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Four young United Methodist Pastors, One Podcast; follow our exploration of ministry in a rapidly changing world.

2.14 Racism, S*thole Countries, and Other News

January 16, 2018

So full disclosure right here, we'll be using the word "Shithole" in this episode because hey, if the president can do it we can too. 

The episode in which AhnnaLise shares her insights after her blog was discontinued on Pathos, the one in which we rant a bit about Star Wars and express our excitement over the impending Black Panther film. 

As we noted in the show, we're including AhnnaLise's blog post here:

Edgar Ray Killen died.  When I saw the headline, I did what all good millennials do, I went to Google. Google told me that he was the one who orchestrated the murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. The trio were civil rights activists during the Freedom Summer of 1964. There were all in their 20s. I have had more years on the planet than all three of them got.

After reading about Killen, my first thought was not a kind one. How unfair is a world where three 20-somethings who gave up a perfectly good summer vacation to fight for the rights of Black Americans to be treated like human beings were murdered in cold blood, and their murder was able to live to the ripe old age of 92? Killen died 6 days short of his 93rd birthday. James Chaney was 21 when Killen murdered him. in 1966, Killen's trial ended in a hung jury. The vote was 11-1 in favor of conviction, and the one holdout said that she could not vote to convict a preacher.

Wow.

Killen was not held accountable for his crimes until 2005. He was in his 80s when he finally went to prison for murder. He got to live the majority of his life with no real repercussions for his actions. As I read the story and really stopped to think about its implications for the value of Black lives (and Jewish lives) in this nation I saw red. I want to burn something down and start something up. I couldn't help but think about this past year, about Heather Heyer and her mother Susan whom I love dearly. Knowing what Susan his been through, I started thinking about the families that are left behind after these tragedies. I thought about Myrlie Evers, Mamie Till-Moberly, Sybrina Fulton, and Erica Garner.

I was filled with so much anger. Killen lived to 92 years old. How dare we let him? Then, a different thought came to mind. I believe that part of me that has been transformed by God's grace decided to speak up. Killen lived to 92, think about what he saw in his lifetime. He watched the ideology that he lived for, fought for, and killed for begin to die. He watched the American collective consciousness shift away from openly upholding his brand of hatred. He watched the membership of his beloved hate groups plummet to record lows. He watched the nation become darker. I mean literally darker as more and more people of color come here and are born here. He saw the nation legalize interracial and gay marriage. He lived to see the first Black President. He lived to see Michelle Obama live in the White House built by her enslaved ancestors. He saw that. He got to live with that knowledge. I am so glad that he did.

This week, the president of the United States said: "Why are we having all of these people from shithole countries come here?". That was the same day that Edgar Killen died. I wish racism and hatred had died with him, but we still have a long way to go here. Do you know what I was doing on January 11th while the president was insulting people and Edgar Killen was dying? I was buying my tickets to go see Black Panther with my White husband. Things are changing here. People are not willing to tolerate intolerance anymore. We can see the Kingdom of God breaking through the cracks every single time another person says that time is up on the abuse of women, every single time another person says that Black lives matter, every single time another person decides to step away from the hateful ideologies of their past, and every single time we truly work to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose life we will celebrate on Monday.

We truly live in the already and the not yet. As I look at the excitement in the Black community over something as simple as a movie where people who look like us, people from "shithole" countries, are going to be able to shine, I see a little bit of hope in the world. Edgar Ray Killen lived to see tickets for Black Panther sell out across the nation. I'm glad he lived to see that. One day, I want to sit beside him at the heavenly banquet table. He was a preacher, so I hope we can talk about our church work together. I want him to tell me what it was like to watch the tide turn against racism in this country. I want to be able to tell him about how much farther we were able to get in my lifetime. Mostly, I want none of those things to matter because we have joined to the communion of saints together, both wiped clean of all our sins and ready to love each other the way God intended.

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