From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends
April 1, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry
Rev. Leah Daughtry continued, “Yes, we all now have the constitutionally protected right to vote now. But residents of the inner city – mostly black and brown – stand in line nearly TWICE as long to cast their votes as their suburban colleagues, mostly white. And to add insult to injury, the old subterfuge of the poll tax has returned to rear its ugly head again, this time under the guise of Voter Identification laws.
“Yes, we have elected an African American president. But if communities of color were elected commensurate to their numbers, there would be 12 African elected American Senators instead of just 1 elected and 1 appointed. There would be 89 Latinos serving in the House of Representatives instead of only 34. There would be 31 Asian Americans in Congress, not 14. And there would be 267 women seated in the House and Senate instead of just 100.
“Unemployment is 5% across America; for African Americans, it is 8.3% and for teenagers, it is a stunning 16%. And these figures only include people who are actually still looking for work. It does not includes those who have completely given up looking for jobs.
“And in impoverished communities and communities of color, the brunt is felt most deeply … from health disparities to health care disparities … We are losing our businesses and our homes at a faster rate than any other community in the nation. And our children lag behind in reading, mathematics, and graduations.
For these communities, the classroom to prison pipeline is not just something they read about in the paper. In the African American community alone, there are more AA men imprisoned today than there were in slavery in 1860.
“In 2011, the number of blacks under 22 killed by guns was more than triple the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The number of black children killed by gunfire since 1979 is over 13 times more than the number of blacks lynched between 1882 and 1968. The gap between the haves and the have nots grows wider and wider every day as corporate CEOs earn millions of dollars in bonuses, while their workers daily engage in the fight for a $15 minimum wage.
“A quick read of any daily newspaper or just five minutes watching the news or listening to the radio, or even just a few minutes talking to people on the train or in the office, will confirm what we already know in our hearts: we are living in difficult times … Yes, the economy is rebounding, the stock market is regaining steam, and consumer confidence is on the rise. At least in some communities. But for others, well, the economy is shaky, their homes are in jeopardy, their neighborhoods are unsafe, their water is undrinkable, and their children face uncertain futures. These are the neighborhoods where WE come from. That some of you represent.
“These are the people who wait in earnest still for their turn at the American Dream. They wait for promise of America to become the practice of America.
Until this happens, we must acknowledge as truth that old adage: We are only as strong as our weakest link. Until then, we must recognize that our nation and our communities and our people stand at the edge of despair, in a place of brokenness and hopelessness.
“The promises made to us by our Constitution – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – have been breached. Broken at every turn, broken at every level. The breach of these promises shows its impact on every level – national, local, and personal. Yes, our nation stands at a crossroads of breached promises and unrealized dreams…
“We didn’t make these decisions, but we feel the impact of these decisions in our lives even today. And lest we blame present day inequities and disparities on institutions gone wrong, let’s remember that injustice wears skin. It is human.
“Two things I want you to notice from the passage today: First: God asks us to return to spiritual values and a deepening of our relationship with God’s Own Self, by whatever Name we call Him – or Her. This might be interesting to some that God’s answer to societal, social, and personal problems is that we intensify our spiritual yearning. That we reach out to God, by whatever name we call Him or Her, in fervor and with determination.
“He calls us to fast … to turn down our plate, to ignore our natural physical desire, and to use that energy to seek Him instead. But He doesn’t just call for any old kind of fast … this fast is special … Turn down your plates, yes. Turn to God, yes. But more: while you are fasting, feed the hungry.
While you are praying, take care of the sick.
While you are worshipping, nurse the elderly.
While you are praising, care for the weak and the infirm.
While you are loving God, love your neighbor.
God makes clear here that it is not enough to sit in our hallowed temples or at our private altars and pray for the less fortunate and send good thoughts to the disadvantaged. No, God expects us to DO something. To not just talk about it, but to be about it. In this the love of God is made manifest, through our demonstrated love for our brothers and our sisters.
“It is important for us to note that the two go hand in hand. The spiritual quest is joined to social action. God says that to truly experience His presence, to truly have relationship with him, our spiritual quest, our spiritual yearning must include the outward manifestation of God’s love through our relationship with our brothers and sisters.
“Second: Once we have done this: If we do this, if we fast, if we seek God fervently, if we strengthen our relationship with God our Creator AND if we demonstrate this through our social witness THEN WE will be empowered to repair the breach.
THEN we will be empowered to restore hope and prosperity.
Then WE will have authority to rebuild brokenness and broken places.
Then WE will have ability to restore cities and communities.
Then WE will have authority to repair marriages and family relationships.
Then WE will experience healing and peace and joy and abundance in our own lives and in the lives of our neighbors.
“God is looking for somebody who will love all and love hard, even when, especially when it’s not comfortable. Or profitable. Or easy. Or expected. For somebody who love the unlovable and the unforgiveable, who will look past fault and see need … just as He did, when He looked from His high heaven, across the annals of time and space, and saw you and saw me, in the wretchedness and hopelessness of our sin … And He chose to love us anyway, in spite of ourselves, in spite of our faults and foibles, in spite of our weaknesses and challenges.
“And because of His great love for us, he looked beyond our fault; He saw our need, and He made the monumental, sacrificial, nonsensical, crazy decision to send His son, His only Son, to pay the price on the cross of Calvary for our waywardness, for our wretchedness, for our sin … just so that He, the Creator God of the Universe could spend eternity with us, his flawed creation, just because He loves us so.”
END OF SERMON
… to be continued.