Welcome to Social Justice Junkie! On the banner of this site, the Raven perched on the left limb of “The Hanging Tree” is my friend and confidant. His name is The Black Rascal. He sits at dusk on the limb as the day changes into night. He watches the horizon, sees beyond the obvious, and loudly caws in the face of injustice. I will consult with him on issues of equity and fairness; together he and I will create conversations, responses, comments, and arguments regarding social justice. We listen to the language of politicians, news analysts, presidential debates, communities, or any source speaking to or about issues of social justice.
Why am I interested in the pattern of injustice? My life has been an expedition of watching men who were called leaders in their communities. Something in me said, “hogwash.” Since then, I have been formally studying leadership and justice believing the two are inextricably connected.
The Hanging Tree is a real tree located near the cotton plantation where I was born: Coahoma County, Mississippi. The picture was taken four years ago when I took my four sons and my nephews and nieces to the tree. The Hanging Tree is not of yore; it is a symbol, a reminder, a woody perennial plant from which “strange fruit” hanged from its limbs from time to time. It was a tool for the Grand Wizards, cotton plantation owners, and other white supremacists of the great state of Mississippi, a tool typically used at night to punctuate the life of an innocent, helpless, human creature—a Black man. Mississippi led the nation in hangings through the 1930s and into the 1960s. Often hangings were attended by audience numbering from 300 to 1000, cheering and snacking on picnic treats, “treats like deviled eggs, lemonade, and whiskey in a festive atmosphere.” That very tree has been a space for the joy of people as they watched murder and tears of tragedy for hanged men’s families who would dare to expose their pain. This was leadership, they told me and my young person was not having it!
With one nickel, one dime, and a penny in my pocket, I walked away from that plantation. I was 13, illiterate, somewhat scared, not knowing where I was headed. My personal story will unfold in the blog posts through examples and stories. Because I was alone out in the world at a young age, I have made fear and ambiguity my friends; they are tools for survival; they are sources of information, especially positive fear. You will find more about me under the “about” tab.
This Blog: My intention for this blog is to provoke the heart. Without provocation, we all seem to be too comfy, too satisfied, and not sure what to do. Since this blog will focus on social justice, I invite you to argue, question, comment, and simply join the conversation. The first conversation is about a statement heard almost daily from presidential candidates and other political sources: “Let’s take America back!” Take America back from whom? The black family in the White House? The Native Americans who were here first? The Chinese—America’s bankers? And back to where? to the Jim Crow South? “ to White Only” signs? To fire hoses ripping people’s hair out, slamming them against buildings? To German Shepherd dogs biting people’s flesh? hangings, beatings, drowning, castrations—with impunity? Does it mean take America back to the Viet Nam War that was based on a lie about an attack in the Tonkin Gulf? a war that cost some 40,000 American lives? a war where 3,000,000 Vietnamese lost their lives? a war that polluted much of their agricultural land due to Agent Orange, Agent Blue, and other agents? The Iraq War was also based on a lie. Some 320,000 Americans returned with brain injuries. More than 4,000 killed. More than 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives—some 80% were innocent civilians. Were there weapons of mass destruction? What about going back to pre 9-11? Do we want to go back, and to where? What exactly does it mean: “Let’s take America back”?
Mind you, social justice is about liberty, equity, fairness, and mainly how we treat each other. It’s about sharing pleasure and pain equitably. So jump on the weathered wings of my friend the Black Rascal and we can look at this Country with the rowdy, cawing, raven at the point.
Please share with me, “What’s got your feathers ruffled?”