortly after, my screen displayed images of angry faces and torches marching against the rights of people who look like me. It was demoralizing. If you’ve never gone on social media or turned on your television and seen images of people united in their hatred of your tribe, it’s probably hard to imagine how people thousands of miles away from your physical location can affect you emotionally. Imagine how we all felt watching the towers fall on 9/11. I felt similar emotions upon seeing what I saw that day, and I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about that day. The voice on the stage faded into the background, and all the words sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown. 

I’m sure the sermon was great. I was just in a space where I needed something else at that moment. I needed to feel like the community of people I was sitting with, and the person talking from the stage, identified with my pain. I wanted to know that even if the faith community I was worshipping with didn’t share my pigmentation, they opposed the people rallying to delegitimize my humanity. I’m not suggesting the church I was sitting in should have stopped everything and pivoted to Charlottesville as it was happening. I’m sharing what I felt as I witnessed the rally. To that church’s credit, we did pivot to address what happened in the Sunday services that followed that Saturday night. Honestly, I believe we could have done more to acknowledge it, but at least we didn’t ignore it entirely. With this being the anniversary of the Charlottesville rally, here are a few things that might be worth considering as we prepare for and enter faith gatherings this weekend.

 

1 You’ve probably changed plans in the wake of tragedy before.

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I remember exactly where I was when the events of 9/11 played out in front of all our eyes. I imagine you do as well. I also remember how the predominantly white evangelical church I was attending at the time responded the next day. Our church was in the middle of a weeklong “revival”, and there was a renowned tele-evangelist scheduled to speak. I remember feeling anxious and afraid when I walked into church that night. I imagined that everyone was feeling something similar and that despite the fact that our church had likely invested a substantial amount of money to have the guest speaker present, there would be something said about the tragedy that had just occurred. As I expected, we spent time praying for our Nation. What I didn’t expect was that we would spend the duration of the gathering on the topic. We prayed, sang, prayed some more, heard a message about what happened, and then prayed some more for the healing of our Nation. No one questioned whether it was appropriate to throw the plans out the window in the wake of a National tragedy because that tragedy affected every human being in the room. It was an attack on all of us, so we as a church lamented it.

Charlottesville was an attack on all of us. That’s the view white, black, brown, red, or yellow faith leaders should  have. Faith is about the belief in justice for all people, and when that ideal is challenged it’s something all of us are morally obligated to resist. Injustice or hatred against one tribe is injustice or hatred against all tribes. Not everyone who attends a faith gathering this weekend will care deeply about the anniversary of Charlottesville, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a moment to remember. It’s an opportunity to say: “we care, and we see you” to the people who are still deeply affected by what happened there a year ago.

 

2. Small, awkward gestures can make huge statements.

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I called a friend last night who lost his father earlier this week. He apparently had gotten a new phone because when he answered he asked “who is this?”. Needless to say, we hadn’t talked in a long while. After telling him it was me, I asked how he was holding up. As expected, he was extremely sad. I told him I didn’t have adequate words to express my empathy, other than to say “it sucks that your dad is gone”. I know what it feels like to lose a father, and I just wanted him to know that I was a witness to his pain. I saw it. I can’t carry the total burden for him, but I can acknowledge that his pain and burden are real. We had some awkward silences. I stumbled over some words of condolence, and then we hung up the phone.

Sometimes when something like Charlottesville happens, faith communities fail to speak up because of the awkwardness of trying to figure out how to say the right thing at the right time in the pre-planned program. I understand that tension. I’ve been responsible for programming at several faith gatherings over the years. I remember going back and forth about where the “interruption”  would best fit into the program. I would often forget one important thing about people who are hurting. People in pain don’t care if a gesture of support is awkward. They only care if it’s absent. You will never find a perfect fit in a program for National tragedy. They don’t fit in life, let alone programs. However, for someone who is greatly affected by the situation, the smallest most awkward acknowledgement of their pain means the world. It helps them to feel seen and have their experience empathized with.

 

3. Marginalized people hear loudly what you don’t say.

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I have a good friend whose birthday I’ve not acknowledged for two straight years. From my perspective, it’s not because I don’t love him or he’s not my friend. Like you, FB saves me when it comes to non-family birthdays. My mom saves me on family, and for two years now, no one reminded me of my  friend’s birthday. Still, it’s my responsibility to be a good friend. If you’ve ever had someone you care about not call, text or post “happy birthday”, you know how it feels to be disappointed by words or sentiments you never received.

When a POC or a woman has a National spotlight on them due to scandal or tragedy, they walk into faith gatherings hoping (maybe even expecting) to hear an acknowledgement of their experience. I know faith leaders have genuine concern for the people who attend their gatherings, but when we fail to acknowledge  trauma, people feeling it are left to wonder if their pain matters. Sometimes we fail to give voice to pain intentionally for reasons we’ve discussed above, but other times it’s just an oversight. Either way, it can communicate that whatever the marginalized people in your community may feel is THEIR problem, not one that affects the whole community.

 

Faith leaders, and all of us as citizens have a responsibility to reach out to the people in pain around us. I have a friend who makes sure his friends know when the anniversary of his father’s passing is. He does that so that we can remember to be a good friend and check on him during a difficult season. This is your reminder to check in on the people around you who will never forget Charlottesville.

 

Do you believe faith communities should acknowledge Charlottesville this weekend?

Do you have friends you could check in on this weekend who may be remembering it?

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3 Things I’ve Learned This Week From John Gray’s White House Visit

3 Things I’ve Learned This Week From John Gray’s White House Visit 1100 619 Corey Leak

I try to avoid heaping criticism on other human beings. Especially those in the public eye. It takes a degree of courage to put out content for public consumption, whether that be speaking, writing, or performing. You put yourself in harm’s way of harsh criticism from people who neither have your gumption nor ability to do the thing you’re doing. From that perspective I have empathy for the black and brown faith leaders that attended the White House earlier this week to speak with the President. Ninety-nine percent of the people reading this will never get the invite these men and women received, and especially will not receive the back-lash that they (especially John Gray) have received. That being said, as a black faith leader, I do have some thoughts that I felt I’d be remiss in not sharing on this platform. These are three things I’ve learned from the meeting, the backlash, and the responses after.

1. Community leaders have a high moral responsibility to speak for the voiceless.

I have on two separate occasions, from two different black pastors heard the notion that the clergy who attended the White House meeting failed to honor their moral obligation to speak truth to power even at the risk of arrest or expulsion from the meeting. Jamal Bryant, a friend of John Gray asked “why didn’t any of you get arrested” [to speak up for your community]? The lament of other black pastors, some of which declined the invitation, was that the pastors in the room failed to speak – other than to laud undo praises on President Trump as the most “pro-black” President of our lifetime.

Here is a transcript of the meeting. It was a round robin of “thank you’s” with very little mention of prison reform at all, let alone substantive policy changes. In that regard I can understand the disappointment people have shared. There had been a previous meeting to discuss actual policy, but in this meeting, there was no such discussion. It seems that the pastors in this room were lured into a fruitless circus of publicity. I have no reason to believe that their intentions weren’t pure in attending, but intentions won’t restore the trust of the people who are disappointed that their leaders, who had the opportunity to speak for them, did not. Regardless of what side of the aisle you draw your beliefs from, it cannot be denied that an overwhelming majority of black and brown people have felt disenfranchised by this administration. The black and brown leaders in that room said to represent those people failed to give true witness to their voices. I’m not suggesting the burden of speaking truth to power is easy. My point is that it’s not, which is why it’s the first lesson I’ve learned from following this story.

2. The line you’re looking for is “my bad”.

John Gray made a statement to his church on Wednesday night saying that he went to speak for the voiceless. The transcripts of the meeting say differently. John told his church on Wednesday that he was not going to be making any other statements or doing any interviews about what happened. The next day he was on CNN talking to Don Lemon about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEf51hJZRs4

In the interview with Lemon when John was asked if he could go back and do it all over again, he paused and said “I would under different circumstances”. So, did you go because God said go, or because you believed the circumstances would allow you to do some good? Sometimes when trying to defend something that appears indefensible, it’s probably best not to defend it at all. When we are conflicted about a decision we’ve made our defense is often confusing and contradictory. Conflicted is exaclty how I would describe John’s posture in this interview and throughout the fall out from the White House meeting. The answer of a man who is convinced that he did the right thing is “Yes! If God told me to go back I would”. That’s not the answer John gave, which leads me to believe he’s feeling some remorse over attending in the wake of all of the backlash. If that is indeed the case, then share that. We are all human and subject to believing one thing before all the facts are in. In this polarized period of American history, we need leaders who are willing to say: “I was wrong”. There is no need to double down on bad decisions, policies, or ideas, and we should all be willing to grant forgiveness for our fellow humans who are subject to errors of judgment when they ask for it.

3. If your partner has red flags – listen.  

I’ve been married for almost 20 years. It’s embarrassing how many of those years I was guilty of disregarding my wife’s counsel to me in the name of patriarchy. John Gray said in a statement following the meeting that his wife advised that his attendance would likely not go well for him. However, John said that he had heard from God and had to obey. This 3rd lesson is more of a reinforcement of something I’ve been attempting to get better at. I’m learning that when I pray about a decision and arrive at what I believe is the best course of action, but my wife doesn’t have the same peace about moving forward, I have a tie. I’m in no way saying that my wife and God are equal. I am however saying that I’m a human being who is subject to misreading what I believe God is saying to me, and my wife is an equal partner in the decisions we make in our home. Her red flags should always be considered, as I believe Pastor Gray did with his wife’s reluctance. Watching how this has all played out for John has reminded me of the tremendous value of having people in my circle that I trust to tell me the truth when I find myself believing God is saying one thing, and my wife is saying another. Their perspective can mean the difference between success or failure for my endeavors. Human beings have done terrible things in the name of God, and not one of us is divine enough to interpret His will alone.

I think it needs to be said that John Gray is one of the most influential pastors in the country, and that he bears the burden of that influence. By all accounts he’s a great man to his family, friends, and his church. I believe that the other leaders in that room are also great people. I have no issue with POC attending the White House to discuss policy and give witness to the experience of black and brown people in America. However, in this instance, arguing that we should sit down with people we disagree with is a straw man and mischaracterizes the objection of black and brown people who are let down by this gathering.

It’s easy to write or talk about what we would do in their shoes, but only those who have sat in that room know the weight of having that kind of opportunity and pressure. I confess. I do not. My intention is to share my thoughts about something that many of us have been talking about this week. John and the other faith leaders who attended that meeting will no doubt go on and do great things in their community. I hope that no irreparable damage has been done to their relationships with their communities, and I hope that the people in their communities who are disappointed in how they were misrepresented will be given the opportunity to sit with their community leaders and share their feelings.

Please share your comments below.