Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where Will You Be?

Where will you be when they come? Whom will you stand with? What cause will you defend? At the end of the day, we are all defined by what stance we take on those tough issues (racism, sexism, homophobia, diversity, etc). When thinking of one of my favorite poems “Where Will You Be, When They Come”? I think about the obvious silence from the religious community to call to task one of their own. As I watched the news a few weeks ago I heard about Pastor Terry Jones of the Gainsville, Florida calling for an International Burn a Qu’ran day set to take place on the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. I was even more surprised as the week continued that a response in opposition to this madness was all but silent. What disheartened me more was the fact that Black clergical men and women, who have never been shy to stand before a camera anywhere and anytime, were not speaking out in mass about a pastor planned event. When I thought about the planned event it reminded me of the similarity to the cross burnings that the KKK used to intimidate my ancestors. Were these still voices a confirmation of a lack of concern/respect, care or just plain ignorance? The lack of concern is stimulated by the fact that we have been convinced to believe that all Muslims are the enemy and they are the cause for all the evil that has bestowed upon this country over the past nine years. There lack of care because we do not value Muslims and only see them as “those people”and lump them all in one group. Thereby, they deserve this intimidation. Why is it that we refuse to educate ourselves on the differences that we allow to divide us on, thereby, living in ignornace? I have wondered how much we would be in an uproar if Muslims had stated that they were going to institute a burning of the Bible.

Men and women of African heritage can least afford to take on the characteristics of our oppressors. I am extremely concerned that African American ministers have not gathered collectively and called this minister out on his obvious racist stance. What happened to ministers standing on principle when it is obvious that there is inequity against another human being regardless of nationality taking place? It was not long ago when Black men and women were looked at with a speculative eye based on nothing more than skin color or uninformed analysis of who we were as a race of people. We continue to show how unintelligent we arewhen we lump Al Queda and Muslims in the same class. Educate yourselves they are not the same. Not all Muslims support Al Queda. I travel often and see how people look at and react to anyone that has the slightest resemblance of being of Middle Eastern heritage. Have we forgotten that there was a white American male that blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma? However, we do not look with suspicion at every white person that boards the airplane.

Pastor Jones stated, "We need to stand up and confront terrorism”. How is the Qu’ran linked to terrorism? Now before you answer that think of how the Bible was used to justify slavery and support sexism. Should we disavow Christians because we believe in the Bible? I think this just goes to show the Bible, Qu’ran, Torah or Tanakh can be and has been used to subjigate groups of people. However, good people/those that know better must stand up against injustice. Martin King stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

We must always stand on the obvious right side of a difficult issue. Sitting idlely by is never an option.

Boots are being polished
Trumperters clean their horns
Chains and locks forged
The crusade has begun.
Once again, flags of Christ are unfurled in the dawn
and cries of soul saviors sing apocalyptic on airwaves.
Citizens, good citizens all parade into voting booths
and in self-righteous sanctity X away our right to life.
I do not believe as some that the vote is an end,
I fear even more
It is just a beginning.
So I must make assessment
Look to you and ask:
Where will you be when they come?

Excerpt (Where Will You Be, When They Come – Pat Parker, 1978)