“The times when black women have been successful in confronting and overcoming the structural and institutional sexism and racism that persists in our society have been when we are thoughtful and strategic about speaking up. It’s when we’ve done what it takes to introduce and implement our ideas and our plans to make things better.” – Marcia Fudge – U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District
On Sunday, I watched the fascinating yet disturbing HBO docu-drama, “Too Big To Fail.” It’s about the housing and banking economic crisis of 2008 and how it was ‘solved’ by the US Treasury Department, Banks, some
Fortune 50 Corporations and Investment Companies. Here’s a Trailer I believe every American should witness this. You will get a glimpse into the high-level greed, corruption and INSTITUTIONAL decision-making that happens behind closed doors, but affects us all. INSTITUTIONAL means of, in, or like an INSTITUTION – an established official organization having an important role in the life of a country, such as a church, legislature, or in this case banks involved in financial trading. There are folks in rooms right now making decisions about which you are completely unaware that will positively or negatively affect your life, your family, your workplace, your City, State and Nation. They’re not personal decisions; they’re INSTITUTIONAL decisions that bring sweeping impact… like Flint’s water.
The movie depicts a recent time where government and business leaders of the most influential companies and countries jockeyed and jostled for financial and political survival in a crisis that crippled many everyday Americans. Most of us never see or experience this kind of institutional power until it affects: gas prices like in the 70’s, home mortgages in 2008-12, or our ever-looming doubt about Social Security and Medicare. When INSTITUTIONAL issues hit the pockets of middle class Caucasian Americans, they spur an uproar and groups like Occupy Wall Street rise up in protest.
As an African-American woman, I’m all too familiar with the affects of INSTITUTIONAL economic injustices, sexism, racism, and the like. There
are laws in the US that still impede women’s freedoms. Slavery was not just a racial issue, but an INSTITUTIONAL economic engine that upheld the wealth of the Southern States… no, of the entire Country for centuries. In the Netflix Documentaries “13th,” 13th Trailer and “When They See Us,” When They See Us Trailer, Director Ava DuVernay masterfully navigates the travesty of Mass Incarceration, a modern day slavery of economic terrorism and brutality. If you watch 13th, you’ll see the INSTITUTIONAL decisions made by representatives, judges, and presidents from both Democratic and Republican parties that created and sustain preschool to prison pipelines and the money grab of prison privatization. Your jaw will drop when you see these documentaries. I hope you’ll dare to watch them.
Into this INSTITUTIONAL landscape that primarily affects African-American young boys and men in Cincinnati strode local advocate Judge Tracie Hunter, a pastor whom I’ve known for 20+ years. Though marred by controversy, she is a strong woman of faith and a champion for black youth. We watched her fight voter suppression in 2010 to have discarded provisional ballots counted in order to prove that she indeed was the first African-American voted in to the Juvenile Court. She waited 2 years to assume that post. Judge Hunter introduced legislation that made it illegal to show minor’s faces and names from Juvenile court in the news. She also introduced legislation to keep children from being handcuffed coming into the courtroom. She attempted to find alternatives for these children to escape the aforementioned prison pipeline. Judge Hunter challenged the status quo and has withstood scrutiny and pressure under which most of us would break. For 9 years she faced this opposition as 8 charges levied against her were dropped. The one that ‘stuck’ had jury members state not guilty was their verdict, but were denied their right to be polled openly in court. It’s complicated and convoluted. I’m sure there is a lot we don’t know – as there are always 3 sides to every story. She attempted to share her account of the facts, but it was withheld by the press.
I don’t claim to have the answers, but I do know that African-Americans have seen INSTITUTIONAL and personal injustices in many forms in these ‘United States.’ There are good reasons why INSTITUTIONAL trust from our community is so low: Jim Crow, Redlining, Gentrification, Housing and Wage Discrimination, to name a few. We’ve endured as false accusers like Carolyn Bryant, the woman who lied and had Emmett Till brutally attacked and murdered, got away scott-free. We’ve watched Dylan Roof, who killed the Charleston 9 in cold blood at their church, live and be treated to hamburgers by local police. We’ve seen countless Caucasians who commit heinous crimes go free or have minimal sentences, while innocent Black boys with toy guns are shot dead, and grown men are choked out, or serve sentences for half their lives for crimes they didn’t commit. So no matter what you believe about the current case, you can understand why we might be skeptical about our government’s INSTITUTIONS. I hope Christ followers will take time to consider what might be layers of truth more deeply. Isaiah shared this about the times:
14 Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. 15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.17He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. 18He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.19In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD.“ (Isaiah 59:14-19, NLT)
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.“- Saint