Commentary by Chitown Kev
The Bible is not always right,” Rev. Dr. Brandon Thomas Crowley posted on Facebook. Crowley—a Harvard-educated pastor—continued, “We do not believe that our sacred text is written by God. It is not inerrant, humans wrote it. Sometimes the Bible is wrong and hermeneutics of suspicion are right!”
Sending Black Christians into a frenzy of defense and denunciation, Crowley’s post received 1,800 comments and was shared 449 times.
While the post received supportive sentiments, the very idea that the Bible is not the pure and perfect word of God was simply too much to bear for many. There was a clear divide between the seminary-educated and those who were not. For those who have gone through the rigors of graduate education, the Bible is sacred literature subject to criticism. The hermeneutics of suspicion is second nature in their biblical interpretation. There are a set of historical facts that guide one’s understanding.
As soon as I read the first sentence of Dr. Osagyelo Sekou’s editorial on Black folks and Bible belief, I already knew that Brother Crowley had stepped into it, lol.
Don’t get me wrong I’m totally on the side of Brothers Crowley and Sekou. I’ve had these arguments a number of times with Black Bible believers only for the same “frenzies” to occur time and time and time and time again.
I’ve taken Bible classes at university. In fact, from my desk, I can see my worn copy of The Nag Hammadi Scriptures as well as the KJV Bible on my bookshelf. I would never consider myself to have a home without a KJV Bible laying around somewhere. A red-lettered one at that...
I’m simply through with frenzied arguments with Black Christians that believe in Biblical inerrancy. Period.
I do have a few rules of engagement. Here are a couple of them:
1) Don’t come for me if I don’t send for you. Meaning: Don’t come quoting the Bible on me in some sort of conversion effort or in order to win an argument. While I’m more likely to simply say “bye” and withdraw from the conversation, I ain’t so retired that I might not have the urge to wear you out in the same manner.
(But I will not ever make the mistake of quoting the Bible to my saved, sanctified, speaking-in-tongues Auntie L., one of the finest Christians that I know, simply in order to win an argument.
I did that once when I was 10 years old. Not only does she know her KJV but it’s also liable to get me physically hurt. I wouldn’t do that to any of the other hatted ladies that I know, either.)
2) I acknowledge that I was raised in a Black Christian culture, that the Black Christian culture gave me many good values, that I wouldn’t be the person that I am without that culture.
Honestly, even though I’ve been an agnostic, more or less, since before I was a teenager, I always liked church. I still like listening to an excellent choir or sermon. I can still fall in love with some physical church buildings (the church I was raised in, for example, which still looks pretty much the same as it did 50 years ago). There is some wisdom within Scripture. I still like studying religion; I would jump at the chance to go to seminary, still.
I’ve had to learn to take what I feel I need from that background and I leave the rest by the roadside. And I’m OK with that.
And much more peaceful, too.
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
When Kimberly Dowdell becomes president of the American Institute of Architects next month, her ascent will be noteworthy. Ms. Dowdell, an architect in a profession that is overwhelmingly white and male, is a Black woman, the first to fill the post in the group’s 166-year history.
African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but only 1.8 percent of licensed architects in the country are Black, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Fewer than a quarter of the nearly 120,000 licensed architects in the United States are women, and not even one half of 1 percent of architects are Black women.
Black female architects are so few and far between, and obtaining licensure is such a point of pride among them, that many take pains to note their place in the chronology of advancement in the field — Ms. Dowdell, 40, said that in 2013, she became the 295th living Black woman to be licensed in the United States.
There are small signs of change: Nearly 3 percent of architects who received their license last year were Black, and 43 percent of new architects were women.
“We’re working on moving the needle but will need at least a decade,” said Ms. Dowdell, who is the director of strategic relationships at the design firm HOK and is based in Chicago. She pointed out that it could take 10 years or longer to obtain an architecture degree, fill a work experience requirement and pass licensure exams to become a registered architect.
Yet progress toward racial and gender equity in the profession is by no means guaranteed, especially now that the Supreme Court has rolled back affirmative action in college admissions. Some say there has been backpedaling on diversity efforts that companies trumpeted after the Black Lives Matter protests.
In 1944 President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, popularly known as the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill doubled the number of bachelor’s degrees in 1950 compared to 1940 (i.e., before the United States entered the war) and allowed veterans to buy houses with low interest rates and no money down, expanding homeownership from 44 percent of households in 1940 to 55 percent in 1950. The bill prevented a return to the Great Depression, lifted millions of American families into the middle class, and paved the way for Baby Boomers to become the richest generation in American history, with an average household net worth of $1.64 million. If you are white, grew up in the suburbs, and belong today to the professional class, the G.I. Bill very likely put you there.
It certainly did for me. My father, who passed away in June, was the first Noah to hold a college degree and the first to own his own home, going back at least as far as July 1863, when my great-great-grandfather Morris Noah, who made his living rolling cigars in store windows, emigrated from London to Jersey City. Today all my father’s children hold bachelor’s degrees, all have owned their own homes, and none is at any foreseeable risk of financial ruin. Some would say that’s thanks to a U.S. economy more vibrant than that of the Old World, but before the G.I. Bill, prosperity eluded three generations of Noahs in America. So thank you, President Roosevelt.
African Americans have less cause to feel grateful for the G.I. Bill. That’s because the bill was drafted by Representative John Rankin, a segregationist white Democrat from Mississippi and chairman of the House Veterans Committee, to minimize the availability of benefits to the 1.2 million Black soldiers who fought in World War II. This was achieved by administering benefits at the state level. The worst abuses, of course, were in the South, where 79 percent of all Black veterans lived; in some Southern states, a group representing Black veterans said in 1947, postmasters wouldn’t even deliver to Black households the applications necessary to receive terminal leave pay for wartime service.
But of course the G.I. Bill’s effectiveness was hampered in the North too through discriminatory admissions policies by colleges and through redlining by banks. In New York and New Jersey, 67,000 mortgages were insured through the G.I. Bill. Of those, fewer than 100 went to nonwhites. Levittown, the most famous postwar suburban development, explicitly excluded Blacks. As one Levittown lease stated, “The tenant agrees not to permit the premises to be used or occupied by any other persons than members of the Caucasian race.”*
Cassandra Welchlin and other community activists said they pleaded Tuesday with voters in long lines at polling sites in Jackson, Mississippi to stay and cast their ballots.
They visited churches, fire stations and schools that served as polling sites, offering snacks and water and hoping voters would hang on longer. But some left anyway. They had to go to work, pick up their children or they simply gave up.
“It was definitely disappointing, disheartening,’’ said Welchlin, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable. “But it also made me personally want to work to improve that and to really begin to think about strategies to help make sure this doesn't happen again.’’
For months, civil rights groups have targeted Black communities across Mississippi, urging people to vote Tuesday. The effort came after the overturning of a Jim-Crow era law in 2020 that had reduced the power of Black voters. Though activists hoped more voters would show up and election officials would be prepared, some voters in a county with mostly Black residents went to polling sites that came up short on ballots. Some voters, activists said, waited in line as long as three hours.
In a state with a long history of discrimination at the polls, activists worry the shortage and delays – whether intentional or not – could dampen efforts to get more voters of color to cast ballots.
Still, civil rights groups vow to continue ramping up efforts to get out the vote across the country ahead of the 2024 elections.
“We are in an extremely, politically volatile atmosphere,’’ said Derrick Johnson, president of the national NAACP and former president of the Mississippi NAACP State Conference. “It is important to understand that our democracy cannot work without the Black vote. It is our job to do all that is possible to ensure voters are educated, they're engaged and they're able to cast an effective ballot.”
Virginia’s state House will soon have its first Black speaker in its more than 400-year history after the chamber’s incoming Democratic majority on Saturday chose Del. Don Scott to serve in the post.
Scott was unanimously elected speaker-designee by the House Democratic Caucus, the group said in a news release. The full House of Delegates will vote to officially confirm him on the first day of the 2024 legislative session.
“Virginia voters sent a resounding message on Tuesday that they wanted a Commonwealth that moved forward and that is exactly what I intend to do as your next Speaker,” Scott said in a statement.
Democrats not only flipped control of the House of Delegates in Tuesday’s legislative elections but also held their majority in the state Senate, dashing Gov. Glenn Youngkin and fellow Republicans’ hopes of securing a GOP trifecta.
Human rights groups are calling for the Kenyan government to halt forced evictions of the Indigenous Ogiek community from their ancestral land in the Rift Valley.
“We are calling for an immediate cessation of ongoing demolitions and the evictions,” said Cyrus Maweu, deputy director of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).
Long-running tensions between the community and the Kenyan government resurfaced this month when rangers from Kenya’s wildlife and forest services began forcing the Ogiek out of their homes in the Mau forest. Community leaders estimate roughly 400 houses have been demolished, leaving families displaced or seeking shelter from recent rains in makeshift structures.
“We are living in absolute fear,” said Daniel Kobei, the executive director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program. “The first day they started bringing down houses using axes, hammers and pangas [machetes]. They brought down the school, and on the second day they even started burning some houses. Now, they have gone back with heavy machines to bring down houses that were not completely destroyed …. They are really bringing down everything.”
Community leaders fear that houses of cultural significance may be destroyed. “This kind of destruction can bring the extinction of a community,” said Kobei.
The community has faced systemic evictions from the Mau forest – Kenya’s largest water tower – for decades. After a prolonged court battle between the Ogiek and the Kenyan government, the African court on Human and Peoples’ Rights found in 2017 that the Ogiek had ancestral land rights to the Mau forest and could rightfully occupy it. In a 2022 reparations judgment, the court ordered the Kenyan government to delimit, demarcate and offer the Ogiek titles to the territory they traditionally lived in.
Kenyans have been given a special holiday to plant 100 million trees as part of the government's goal to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years. BBC: Kenyans get tree-planting holiday to plant 100 million seedlings
The holiday allows "each and every Kenyan to own the initiative", according to Environment Minister Soipan Tuya. Each Kenyan is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, leading to the 100-million target.
The initiative is intended to help fight climate change.
Trees help tackle global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air while releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The government is making available about 150 million seedlings in public nurseries. It is providing the seedlings for free at its forest agency centres for Kenyans to plant in designated public areas.
But it has also encouraged Kenyans to buy at least two seedlings to plant on their own land.
President William Ruto led the exercise in Makueni in the east of the country. Cabinet ministers were sent to other regions to lead the process alongside county governors and other officials.
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