In my first article, I declared that 2015 summer riots are inevitable unless prayer moves the hand of God. We also concluded that criminal justice reform is one of the bridges to peace that we must focus on in 2015. We will only have long term peace in urban America when a renewed sense of justice is restored to our communities. With all of that in mind, think about this.
This Memorial Day weekend marked a historic uptick in violence in many US cities. Three cities seem to symbolize our national woes the most – Baltimore, Chicago, and Ferguson. In Baltimore 9 people were killed and 29 shot. Chicago marked 12 killed and 44 wounded. The police in Baltimore and the other cities seem to be moving with unprecedented caution. Further, self initiated policing has slowed down significantly. The morale of law enforcement officers is at a decadal low. Therefore, both violent and petty crimes may flourish in several “hot spot” cities this summer. In Ferguson, sky rocketing crime rates continue despite greater civic involvement by citizens and a massive change in municipal personnel. Law enforcement seems to be becoming more difficult in key cities.
America’s racial composition is changing rapidly. In 2012, the Census Bureau predicted that whites would no longer be the majority group by 2043. This trend is already reshaping many states: during the 2000’s, California joined Texas, Hawaii and New Mexico as a state without a majority racial or ethnic group.
In the midst of the typical theatrics surrounding the 2015 Grammys, few may remember that Christian rapper Lecrae Moore was nominated in the category of Best Rap Performance (for All I Need is You) alongside mainstream industry heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar and Eminem. Although Lamar won, Moore’s nomination was a milestone in the development of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), which has undoubtedly come a long way since the 1960’s folk tunes of the Jesus Movement. The explosion in talent, variety and production quality in CCM raises the possibility of similar success with other art forms. Might we see a Christian film nominated for an Oscar or a Golden Globe sometime in the future?
Two weeks ago I drafted an open letter to President Obama based on a meeting that T.D. Jakes, James Robison, and I convened in Dallas, Texas to help advance racial healing in our nation. As we met we attempted to avoid blaming whites for our current problems with the police in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY. We also avoided stating that changing our urban policing conditions was virtually hopeless in this generation. Instead we entered into a solutions based discussion. I wrote the following letter to the President, which you can read in its entirety at www.healtheracialdivide.com.
The recent national crisis and racial tension have underscored that America seems more divided than ever. On the one hand, President Obama believes that our differences are just being exposed. On the other hand a few of us feel that the President and Attorney General Holder exacerbated the race problem. In some ways, both views are right. How could that be? America has come a long way since the lynchings of the 50s and days of Selma. However, we have a ways to go in terms of race, poverty, and class.
I remember seeing pictures of Fidel Castro for nearly 50 years. His image has changed from a black haired, Liam Neeson like figure dressed in combat fatigues to a wizened old man. Today’s 88 year-old Castro does not look as dangerous or iron -willed as he did in the past, but very little about the essence of the man has changed. Decades ago, Fidel Castro led the Cuban Revolution, deposing then president, Fulgencio Bastista in 1959 and replacing his government with a communist one. A year later, the United States imposed an embargo, banning commercial trade with Cuba, except for humanitarian items like medicine. Two years later, the Soviets began placing ballistic missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States; the ensuing crisis brought the two superpowers the closest they ever came to a nuclear showdown during the Cold War.