Rescind the Doctrine

Hubris comes to mind as I read about the Pope’s apology tour of Canada. But this isn’t about the Pope who is gagged by power and the ignorance of ages.  It’s about the dominant culture that continues to ignore the gross and inhumane facts on how indigenous people were and are treated. It’s about the Doctrine of Discovery, how so very few of us know what it is or don’t care about how it still influences our thinking and behavior.

When the Si Pih Ko stood before the Pope and sang the “Our Village” song, dominant media raced to explain that she was singing the Canadian National anthem in Cree. You can see her sing, tears rolling down her cheeks, defiance and dignity emanating from her. And the media whitewashed it as “the Canadian anthem in Cree”. 

I call hubris: excessive pride that leads to downfall. 

The Doctrine of Discovery originated as edicts by the Catholic Church in the 15th century. They empowered Portugal and Spain to colonize West Africa and the Americas by all means necessary. It’s estimated that twelve million indigenous human beings died since 1492. Unmarked graves of children at residential schools tell the story of brutalization and erasure of native people by all means necessary.

At the stand at Standing Rock when Christian clergy approached the sacred fire and asked to burn the Doctrine of Discovery, they were told “No. Because it’s not over.” In that moment I witnessed the depth of pain and the ignorance of dominance collide.

No, it’s not over. It’s alive in the trauma of remembrance and in current Supreme Court decisions. It’s not over, until we purge the hubris, or succumb to the downfall. We must rescind the Doctrine of Discovery from our beings.

What Part Do I Play?

Many are weary of hearing the phrase “systemic racism”. They don’t want to think about racial inequity. They’re sorry for the loss of life brought on by white supremacists but are not ready to call them domestic terrorists. Ok, you can keep playing your word game, but I’m more than ready to call out the disease for what it is: white christian nationalism.

What is christian nationalism? It’s the twisted ideology that arrived on these shores and allowed the attempted genocide of Native people and the enrichment of capital through slavery. It gave wealthy men like Carnegie and Mellon king-like status and continues to glorify extreme wealth even as many suffer. It was and is used to promote imperialistic wars with the claims of American exceptionalism.  

It is the thought process that disavows anyone who is different. It is the steadfast belief that white ethnocentrism is superior and “others” may harm their “way of life”. 

It has reduced a gospel of Love to a gospel of abundance and power. Perhaps the most deplorable of all, it has people believing there is nothing to be done, just sit back and wait for your heavenly reward.

But christian nationalism has nothing to do with Christianity. 

When an 18 year old walks into a grocery store and kills ten people because of the color of their skin, it’s time we ask ourselves: What part did I play in this? Is my silence worth the suffering of those victimized families? Does sheltering myself from hate fulfill my divine destiny? Or more importantly, how can I help my human family end this division we call race?

Christianity taught me about Love, not fear. It was hopeful and inclusive. Anything else, my friends, is illusion.

Wake up and call it out.

The photo is public domain from the Library of Congress.It is entitled Cross Burning, KKK from 1925.

How far have we come? Where are we going? And while the 18 year old killer proclaimed he is not a Christian one only needs to look at the beliefs that radicalized him to see the root of the disease. White christian nationalism. Hopefully White Christians will stand firm against this ignorance instead of turning away and ignoring it. Call out your pastors who preach hate. Stop supporting the fear mongering on your radio stations and virtual forums. Stop voting for racists. End this human betrayal.


It is hard for the old slaveholding spirit to die, but die it must.” — Sojourner Truth

As we witness the violence of racism creep steadily into our school boards, our libraries and into the discourse of our legislators, it’s important to galvanize behind ideals that are more powerful and more compelling. 

I’ve never been interested in fighting ignorance; I think it’s far better to light a way out of it.  And over the past few weeks I have found solace and kinship in the movement known as Abolition.

Building upon the efforts of Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and many more, the Abolitionist movement of today speaks to the heart of humankind. Like its forbearers it is unapologetic in its declaration for freedom and courageous in its truth-telling.

And despite the hardships and the cruelty that has been the legacy of colonialism and capitalism to all marginalized people, Abolition is a Phoenix and it’s on the rise.

Abolitionism today calls for creativity as we emerge from the darkness of separation. And perhaps in the most dignified of ways it calls for the celebration of humanity and insists on the importance of joy.

You will find Abolitionists in our schools, creating safe environments for all children. You will find them in the fight to replace penal punishment with compassion. 

You will find them resurrecting communities through mutual aid and harm reduction.

You will not find them in discussions on reform. You see, Abolitionists understand the phrase “None of us are free until we are all free”*, and reform is an illusive coward that allows racism, sexism, and other unnatural qualities to continue.

So, if you are looking for a bit of fresh air, I suggest you get to know the Abolitionists of our time. Dr. Bettina Love’s book, “We Want To Do More Than Survive” is a good starting point. 

  • This quote is attributed to Emma Lazarus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Maya Angelou and perhaps others. It is a common understanding of compassionate human hearts.

Nine Minutes and Twenty-Nine Seconds

The Derek Chauvin trail has begun. 

Instead of over eight minutes of Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, we now know it was 9 minutes and 29 seconds. 

We know the first two arresting officers had handcuffed George Floyd and that he had begun to plead, “Please don’t shoot me.” And that he expressed fear of getting into the squad car. 

Then Officer Chauvin and his partner arrived. 

The four officers’ escalation of force had bystanders expressing concern for the safety of George Floyd. And one by one they spoke tearfully and painfully from the witness stand of how they watched George Floyd killed that day. 

They spoke of feeling helpless. They spoke of regret. They wondered what more they could have done to save the life of a man they did not know. They recognized it could’ve easily been one of them, there on the cement, held by four men with a man’s knee on their neck. For 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

They’ll never forget George Floyd begging for his life, crying out that he couldn’t breathe, and calling for his mother.

The entire world is watching. And again we are reliving the senseless killing of a man of color by an officer sworn to protect and defend. Once again we hear the defense of fear as the excuse given to treat another human being as less than.

I can’t help but recall the photos I’ve seen of white hoods and hatred. Of whips and forced removals, of white ugliness cloaked in religion and shielded by politics and the “law”.

And I hope and pray that we see ourselves on trial and that we make it our business to not turn away. Make it change.

Say his name. George Floyd.

photo courtesy of No Spiritual Surrender on Facebook.

The Pathological Sickness of Patriarchy

Maybe its my age, maybe its being queer, I am not sure what’s driving my lack of patience with male violence against women, but on a scale of 1-10, I’m at 20.

I don’t know what the experts will tell us about the twenty-one year-old white male who gunned down predominantly Asian women in Atlanta.

He’s blaming it on his sexual addictions. Officials don’t want to believe it’s a hate crime. 

Give me a break. It’s all of the above and it smacks of the misogynistic disease that runs rampant in this country. It’s the pathological sickness of patriarchy.

And greed and patriarchy feed on power. Man camps are known to be breeding grounds for sex trafficking and the mutilation and murder of young women and men – predominantly in Native American populations and other marginalized people who live where resource extraction is big business.

OK, nothing new. Boys will be boys right? Out of state, away from their families, too much money on their hands and too much to prove…but this is where I get really lost.

Someone knows these guys. They are sons and fathers, brothers and friends of someone. Someone knows the sick propensities they exhibit. Someone knows and is not telling. Someone is letting it happen. 

And because pathological patriarchy is power based, it threads through our police, judicial, military and governmental systems. 

We are trained to look the other way.

How many reading this know what a man camp is? How many care to find out? What about the Circuit Court Judge in Milwaukee County assigned to Children’s Court arrested this week for trafficking in child pornography? A story buried as fast as it came up. 

Friends, we are way beyond “Time’s Up”.  And I am asking, where are the men and women to end this nightmare? Wake up.

For more on Stop AAPI Hate

A Wink and A Nod

Confederate flags, a noose and the cross referencing of Jesus and Trump signs were the images from the failed insurrection when five people died and some of us realized how vulnerable we are to white supremacy. 

It’s amazing how easily human beings can be led when given the dual excuses of racism and patriotism. Off duty police were part of the mob and called their fellow officers, who were there to protect and to serve, the enemy. Blue lives didn’t matter that day as one on-duty officer died of the beating he sustained. Allegiance to party disintegrated as calls for Pence to be hanged could be heard. No one is safe when the thirst for power is unhinged.

There it was displayed for the world to see the drama of white nationalism run amuck. But it’s the continued allegiance to the ignorance that has stymied me.  Republican Senators and Congressmen wouldn’t wear masks as they crammed into the safe zone at the Capitol, giving way to a rise in covid among them. And the calls to impeach are met with delusional grandeur by Congressmen still trying to sell election lies and defend the indefensible.

The wink and the nod is the way we keep our secrets.  The wink and the nod hides the insidious truths behind the façades of religious piety and a government that has never risen above the duplicity of violence and racism that was its foundation. 

It’s in the systemic corruption that allows peaceful protestors to be hosed, gassed and met with rubber bullets, while white terrorists are escorted in and out of the people’s house as they disrupt government proceedings. 

We won’t change it, if we don’t name it. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue and we need to call it out.

Inequitable Justice

When a president cannot condemn white supremacy we have arrived at a pivotal moment. When he attempts to whitewash our history by sidestepping the Doctrine of Discovery and governmental acts of racism, we must demand truth.  

When his Supreme Court pick proclaims to be a strict constructionist and pledges allegiance to Constitutional Law, many will find patriotism in her words. But the founding fathers were fallible. Their constructs were laced with racism and misogyny inevitably creating an inequitable system of justice.

When Trump uses the rallying cry of “law and order” we must recognize that the judicial system in this country has always favored property over humanity. It’s not a broken system. It’s a system working as it was designed to work. It protects wealth and maintains control over individuals of lessor means through unjust sentences, impossible fees and physical might.

Change will come when the majority of us understand that we cannot fix this system. It’s stacked against us. Instead we must continue to create new ways of restoring justice. We need to develop better means towards rehabilitation and reconciliation. We need to take the leap towards what has been called “beloved community”.  We need to seek out and conspire with others in this human effort. And we must be willing to let the old system die.

This is why activists proclaim, “Defund the police”. Defunding the police is only one piece of dismantling a corrupt system, which must undergo transformation, if we are to survive as a people.

The farce of an election will play out. Lobbyists and other power brokers wait in the wings to have their say. But it’s not too late; it will never be too late, for we the people to co-create a better day. 

It is time to end the division cultivated by racism. We are and have always been one people.

The poster of the movie, “Birth of a Nation” is public domain. The Birth of a Nation is a silent film from 1915. It is three hours of racist propaganda.

The Dilemma of the Status Quo

The rock and the hard place have us. Some are treading water; some are content to be sunk. Our love of reality TV has come to life as vigilantes are given thumbs up by those sworn to protect and serve. Yet all that is getting protected is the right to remain racist. 

Change is inevitable. Change is natural. Anyone who has lived through four seasons will attest to that, yet somehow we cling to the way we were as if it were not dysfunctional, as if it were superior in someway, as if it deserves to be the only thing that does not change. And that is the dilemma of the status quo. White knuckling and holding on at all costs. These last gasps of white supremacy can be horrifying, but they loose their grasp when I realize why they roar and thunder.

They roar because the end is near. Not the apocalyptic end that churches use to control people, but the end of an age of ignorance that allowed dominant cultures to enslave people either by chains or credit cards. They thunder because they have been pitched the idea that they are the last bastions of civilization and they are finally being given their due as important players in this game. They are being played.

And if we fear them, we are being played. Because the best way out of this nightmare remains our love and devotion to the earth and to one another. And Love cannot reign where fear is king. 

Yes this election is important, but far more important is how we proceed now and after, regardless of outcome. Put anger and fear aside and fight with determination and clarity. The history of hatred will not hold a candle to what Love can create.

photo compliments of wikimedia commons

They Are Us

I have a habit of waking in the middle of the night and tuning into BBC. It’s a way to keep a pulse on what is happening around the world. It was how I learned of the slaughter of Muslim people in prayer by a white supremacist in Christchurch.  It was when I first heard the phrase, “They are us.”

I have followed the reactions and actions of the Prime Minister of New Zealand and of her countrymen. And I have found a glimmer of hope.

“They are us.” That was one of the first pronouncements regarding the massacre. And then came acknowledgements and commitments, “We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage.”

And, “We cannot allow this to happen again.”

The compassion of the leadership is a triumph of the human spirit. It is in stark contrast to the language of division common in United States politics. The efforts of New Zealand’s Prime Minister are like balm on torn flesh.

Human beings are not designed for hatred. It is so abhorrent to the majority of us that when confronted by it, we often become numb and impotent. For some of us fear guides our silence. Fortunately Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will not be silenced.

In her words: “Safety means being free from the fear of violence. But it also means being free from the fear of those sentiments of racism and hate that create a place where violence can flourish. “

“And every single one of us has the power to change that.” 

For the sake of “They Are Us” and “We Are One”, let us stand up to hate and say “no more”. Let us find the courage, the clarity and the power to close the door on racism and fear. Let this be our time.


As they carry on…One week later the prayers continue.

Bear Witness to Good

Children remain in detention camps still separated from their families.

A seven-year old Black child is shot and killed by a white male terrorist in a red truck. Say her name: Jazmine Barnes.

A president, with a grudge, halts funds and plays politics with peoples lives…and on and on it goes.

I know many of us can no longer bear witness to the travesties. We have had enough of hatred and violence. Some of us now doubt that better times are possible. Some of us even question if better times are deserved.

But of this I am 100% certain: Today is a new day. And we owe it to ourselves, to one another and to those not yet born to stand up. There are people throughout the world – and yes, right next door – who are doing the impossible every day. They are waking up and carrying on with love and hope. They are finding the determination and the fortitude to make a better way. Some have moved towards politics, some are working to bridge religious or racial divides, some prepare the soil to bring good food to our tables, some are sitting in treetops stopping pipelines and environmental destruction, some are offering shelter to asylum seekers.

We are the heroes we have been waiting for, if we have the eyes to see.

Look to this new day. Grab the inspiration that comes – however it comes – and hold on.

Inhumanity can bring us to our knees. But it is in rising that we see we are not broken. There is power in that. Human beings have shown us the worst that we can be, let this new day and each new day bring the best that we can be. Bear witness to that. Bear witness to the good in your heart and let it shine.