The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church encourage all dioceses, congregations, schools, and other faith communities of The Episcopal Church over the next triennium to commit to studying one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time, “mass incarceration,” and that dioceses, congregations, schools, and other faith communities consider using the New York Times bestseller, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness” by Michelle Alexander as a common text that invites the people of The Episcopal Church into engagement.
Some Initial thoughts – Sunday, February 21, 2016
“I want to discuss the race problem tonight and I want to discuss it very honestly. I still believe that freedom is the bonus you receive for telling the truth. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” And I do not see how we will ever solve the turbulent problem of race confronting our nation until there is an honest confrontation with it and a willing search for the truth and a willingness to admit the truth when we discover it.” — Martin Luther King Jr., March 14, 1968
In 1968, after the major civil rights victories had been won, and the old Jim Crow had been torn down, Martin Luther King Jr. warned that things are not always as they seem, and that a parallel universe continued to exist for poor people of color in the United States. He said:
“There are two Americas. One America is beautiful. In this America, millions of people have the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality flowing before them. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America children grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.”
(From “The Other America,” March 14, 1968).
The fate of millions of people—indeed the future of the black community itself—may depend on the willingness of those who care about racial justice to re-examine their basic assumptions about the role of the criminal justice system in our society. The fact that more than half of the young black men in many large American cities are currently under the control of the criminal justice system (or saddled with criminal records) is not—as many argue—just a symptom of poverty or poor choices, but rather evidence of a new racial caste system at work. (The New Jim Crow, p. 16).
Read Introduction & Chapter 1 - next meeting in March!