Category Archives: Antiracism

Don’t Forget Where You Come From -Archie Roach

photo by Australian Human Rights Commission

I knew he would not be around forever.

No one ever is.

But Archie Roach endured so much.

He seemed indestructible.

Part of the Stolen Generations.

An orphanage.

Two foster care placements.

Fourteen years on the street after the death of his mother.

Alcoholism.

The death of Ruby Hunter, his wife and musical partner when she was 54.

A stroke.

Lung cancer.

Surgery.

Activism on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Through it all, Archie Roach made his way with a song.

He entered my life through the radio. Driving in the Richmond area, many years ago, NPR broadcast a story about him which featured clips from his songs.

I was hooked and began collecting his music.

His songs spoke with power and passion of this life, his pain, his joy, his family, and his people. Brutal and tender, universal and personal, his songs spoke to me.

He did not forget where he came from but he used his experiences to lament what had been and dream what might be.

Today, I learned that Archie Roach died on July 30 of this year.

I grieve today. Listen to his music. And add some more, almost completing my collection.

Archie Roach will dominate my playlists for a couple days. I will take to heart some lyrics from “One Song,” a song released in February 2022.

Thank you for sharing your gift, your wounds, and your heart, Archie.

Remember well what we have told you
And don’t forget where you come from
Mother Earth will always hold you
And you are born of just one song

I will remember.

Archie Roach. Presente!

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24 November 2022

Walking. Playing with Henrik.
Native American Heritage Day
Day of Mourning
Thanksgiving
The Prayer – Supaman
For My People – Litefoot
Wash Your Spirit Clean – Walela
Calling the Spirit Back – Joy Harjo, feat. Rahim Alhaj
Red Streaking into Water – R. Carlos Nakai
Residential School Song – Cheryl Bear
Missing You – Joanne Shenandoah
Sagan’s Song – Nizhóní Girls
Golden Feather – Robbie Robertson
500 Years – Annie Humphrey
Sovereignty Song – Keali`i Reichel
Remember – Indigenous
Nightmares and the American Dream – Annie Humphrey
Raye Zaragoza – Raya Zaragoza
Native Child – Thunder Bird Sisters
Children of the Blackfeet – Jack Gladstone
The Art of Survival – Bill Miller
NDN/Alien – Blackfire
Odana – Mali Obomsawin
Once an Eagle – Teagan Littlechief

6 Thanksgiving Myths and the Wampanoag Side of the Story

What Really Happened at the First Thanksgiving? The Wampanoag Side of the Tale

400 Years later, ‘we did not vanish’

How to talk to little kids about Thanksgiving, explained by a Native American children’s author

PC(USA) leaders continue their work dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery

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10 October 2022 – playlist two

Walking. Gym in the Apartment.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Native North American Child – Buffy Sainte-Marie
Yo So Boricua – Taino
Red Dress – Amanda Rheaume, feat. Chantal Kreviazuk
No More – Fawn Wood
Standing Alone – Buddy Red Bow
Best of My Days – Indigenous
Hawai’i ’78 – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Rockin The Res – John Trudell
We Are Here – Sharon Burch
Golden Sun Goddess – Jesse Ed Davis
2 Live & Die on the Plains – Frank Waln
Shimmer, Prayer for Cleansing the Water – Joy Harjo
Wake Up – Pamyua
Chant: 13th Hour – Redbone
Retribution – Tanya Tagaq
Edge of America – Annie Humphrey
We Shall Remain – Kaolin Johnson
Indian City – A Tribe Called Red, feat. Northern Voice
Tana’ke – Jana
Know Better Do Better – Supaman

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6 October 2022

Walking. Gym in the Apartment.
Murder of Matthew Shepard. Birth of Fannie Lou Hamer.
Laramie – Magdalen Hsu-Li
Scarecrow – Deena Rae Turner
The Fence – Peter Katz
Matthew Shepard – Heather Lev
American Triangle – Elton John
Scarecrow – Melissa Etheridge
God Loves Everyone – Ron Sexsmith
Remaining songs by Fannie Lou Hamer:
Precious Lord
Run Mourner, Run
City Called Heaven
All the Pretty Little Horses
I’m Gonna Land on the Shore
Oh Lord, You Know Just How I Feel
I’m Going Down to the River of Jordan
Jesus Is My Only Friend
Pick a Bale of Cotton
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
Walk with Me
This Little Light of Mine
Certainly Lord
Woke up This Morning

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30 September 2022

Today, September 30, the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), along with other Native American individuals, groups, and marks a National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. This aligns with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that is observed in Canada for residential school survivors. It is also called Orange Shirt Day to honor the story of one girl whose treasured orange shirt given to her by her grandmother was taken away from her at residential school in 1973/74!. The orange shirt has come to symbolize awareness for the children who died or went missing at these institutions. NABS has orange t-shirts available to purchase. Time for education and action.
Walking. Gym in the apartment.
Lost Souls – Tom Jackson
Residential School Song – Cheryl Bear
Child of the Government – Jayli Wolf
My Country ’tis of Thy People You’re Dying – Buffy Sainte-Marie
BEFORE – A Tribe Called Red, feat. Joseph Boyden
Warrior Heart – Shawnee
Apatapasiq – Mike Bern
Battlefields – Twin Flames
Save Mob – Snotty Nose Rez Kids, feat. Nooky & Birdz
open window – nehiyawak
Drums – John Densmore & Floyd Westerman
How I Feel – A Tribe Called Red, feat. Leonard Sumner, Shad & Northern Voice
Took the Children Away – Archie Roach
Take Me Home – Indian City
Spirit Horses – Annie Humphrey
He Can Fancy Dance – Cindy Paul
The Land of the Blind – Ira Provost
Why Us – N’we Jinan Artists

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23 August 2022

Walking. Stretching. Eric & Essie’s Apartment.
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
Sacco and Vanzetti Execution.
Change Gonna Come – Otis Redding
This Little Light of Mine – Fannie Lou Hamer
Freedom – Charles Mingus
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddons
Freedom Road – The Blind Boys of Alabama
Freedom – Richie Havens
Woke up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom – Congregation of Brown Chapel
Go Down, Moses – Paul Robeson
Get off the Track! – Anne Enslow & Ridley Enslow (feat. Jacqueline Schwab & Linda Russell)
Slavery Days – Burning Spear
Slave Driver – Our Native Daughters
Steal Aawy – The Princely Players
There Is a Balm in Gilead – The Florida A&M University Concert Choir
Free at Last – Kim & Reggie Harris
Oh Freedom – Mary D Williams
Freedom Now – Sweet Honey in the Rock
The Ballad of Sacco & Vanzetti – Joan Baez
Sacco’s Letter to His Son – Magpie

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Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Exercise, Family, Human Rights, Music, playlist

I Believe in the Communion of Saints

Hebrews 12:1-3
I Believe in the Communion of Saints

August 7, 2022
First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig

         The movie Amistad aired a day or two ago.

          It tells the story of a rebellion by a group of Africans on the Spanish ship La Amistad in 1839. The Africans, of the Mende people, had been illegally taken into slavery near Sierra Leone by Portuguese. They were taken to Cuba where they were sold to the Spaniards commanding La Amistad.

          As the ship sailed to another port, some of the Mende people escaped their shackles and killed most of the crew. They tried to force surviving crew members to sail them back to Africa, but they were tricked. Eventually the ship was seized by the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard.

          Trials followed. The issue pivoted on whether the Mende were free people being enslaved or not. To trade in human beings was illegal at the time. Enslavement was allowed. People born enslaved remained enslaved. People already enslaved could be sold to others for further enslavement. But the small step of banning the trade of free people had been taken. Were the Mende people on La Amistad free when they had been taken? A court decided they were, and the people should be released.

          The U.S. government, fearful of starting a civil war, appealed. The court again ruled in favor of the Mende.

          The U.S. government, fearful of starting a civil war, appealed again. To the Supreme Court.

          At this point, former President John Quincy Adams became involved. He was serving in the House of Representatives at the time. The abolitionists and lawyers representing the Mende people had approached him earlier and he had declined. Now, he said yes.

          I do not know if it happened this way in real life, but there is a scene in the movie where President Adams is speaking to Cinque, the leader of the rebellion. It happens shortly before the final arguments with the Supreme Court. Cinque is nervous. Adams seeks to reassure him. “You are not alone,” Adams says. He refers to himself and the other attorneys and the abolitionists supporting the Mende people.

          Cinque draws himself up to his full height. Speaking through a translator, he says, “I know. My ancestors will be with me. I have summoned them.”

          I had seen Amistad before. A couple times. But somehow I had missed this Communion of Saints moment.

          I believe in the Communion of Saints.

In the wooden pews of the Neville Island Presbyterian Church, l breathed in the aroma of pipe tobacco that permanently permeated my father’s clothes and joined my family and the congregation in affirming, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”

I did not understand what that meant. I could have been no more that eight or nine years old. With no understanding, I affirmed the words. I believed.

Understanding has grown somewhat over the years. Belief has deepened profoundly.

Here is the basics of what I understand.

In the Reformed tradition, we do not believe that saints are holy people. People somehow better than the rest of us. People to set apart and place on pedestals.

Saints are everyone of us. Ordinary people. Believers who seek to follow Jesus as well as we are able. Believers of every time and every place.

Look around you at the people gathered here this morning – whether in person or on Zoom. You are seeing Saints.

When you have a chance, look in a mirror. You are seeing a Saint.

When you think of family, friends, acquaintances in other places, you are thinking of Saints.

When we celebrated Bill’s life yesterday, we celebrated a Saint.

When we call to mind those who have gone before us into death, our ancestors to use Cinque’s term, we call to mind Saints.

The Communion of Saints surrounds us at all times. We may not always be aware of it, but we live and move and have our being within the Communion of Saints.

From time to time, the reality of the Communion of Saints breaks into my head and heart and spirit with overwhelming power and grace. Usually when I least expect it, the understanding that in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are bound together in God’s love flows over me.

When we share a meal together. When friends and strangers help us with our daily lives. When we know that no matter how far apart Whitestone and Louisville may be, we are tied to one another in the love of Jesus Christ.

At times such as these, the Communion of Saints, some living and some in God’s nearer presence, began to swirl around me.

          It happened yesterday as we celebrated Bill’s life. I don’t know about you, but as I gave God thanks for Bill, so many people whose lives had touched Bill’s were present. Maybe, like Mary, they had gone before Bill in death. Maybe like Malinee and Lisa, they had other responsibilities. But they were all with us in the Communion of Saints.

          Three things that I believe we should do because we are part of the Communion of Saints.

          Give thanks to one another when we can.

          The Rev. Dr. Gayraud Wilmore was a giant in the world of theological education in the Presbyterian Church. I never met him. But I read his books. And many of the people I quote on a regular basis in my sermons studied with him.

          This year’s General Assembly gave Dr. Wilmore with an award for Excellence in Theological Education. Wonderful things were said. Important milestones celebrated. It was a touching moment.

          Except that Dr. Wilmore has been dead for two years.

On the one hand, it is never to late to say or do the right thing. On the other hand, there is blessing in letting people know what they mean to us when they can hear our words. I thank each of you and all of you for being part of my Communion of Saints. I am grateful to God for you.

Remember.

As my friend and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Otis Turner says, “The Communion of Saints consists of people everyone knows, people known to only a few of us, and people whose names we have never heard but are written in God’s book of life.” In almost every area of the church’s life and ministry, we are part of a long line of witnesses linking us to the past and moving into a future we can only imagine, knowing our imagination will fall short of what God has in store.

Remain open to what God is doing.

The Communion of Saints reminds us that God’s people are an evolving people. Learning. Growing. Being changed by the Holy Spirit. Again and again, drawn out of ourselves to something more faithful … more just … more peaceful … more loving. Drawn by a God who did new things and who is not finished with us yet. We are part of an evolving people. It is who the followers of Jesus have been. It is what the followers of Jesus have done. It is who Jesus calls us to be. It is how the Holy Spirit gifts us to be. We recall the past. We make our way in the present. We look forward to what God is doing in us and in our community.

I believe in the Communion of Saints.

For all the saints and what they teach us. Thanks be to God.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Human Rights, Movie

17 June 2022

Walking. Gym in the Apartment.
Mother Emanuael. Charleston.
Everytime -Bobby McFerrin & Esperanza Spalding
Freedom – Pharrell Williams
Wade in the Water – The Fisk Jubilee Singers
Deep River – The Howard University Chamber Choir
Steal Away – The Princely Players
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child – Kehembe Eichelberger
Take My Hand, Precious Lord – Mahalia Jackson
This Is America – Childish Gambino
Too Many Martyrs – Kim & Reggie Harris
Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody – Mary D. Williams
Drown in my Own Tears – Richie Havens
Ghosts of Charleston – Marc S. Kruza
Mother Emanuel – Shirley Caesar
Emanuel – Dead 27s
There Is a Balm in Gilead – Florida A&M University Concert Choir
The President Sang Amazing Grace – Zoe Mulford

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A prayer for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Gracious God,
we confess that we have failed our
Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings.
We have bought into the
“model minority” and “honorary white” myth
while treating our siblings as perpetual foreigners.
We fail to learn about the
many different peoples, cultures, and nations
you have created and you love.
We fail to seek out and tell
the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
in our schools, colleges, seminaries, and churches.
Forgive us, God.
Forgive our neglect and indifference.
Forgive our stereotyping, prejudice, and racism.
Forgive us for making our
Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings
invisible.
Inspire us to turn around,
to build connections,
to stop “othering” our siblings,
to embrace one another in love,
and to make your beloved
Asian American and Pacific Islander children
visible.
We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

inspired by Invisible: Theology and the Experience of Asian American Women
by the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim

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No More Stolen Relatives: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People

Consider wearing red today in support of the effort to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People. Here are some resources for learning:

Here are some ideas for actions:

  • Read the Urban Indian Health Institute’s 2018 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report which highlights the MMIW crisis and the high number of cases in the Seattle metro area
  • If and when a Native relative is missing or murdered, access this toolkit on Understanding and Responding to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for Families and Communities
  • Learn more from the Yakima Herald’s in-depth series, The Vanished, or watch this powerful video by phenomenal youth athlete and WSCADV intern Rosalie Fish (Cowlitz and Muckleshoot)
  • Respond to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center’s calls to action, and follow them on social media for events and resources.

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