Sunday, 9/25/15 PROTEST – OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUNESS – RELIGION

 

By Art McDonald

Uncle Hilary & grandfather on strike  –  Favorite Protest story

 

Protest! NFL Colin Kaepernick Kneel down – backlash, anger yet support as well – he donated $1m, his team too. Unusual for athletes – benefit from system. Yet, Jim Brown, Kareem, Walton, track stars at 68 Olympics. My favorite Bill Russel – angry black/1950s Boston racism. Auerbach anecdote – Jewish but what hotel.

 

Chris Gaspar, young AA writer, best in Globe, great piece in Globe in support of protest.

 

Current protests – North Carolina – a series. Ostensibly and immediately , of course, the shooting of yet another black man. But, really, much bigger. Pent up frustration at systemic problem – racism – system of oppression of a group of people based on skin color. Progress but still problems – it’s economic, too.

Protest – most of us grew up accepting authority – accepting situations – pleasing – rewards for submitting. I only remember protesting having to eat Lima beans – going to market when friends played. Civil Rights? On the periphery – King a communist? College and Vietnam – I just watched – went in the Army. Started thinking about protest. Dorothy Day a professional, religious protester.

 

Religious anti-war, Berrigan, Merton – seminary – Prophets, Jesus – persecuted, executed – Jesus, Mercy of poor, judgment on rulers, religious and political. Played down growing up. Jesus meek and forgiving and loving. Temple scene overturning tables.

 

When studying theology, went to Peru, two insights – structural, systemic eveil, sin and preferential option for poor. Meaning: see reality through poor – epistemological privilege. God speaks through their experience. God has bias.

 

What must happen? Oppositional consciousness – I just came across this term  – protest. What do I mean. It means: “…members of a group that others have traditionally treated as subordinate or deviant have an oppositional consciousness when they claim their previously subordinate identity as a positive identification, identify injustices done to their group, demand changes in the polity, economy, or society to rectify those injustices, and see other members of their group as sharing an interest in rectifying those injustices. Go from shame to anger…it’s an empowering mental state that prepares members of an oppressed group to act to undermine, reform, or overthrow a system of domination – righteous anger.  (OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE SUBJECTIVE ROOTS OF SOCIAL PROTEST”)   All this leads to PROTEST!!!!!

 

The prophet Jeremish ahd an oppositional consciousness, fed by God, so did Jesus, sent by God, so did Harriet Tubman – allegedly on an escape another slave got scared and wanted to turn back – she said keep going or die!

 

North Carolina a good sign, the protest, a sign there is oppositional consciousness, unfortunately it is marred by some looting and destruction of property – not organized? No Dr, King?  Thought there is Rev. Barber and the Moral Monday movement which came to Boston recently. Great!

 

Jonathan asked what can we do: sympathetic to both protest and police – long haul. ECCO – has taken on Black Lives Matter – BELOVED COMMUNITY – working with community and police. We cannot deny a real problem – racial profiling. SJC unanimous ruling: overturned conviction of man because studies found blacks profiled and stopped and frisked to a much greater degree than non-blacks. Court suggested blacks have a reason to flee when police come. Police response, understandably, unhappy and defensive. Think ruling was based on biased report of ACLU. Good police. Shows how far we have to go.

 

Comic – asked 30 police forces to join him in a comic effort to show human side of police, ride with them, laugh together – only one force responded; Boston! He met and roasted them One great line: “Let’s be Honest, if Whitey Bulger’s name had been Blacky Bulger, they would have caught him a lot quicker!” The police barely laughed.

 

In Lynn, police and community came together – we heard from police who are scared and face danger every day – we heard from the community, young balcks having been stopped for no reason; a mother who cried while she said every toime her 10 year-old black son goes out, she’s afraid the police will stop him. we heard a presentation from a scholar who studies bias – we all have it – stereotypes in our heads that precede our actual experience – they are lodged there. Most of us have them from childhood. When in the Market and black kids came in my father got tense and watched them closely – I grew up with that bias. TV images of crimes scenes and black neighborhoods. To acknowledge it and talk about it and learn together. Residents are now accompanying police on their rounds.

 

ECCO met with Gloucester police – we asked about diversity – he dismissed that. The problem is training, he said. Police are trained to win. Not defuse. Training must change. In Lynn, young black man asked: if I’m stopped for no reason, what should I do. Submit, said the chief. If it’s unjust, file a complaint later. But cooperate at the time!?

 

Protest is a sign of hope for me – we need to get comfortable with it. Develop an oppositional consciousness, with the help of an oppressed lens, to challenge oppression and injustice. Our society has a great vision but a very unequal reality, the evidence is clear. The system is rigged and needs to be protested. Legally, non-violently, respectfully, yet forcefully.  Join ECCO, this Wednesday, to be part of this very faith-filled, hopeful movement for change. There is a lot at stake.

 

Melanie’s uncle learned about protest from his father at an early age. Father and son realized there was an unjust system in place, ironically under the control of this Polish immigrant who was mother and wife to the oppressed! There only option, a strike, a protest that threatened the good order of the apartment rental business. Most of us only learn a lot later or never. Protest, as Dr. King taught us, is central role of the religious community, always built on the foundation of love and justice, and the need to see reality through the eyes of the oppressed, as I learned in the seminary, through the eyes of God, who in his/her infinite wisdom and compassion has a special love for those on the outside of society and calls the rest of us to see reality through their eyes.