Below is a paper that I completed for the Starr King School for the Ministry on May 12, 2018.
1Barna Group, “Church Attendance Trends Around the Country,” Barna Group, 2017, https://www.barna.com/research/church-attendance-trends-around-country/.
2Christana Wille-McKnight, “The Problem of Retention in Unitarian Universalism – Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” The problem of retention in Unitarian Universalism – Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, July 11, 2011, https://www.danielharper.org/yauu/2011/07/the-problem-of-retention-in-unitarian-universalism/; Daniel Burke, “Can Unitarian Universalists Make It Another 50 Years?,” Huffington Post, August 29, 2011, sec. Religion, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html.
3UUA, “Unitarian Universalism’s Six Sources of Inspiration and Spiritual Growth,” UUA.org, February 19, 2015, https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/sources.
4Linda Woodhead, Christopher Partridge, and Hiroko Kawanami, Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations (UK: Routledge, 2001). pp 71-2.
Harlem Voices is a musical I have been composing that is set in the 1920s. Harlem Voices explores present-day issues of racism, LGBTQ issues, inept leadership, African-American military service in WWI, and racial profiling (among many other issues). It is about a brilliant young black vocalist who was traumatized by the Rosewood, FL massacre of her family members by the KKK. She is conflicted by falling in love with a white patron of the racially segregated club where she works in Harlem called the Black Jay Club.
Make A Contribution to This Project Now
I am seeking funding to complete the musical, which is, at this point, approximately one quarter of the way done. I am writing the “book” (play), libretto, and music... the entire creative product... and would like to be financially supported during the approximately 12-month period of its creation. You can make tax-deductible contributions to through my Hatchfund.org site.
I've been working hard this morning. I just stepped out of my front door to take a break and was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of our walnut orchard and the blessings of my exquisite life here!
If you don’t care to read the musings of an old black man about race relations in the United States, please go somewhere else. This post is not for you. Go back to sleep.
On Sunday, my wife Carol stood up during the time in our church service for “Joys and Concerns” and talked about a streaming video we watched of a young black man who was unjustly detained by a policeman in PA. It was clear that the officer was looking for a confrontation with the driver, who had the presence of mind to stream this stop on Facebook and to call 911 when it was clear the officer was harassing him. Carol also talked about the events in Charlottesville the previous day and how she was afraid for me personally, and our country at large.
I then stood up and told the congregation that I would never own a firearm, and certainly would never have one in my car. I also said I’d never used drugs or have them in my car... just in case this ever became an issue. I’m afraid I was a little too obtuse. Two of my fellow UU members (bless their hearts) asked me what I meant after the service. These women were genuinely shocked when I told them that I have been stopped by police multiple times in my life, that I have been provoked by them, and that I have narrowly escaped from life-threatening situations with police by finding a way to psychologically disarm them. “You!”, they both said, aghast.
Whenever events like Charlottesville occur I do what I call “Racial Calculus” to illustrate to my white friends how I, and other black people feel. Imagine that a group of 500 black men gathered in Charlottesville, and that a great number of them were armed to the teeth with automatic assault rifles, and semiautomatic handguns. Imagine they were also wearing riot gear, camouflage uniforms, and bullet proof vests. I cannot think of what it might be, but imagine they also waved flags and wore recognized symbols of violent hatred towards white people on their clothing. Those men would be exercising their constitutional rights to assemble, enjoy free speech, and bear arms. Let’s admit it... that scene would seem insanely dangerous, terroristic, and threatening to most people. But why? Why is the thought of nearly 500 armed and ideologically dangerous black men so much more terrifying to most than the specter of 500 armed and ideologically dangerous white men? The answer is that unless “Racial Calculus” is applied, most of us simply do not see the explosive reality of racial hatred, and its corrosive effect on us all.
Oh yes – and imagine we had a black president who refused to acknowledge (truly acknowledge) that black people represented by these extremist groups pose a threat to our values and our way of life. It is hard to fathom that such a president could be worse than the one we elected eight months ago... but we did elect such a president. Trump may actually believe that race relations in the United States will be improved by “more jobs”, revealing a staggering ignorance of the subject. He apparently does not understand that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (both slave owners) differ historically from the slave owning generals who attempted to secede from the union and plunged our country into a civil war. But what else can be expected from such a simpleton?
On May 23, 2017 a Stacy N. Lockett, a 32 year old teacher at the Aguirre Junior High School in Channelview, TX presented 7th grader Lizeth Villanueva (an Honor Student) a certificate that read “Most Likely to Become a Terrorist”. She presented others that read, “Most Likely to Blend in with White People”, and "Most Likely to be Homeless in Guatemala.”, among other such cruel sayings. Apparently the teacher, who is black, told them they were supposed to be funny but they "might hurt [students'] feelings." She also told the students that she did not care how they felt about the mock “awards”. According to reports, other teachers in the school thought the certificates were funny.
I know this kind of insanity first hand. I failed 4th grade in Abilene Texas in 1965 because my racist teacher, Mrs. Sojouner, decided I was somehow a threat to society. Thank God my parents fought the witch. The result was that I was tested extensively and had to go to summer school. She was investigated and was found to have failed a large number of black kids. I was the wrong one for her to have failed because the school district determined that they had never encountered a child of any race that had tested so highly. Mrs. Sojouner was eventually fired and I was passed on to 5th grade. That experience hurt me, as she had wanted it to. I got over it, but could have been damaged badly by it. I thank God for my parents, who overcame their Jim Crow era fears to fight for me! The teacher who committed this heinous act, and the teachers who supported it, are all cut from the same cloth as Mrs. Sojouner. They have grown in the same putrid soil of Texas bigotry and racial insensitivity. They should all be fired and charged with child abuse!
If you want to join me in my letters of protest to the Aguirre Junior High School and the school district, here is the contact information:
Channelview Independent School District
Greg Ollis Superintendent of Schools firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 281-452-8008
828 Sheldon Road
Channelview, TX 77530
Channelview Independent School District Board of Trustees
Aguirre Junior High School
Principal - Eric Lathan email@example.com
15726 Wallisville Rd.
Houston, TX 77049
Mrs. Stacy N. Lockett
AVID Elective Teacher
Anthony Aguirre Junior High
(281) 860-3300 Ext. 3018
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!