Economic Development


Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day took me by surprise. I was not paying attention to the preparations women all around me were making to engage in community service, provide child care and support women who would have to work on Wednesday March 8, 2017.

As a male, I acknowledge that we should all be paying attention to the women in our lives and to the awesome contributions that they are making in all areas and professions. The reality is that many times I take it for granted until somebody points out the extreme multitasking and momentous achievements that the women in my life are making daily.123_1

I look at the history of my family and remember that Jeanette A. Thomas, my grandmother was a phenomenal woman, She raised seven children in Cincinnati, Ohio after moving from File, Virginia. She set the example of educational achievement by attaining a Master’s in Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1959. She instilled this passion for education in each of her children who all achieved a Masters in different fields and three achieved doctorates. That passion and value of strong women on International Women’s Day is expressed by her granddaughter Dr. Marya l. Shegog PH.D MPH, “International Women’s Day is a day to honor the very essence of women, not merely for their accomplishments but for their existence and willingness to stand without waiver for love and passion.” 

The full expression  of this experience is not limited to my family. Virginia Sowell in Atlanta reflects and says, ”She’s not just somebody’s wife, daughter, or mother. She is someone! International Women’s Day is about bringing to the forefront women’s contributions throughout history that have been minimized. I am grateful for the strides to recognize marginalized people and that we are trying to learn more. Today we lift up women as humans, as equals, not as simply support to a man.”IMG_4001

In Maryland, my good friend Christine Kumar works faithfully in the church and reflects this way, “International women’s Day is a celebration of how our female ancestors bravely paved the way for us to be who God has called us to be. We move forward exercising our rights and building women from all walks of life up in this journey.”

God has created women not to be limited to the stereotypical narrow roles of being housekeepers, caretakers and  rearing children  but women all across the world are designed by God to be leaders, engineers, preachers, musicians,  business owners, CEOs, technology innovators, philanthropist and so much more. We all celebrate what God is doing in and through the women all around us not just today but everyday.

 

Marya L Shegog Ph.D MPH – Director of a Health programs, The Lincy Institute, School of Community Health Sciences, Editor of The Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Virginia Sowell – Director of Communications, Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Decatur GA

Christine Kumar – Business Administrator, Baltimore Metropolitan District, Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church

Still wrestling with a lot of emotions but today I am clear about my role in this discussion.  I am first a faith leader who is a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ.  As a public theologian I have the responsibility to interpret the present news through the lens of the Scriptures. I am an African American male who lives with the oppression and disorientation of subtle racism daily.  I have developed coping skills so this does not control me but it does affect me almost daily.  I am a leader in the African American community with a responsibility to address the presenting symptoms and the underlying causes of the current situation in Ferguson.

My current observations have been informed by countless new sources, countless conversations with colleagues and listening to various observations from random people at Starbucks.  Yes I bought them coffee but they were no shy to share their opinions with or without coffee.

Dr. Robert Franklin wrote an short insightful article that began with his reading of the book of Lamentations.  https://www.facebook.com/robert.franklin.50/posts/10152518452870949?pnref=story

“Yes… America, the crown has fallen”  says Dr. Robert Franklin. This the line that summarizes the exasperation of a country built on ideals of equality, liberty and freedom.

This is juxtaposed against this line-
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

WEB DuBois then continues this though by stating that “Most men today cannot conceive freedom that does not involve somebody’s slavery”

America’s ideal of freedom and justice comes directly from the preamble of our Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The ideals are not antiquated, out dated or out of touch with modern culture.  They are actually the foundation of our society in which the rest of the world aspires to attain.  This is the crown that Dr. Franklin refers to that has fallen in the wake of the injustice of systematic oppression within our land. Democratically elected leaders who fight for the people and uphold the ideals  of our Constitution. The mistake that many make is to make this about race or to believe that this one decision is the impetus for the current unrest and violence.

Its not about one indictment, one moment, or one death. It is about the decades of systematic oppression and racial injustice that is bound up and embodied in that one indictment, one moment, one death. Dr. Robert Brewer

The challenge is introduced with Frederick Douglass’ comments.  Whether we agree with the decision in Ferguson or not years of injustice have disproportionally affected poor people of color through out America.  Dr. Michelle Alexander’s work on the Mass Incarceration in her book, The New Jim Crow, super illuminates the history of systematic incarceration of African American men by the very system designed on the ideals of “forming a more perfect Union”.

Those who are Bible reading folk will quickly quote John 12:8 or Deuteronomy 15:11.  The Poor will always be with us but those who love  God are called in the sacred text to care for, reach out to, do life with the poor.  This is different than the current modern culture of the politically conservative which seems to be “We do what is necessary to put up with the poor but not to change the system of poverty and oppression”. The liberal political culture says to “give the poor food, housing and medical care” without giving support to empower them to change their situations.

Wouldn’t it be amazing that the elected officials from both sides Love your neighborof the spectrum align themselves with the scripture found in Matthew .  Loving your neighbor as yourself is a direct challenge to provide the same comfort, life sustaining for all who are neighbors. This is usually beyond our comfort zone if it is really going to impact their way of life. The agencies that maintain the systems that ensure poverty many times are self preserving to provide individual services rather than solving challenges and empowering the poor to change their conditions. Public education in poor communities are failing across the nation and yet charter schools in the same neighborhoods have new ways of teaching that empower the children to learn, thrive and change their situations and conditions. Many school systems have the right to veto these charter schools who are making an impact because the tenured school union teachers may loose their jobs even though they don’t want to change their teaching strategies. This is just one example of how the “agency” galvanizes it’s power that maintains the system of poverty.  Education, Economy Development, Healthcare and Justice/Criminal systems can be addressed to change the situation of the poor.  The church must learn to do ministry with the poor not to the poor. This will include moving ministries into the city rather than retreating to the suburbs.

How will the church respond to addressing the wealth inequity in America?  Poverty continues to grow, the middle class continues to shrink and the wealthy are not being challenged to moral accountability with their wealth.  10% from the top 1% of the wealthy we could significantly reverse the trend of poor education that is the root of our mass incarceration epidemic.

Dr. John R Compton was my first pastor and role model as a spiritual leader.  I wanted to acknowledge him during Black History month yet his legacy as a pastor and community leader extends beyond the confines of a one month celebration.

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Rev. John R. Compton, former president of the Cincinnati NAACP and the first African-American to serve on the governing board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), died April 19. He was 77.

Active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Rev. Mr. Compton was part of the march on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 and helped organize visits to Cleveland by King.

The Rev. Mr. Compton came to Cincinnati in 1948 to become pastor of the Wehrman Avenue Christian Church. Prior to that, he had served at a church in Palestine, Texas, after graduating from Jarvis Christian College there. During his 30 years as pastor at the Wehrman Avenue church, the growth of the congregation necessitated a move to a larger building. With the move came a new name – the United Christian Church.

After he left that assignment, the Rev. Mr. Compton provided leadership in the regional and national offices of the Christian Church. He was the first African-American to serve as regional minister (for the church in Indiana) and as president for a unit (the division of homeland ministries). He was administrator of the National Convocation of the Christian Church, and administrator of the reconciliation mission, the church’s race and poverty program.

He also served on the church’s 16-member general cabinet, wrote numerous articles for the church’s magazine and lectured at the Christian Theological Seminary.

After his retirement, the Rev. Mr. Compton served the Bond Hill Christian Church, overseeing the merger of that African-American church with the white Forest Park Christian Church. The resulting church is known as the Kemper Road Christian Church.

The Rev. Mr. Compton received awards from Jarvis Christian College, Cincinnati Community Action Now, the NAACP and honorary doctorates from Lynchburg College and the Christian Theological Seminary.

In 1988, he received the Liberation Award from the National Convocation of the Christian Church and was inducted into the Jarvis Christian College Hall of Fame in 1995.

The Rev. Mr. Compton was a member of the Walnut Hills Area Council board, Victory Neighborhood Services Agency and the Cincinnati Model Cities board.

I have felt abandoned by General Motors ever since they closed Saturn.  The Saturn of Ellicott City provided excellent service and were concerned with the care of their customers.  That is obviously not true for other GM Dealerships.

Miller Brothers Cadillac in Ellicott City, MD has the worst customer service that I have ever experienced from a dealership.  After the first time I took my car there I assumed that I caught them at a busy time.  I understand that I do not have a Cadillac but when I share with the service manger that my brakes might have been slipping, he refuses to even have the technician check my brakes.  This is how much he cared about my safety.  The Midas shop down the street checked it for free and placed new pads on my brakes.

GM if this is your idea of gaining customer loyalty I am the first to say that there is a better way.  I will now be driving 25 miles to another dealership with hopes that the service is better and the people are more concerned with safety of their customers.

Proverbs 14:29

“He or she who is impulsive exalts folly.”

Christian Stewardship Translation

The person who buys impulsively promotes a fantasy regarding their saving plan

We learned in our financial seminars last week that a savings plan is essential for everyone. The ultimate goal is to live on 70% income. Dedicate 10% of your income to tithing to the church, 10% toward your retirement and 10% to your savings plan.

Your savings plan should include six months of salary, an emergency fund, a vacation fund, a savings plan for your children’s education and a savings plan to care for elderly parents. Buying electronics, shoes and even going out to eat impulsively can destroy your ability to stay on track with your plan. Here are a few tips to stay on track:

  1. Track your spending habits for 45 days
  2. Make adjustments in your spending habits
    1. Use coupons
    2. Watch for sales
    3. Buy in bulk
  3. Write the plan down
  4. Review the plan regularly
  5. Have your prayer partner hold you accountable

Last week I went to pick up some wings from a restaurant that was recommended to me.  The experience that I had has challenged, frustrated and angered me. The strip mall was not far from our church but I had only passed the many shops.  I had never engaged the people who worked and hung out in that row of nail salons, beauty shops, delicatessens and restaurants.

 I experienced men who were unemployed whose conversations were filled with hopelessness and despair.  I found shops owned by foreigners who were not involved in the community but sucked the economic viability out of the community.  The convenience store had every brand of cigarette, bags of loose tobacco, bakery goods, candy and chips.  The coolers in the front of the store had soda and ice cream.  I had to go to the back of the store to find water, milk and I saw no fruit, eggs or other staples.

 I walked the entire length of the mall to experience one African American owned business, one organization that was empowering the community or one business that was supporting community initiatives to change the sense of hopelessness and despair.  Besides the beauty and barber shops I found nothing.

 I am overwhelmed right now with the apathy of the people in the community who are enlightened and many times empowered to make a difference and usher in change.

There are more churches involved in building campaigns to build bigger buildings than there are churches engaged in addressing domestic violence, drugs, poverty and homelessness.

 Where is the outrage?  Where is the talented tenth?  Where are the churches who care about the lost, the left out, the marginalized and the oppressed? Where are the pastors who can collectively call the members of city council, county government, state legislators and others who are accountable to the public into a room and challenge the status quo and lack of services to the people on the edge?

 I hear the voices of those who do not live confined by these circumstances.  They speak of being busy with commuting, busy with family and not willing to risk their safety for people who are not aware that they need help.  I hear the voices of the suburb dwellers not wanting to expose their families to danger, wanting a better education for their children and explaining on the pain they experience when they remember their family members still in these communities.

 There is nothing new in this reflection except for the salt thrown into a reopened wound.  The distress of feeling powerless to change the conditions and the apathy of the community to accept the conditions that oppresses them.  It still hurts. AM I arrogant to presume that I am a part of the talented tenth? Are the writings of Dubois relevant in the 21st Century? Will there always be an oppressed class of people in the US? It is too early in the morning to answer these deep questions so I will move quickly to get my first cup of coffee for the morning.

 

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