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Why Did Jesus Weep: Because #BlackLivesMatter Too?

Keith Magee

Keith Magee

By Keith Magee

For the last four visible years America has endured, once again, the polarizing effects of racism and injustice. Yet, instead of the perpetrators wearing white sheets and lynching African Americans and with coral ropes as they did decade’s prior, they now wear blue uniforms and use issued firearms.

The loss of Trayvon, Eric, Tamir, Sandra, Freddie, Korryn, Alton, Terence, Keith, and all of the others we name, came not because their assassins feared them but, because they believed their lives didn’t matter. Secretly, I’ve wept at my core when I hear the news that they have taken another life. Even when I’m driving my car with my 2-year-old Zayden, I pray that our lives will matter.

As the numbers of African-American lives continue to be disproportionately taken, many onlookers (primarily Millennials), have come with demands and questions about whether those in power believe that #BlackLivesMatter. And if so, why is injustice prevailing in the loss of these lives? The Black Lives Matter movement does not assert that other’s lives do not matter. It aims to draw attention for the need for understanding if those who enact, execute, frame and inform the law also value Black lives.

In my youth, every evening we had to offer a scripture, after prayer, before we could partake of supper. We would all eagerly go for “Jesus Wept” because it was the easiest to remember. As I sit most evenings unable to eat, sickened to my stomach, praying and searching the scripture for meaning, I ponder why did Jesus weep.

The scriptures have three recordings of Jesus weeping. The most notable is because he loved Lazarus, and Martha and Mary. Even in knowing that Lazarus would be raised again, Jesus’ human nature and pain mourned, both in relation to their present pain and even their unbelief. Jesus also wept when the chosen people failed to keep the city ‘holy’ and set apart from other world powers …He saw the city and wept over it. The other prominent presence of his weeping is found in a garden. Jesus wept sweat “…like great drops of blood,” as he prayed to his Father, knowing his time had come to die for a humanity that might never get it.

Why did Jesus weep? Was it because he was fully human and, yet, fully divine, feeling the spiritual and nature pain of the people? Was it from his humanity and divinity, where he felt love, disappointment, loss, grief and sadness-every human emotion that evokes tears from the heart?

One doesn’t have to be dead to grieve death and dying. Grieving calls us into an experience of raw immediacy that is often devastating. In A Grief Observed, a collection of reflections on the experience of bereavement, author C.S. Lewis reveals that “No one ever told me that grief was so much like fear.

Tears, the lachrymal gland, responds to the emotion of awe, pleasure, love and, yes, sorrow. They are the fluids that rest in the ducts that can cause you to lose sight and can run down into your nose, all because of sorrow not joy. And, when the heart weeps it is beyond the liquid into the small channels that flow into the tear sac. It is a pain that is likening to the sound of sorrow from the mothers, fathers, family members, who have lost their loved ones in the midst of these murders and executions. “I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” As an African American male, I can relate to Lewis because seemingly everyday my life is at risk. I swallow grief and fear that I, or one of my brothers, our children, or mothers, are next.

It was the sorrow of a suffering people that gave cause to ecumenical faith leaders becoming the catalyst for a civil rights movement for a “Righteous America.” These faith leaders used their sacred spaces to address the grave concerns for the least-advantaged among them. As an American society founded on a hunger and thirst for religious freedom was turning a deaf ear to the pleas of a marginalized people, certain that God’s creation suffered no stratification; these likeminded humanitarians, across racial identity, leading the charge for equality. They understood why Jesus wept, as did Jehovah, Allah, the Buddha, and many others spiritual leaders who wept too.

Recently, America lost an African-American male musical icon, Prince, though not at the hands of those in Blue. I mostly remember him for Purple Rain, in particular “When Doves Cry.” Though is it understood that these lyrics spoke to a failed relationship between two people, I purport that it speaks more to the sound of the doves. When doves cry, as they soar, it is a sorrowful song and yet in the sound we find a message of life, hope, renewal and peace.

Could the Prince of Peace be sending us a prophetic message that even in these moments of tragedy there is hope for better days? As we stand through our sorrow, will we be able to earnestly declare that #BlackLivesMatter too?

Keith Magee is a public intellectual who focuses on economics, social justice and theology. He is currently Senior Researcher of Culture and Justice, University College London, Culture; Director, The Social Justice Institute at the Elie Wiesel Center on the campus of Boston University, where he is a Scholar in Residence; and Senior Pastor, The Berachah Church at the Epiphany School, Dorchester Centre, MA. For more information visit www.4justicesake.org or follow him on social media @keithlmagee.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Employee Is Recognized For Her Work on Maternal Depression

LOMA LINDA, CA- Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Clinical Social Worker, Kendra Flores‐Carter, was recognized this week for her work assisting women who are experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). Following an examination of evidence‐based research, Carter developed and implemented a highly successful therapeutic support group for women experiencing symptoms of PPD.

“I am honored to receive this award,” said Carte r, who has been working at ARMC since 2007. “I learned through my research that one in seven women will experience PPD after giving birth, and women who experience PPD are often stigmatized and can feel shame and embarrassment.

“When I started this program about a year ago, it was just me providing the maternal depression educational materials to my patients, but now our whole team provides this education to our patients.”

Carter’s innovative efforts to educate and raise awareness also extend to collaborating with the San Bernardino County Maternal Mental Health (MMH) Work Group and Children’s Network as a means to build and strengthen relationships with community partners.

“Kendra truly embodies and carries out the mission of ARMC, and the Countywide Vision, on a daily basis, as she conducts assessments, provides counseling, and offers valuable education and resources for our patients, their families, and our community,” said ARMC Director, William Gilbert. “We believe that ARMC can serve as a model hospital for this type of education.”

Carter, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, obtained her master’s in Social Work (MSW) from California State University, Long Beach in 2007. She is currently working toward her Doctor of Social Work (DSW) through the University of Tennessee, and is expected to earn her doctorate in 2017.

The Smithsonian’s African American Museum is a “Living” Testament

By Eric Easter, Urban News Service

The just-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture is a work-in-progress — in every way. Surprisingly, this is its best asset.

In one way, that description is literal. On Media Day, less than 10 days before its grand opening, the museum’s grounds still were littered with the cigarette butts, snack bags and other leftovers from the hundreds of construction workers who put the final touches on the building.

museumInside, journalists scoured the space for stories to tell. They navigated around carts that carried pieces of exhibits yet to be nailed in and observed priceless objects amid handwritten signs whose installation instructions read “too tall” and “put nothing on top.”

Yet even with the museum finally open for business, it remains incomplete — by design. Six hundred years of African American history — and the culture that grew from centuries of struggle, pain and triumph — is too sweeping an epic to contain on a few floors. The only way to do so is to consider the museum not a permanent collection of  artifacts, but a living space that will evolve, shift, re-focus and re-invent itself — just  like the community it seeks to reflect.

The extraordinary effort to fund and build the new museum has overshadowed the even harder work performed by the museum’s curators. They gathered and edited the more-than-37,000-item collection into a coherent narrative.

The decision to start the museum’s story in pre-colonial, 15th-Century Africa involved an “intense” process, said Mary Elliott, curator of the museum’s history section. She consulted noted scholars including Ira Berlin, Eric Foner and Annette Gordon Reed to help set the necessary context for the full museum. But Elliott soon realized that a full reading of that time would be “too dense” for the average museum-goer.

“We needed to start with the reality of a free Africa and its position as a center of trade,” said Elliott. “But we wanted to go much deeper into the stories of the Italian role in financing the slave trade, as well as a more in-depth look at conditions in Europe that set the stage. But that’s a lot to ingest for the average museum-goer.”

The need to add some things and delete others at times was “heartbreaking.”

Those decisions, no doubt, will cause some to quibble about the tone, length or depth of some exhibits. And some criticisms will be fair. The displays on Reconstruction and the role of blacks in the military seem especially short given the importance of those themes.

But those arguments don’t account for the realities of a museum audience raised on Twitter, Wikipedia and TV on-demand. The tourist who tries to squeeze in all of Washington’s 17 Smithsonian museums in a few days will lack the capacity to absorb generations of pain and progress in one fell swoop. Return visits will be a must.

Still, those who want to go deeper will get that opportunity. The museum offers a full-time staff genealogist to help families discover their roots. Scholars can enjoy the museum’s research rooms. Public programming and temporary exhibits will let curators breathe more life into subject matter and explore contemporary themes and issues via multimedia and assorted technologies.

As a full body of work, the museum is a treasure. Its existence tells a story and stands as a tribute to a culture that has triumphed amid adversity. The displays simply accentuate that idea through stories that are tragic, critical, objective and, ultimately, celebratory. It is a museum about American possibility, as told through the story of a people whose American-ness too often has been denied and questioned. This museum should end such doubts.

What visitors will experience is best exemplified in a moment that occurred during one of many pre-opening receptions.

Speaking at an event hosted by Google, former Rep. Susan Molinari (R – New York), who is white, shared her experience at the museum. She fought through tears as she recalled one section that particularly resonated with her. The mostly black audience reacted politely. Many of them later said that, because of their own families’ legacies, they might have reacted differently to the same moment.

That may be what happens to everyone who passes through the museum’s doors. What one sees and experiences will be very different — depending on the history, knowledge and perspective that one carries through the entrance. That, in the end, is the true power of the place.