For me to join the masses right now and voice “I am Trayvon Martin” would be presumptuous for an old white guy to say.  I cannot know what it’s like to be under constant surveillance and suspicion just for my skin color.  I have witnessed how some white folks watch black folks with automatic suspicion anticipating violence or stereotypical behaviors.

I’ve also witnessed racial violence, and both personally and historically the worst of it has always been from white folks – from the overt violence of beatings and murders (claiming self-defense) to the institutional discrimination perpetrated by those holding disproportionate power.

We are over forty years removed from the civil rights movement.  We are in a different era, however tragically with similar outcome.  Violence and fear build up on all sides, polarizing and feeding a vicious cycle.

The fact that neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman is still walking free after murdering young, unarmed Trayvon just because he was black is a clear illustration of the persistence of American racism.  This is an outrageous insult especially to African-Americans, but also to anyone who believes in equality and justice.

It has been over 25 days since this incident and I can only hope and pray that after gaining national attention that a thorough investigation is carried out with impartiality and integrity.

“Martin was shot in Sanford, Florida, nearly a month ago after a confrontation in a gated community with a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman maintains he shot Martin in self-defense, and a Florida self-defense law has so far let Zimmerman remain free.  But Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him when it happened, says Zimmerman was the aggressor.  Before he shot Martin, Zimmerman called 911 and told an operator an unfamiliar African-American was in the neighborhood. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to stop following him.”  – Source: http://www.cbsnews.com

Advertisements

The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  He is even more delighted when we turn inward and destroy ourselves.  Heighten those facts with the victim being a person in leadership with the ability to transform others.  I have become aware of at least three tactics used to destroy the leader within.

The first way to destroy our leadership potential is when we begin to think those we lead exist to serve us.  As a servant leader, we exists to serve those we lead.  As Transformational Leaders, we want to demonstrate extraordinary and passionate servant leadership focused on helping every member of the group succeed.  Being a transformative leader is not about telling people what to do; it’s about exemplifying what we are asking our followers to do.

The second way to destroy our leadership potential is to surround ourselves with weak “yes” people.  If we don’t have someone on our leadership team with authority to correct or challenge us, we can easily become a self-absorbed, authoritative leader.  Our leadership teams must be composed of strong, courageous, gifted, humble leaders who will speak the truth to us.

The third way to destroy our leadership potential is to stop learning and developing as a leader.  As leaders, we are in a role to reproduce who we are in those we lead.   If we don’t like the culture of our company, organization, or school we should not look around at others to blame.  

As the leader, we often have created, through our leadership, what we perceive as a problem.  As we grow and develop as healthy leaders, our influence will go viral throughout the organization we lead.  

The opposite is true as well.  Unhealthy leadership can go viral throughout the organization just as easily.  The title and hook from one of my favorite Ice Cube rap songs is very good counsel for leaders, “You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.”  As transformational leaders, let us replenish ourselves regularly with the same hope, compassion and justice we need to reproduce in those we serve.

by Carey Casey http://fathers.com/what-mlk-taught-me-about-how-to-be-a-dad

“We don’t take black money.”

Those were the cruel words my father-in-law, Dr. Little, heard when he was a young man at a public golf course in 1959.

“Good,” he responded.  “Because money is green.”

He left his cash on the counter, turned around, and walked out the door to go play a round of golf.

Later, he and his friends were escorted away by police for playing on a “whites only” course. Rather than exploding into a violent rage, as many others would have done, Dr. Little stayed calm and held his head high during his arrest.

That highly publicized event and his example of a dignified man were instrumental in the future of the golf course, which would be integrated a few years later.

On MLK Day, I find myself reflecting on my father-in-law’s story.  I am also reminded that Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech was about being a father.  It was about envisioning the future he wanted for his children, and then working to make that dream a reality.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he said.

We can all learn something from Dr. King, Dr. Little, and Championship Fathers across the globe …

More important than a man’s circumstances—his race, his socioeconomic status, his custodial or marital situation—is the way in which he handles his circumstances and envisions the future.

Do you model self-control?  Do you remain calm and rational, even when others are becoming bitter … perhaps even violent?  Can you hold your head high because you know you are acting like the dignified man you want your children to see?  Do you communicate to your children that the world is a good place and that the future is bright and colorful?

Or do you act as though the world is a bleak place to live?

When I think about what other fathers—black, white, Asian, Latino, poor, rich, married, divorced—have been through, I am motivated to hold the mantle just as high and to walk with dignity.

I am reminded to be mindful about what my children see through my eyes and how they envision the future.

What are your deepest longings for the world in which your children grow up?  How do you want them to see you?  The future?

Let this holiday be not just about civil rights, but also about Championship Fathering.  Tell your children what you dream for them.

My dad was there for Dr. King’s speech in Washington, D.C., August 1963.  Years later, I said to my dad, “I wish I could have been a grown-up back in 1963, when all that was happening with civil rights.”

My dad said, “No, Son, you’re going to be part of something even greater.”

Today, I’m convinced he was right.

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need.

For many years as the Christmas holidays are approaching, I have often had the privilege and opportunity to speak with groups of young people involved in a youth outreach or in youth groups.  With the increasing commercialization of Christmas, it is a welcomed occasion to remind and discuss the “reason for the season” as we like to say.

It is a researched fact that the average attention span of teenagers is to be right about 12.5 minutes (for adults it is 15-20 minutes).  With that fact in mind, I have always known it to be important to grab attention, spark curiosity and be as relevant as possible within that short timeframe.

Young people often like to “rep” where they are from geographically in their cities so as I researched where the promised Messiah was born, I learned that Bethlehem was a small village five miles south of Jerusalem.  My friends in Chicago especially appreciate the title I created, “South side Messiah.”  Now that you have read this far, I share a few thoughts about this Messiah.

This miraculous child anointed by God to save human-kind is to establish a throne as the King and the Messiah.  The wise men who were seeking to worship the King went to Jerusalem first thinking it would be the city where the new kingdom would be established.  Think about it… if that were to be the case, the magi would have been the only ones who could have visited and worshiped the newborn King.  The shepherds and the lowly would have been forbidden to enter the gates of the palace and not allowed to see the Son of God.  

It had to be this way because the Good News was being delivered to everybodyeverywhere.  What an incredible moment it must have been!  All of the heavens celebrate to see God’s plan of love and salvation unfolding in this south side village of Bethlehem.   The new born King was not born in a palace, but in a stable; laid not in a crib for royalty, but a manger; dressed not in fine, princely clothing, but in swaddling rags.

The manger illustrates God’s affinity for the poor and the lowly.  The King of Kings was born into a condition that many of our young people and their families identify with today.  A condition of poverty and it could not have been any other way.  This poor and ordinary birth was an indication of the spiritual poverty required within the hearts of Christ followers to come.

It is those who know their own internal poverty who are the closest to God’s heart.  It is the religious, the self-important and puffed up that are most resistant to Christ… most resistant to a “South side Messiah”.  Jesus told us it is the simple, the childlike, and the weak who are closest to the kingdom of God (see Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:15; Luke 9:46-48).

The Messiah came to knock down barriers to God not raise them. The mystery of the King of Kings born in a lowly manger is simple yet profound. Out of a humble manger in the little town of Bethlehem came the greatest love man has ever known.  The Messiah born in that indistinct setting still touches and changes people 2,000 years later.

Closing the Achievement Gap – NGA Center for Best Practices – www.subnet.nga.org/educlear/achievement

School reform has been a top priority for governors and other state policymakers since the mid-1980s. This movement has enjoyed many successes, but significant challenges remain.

In this policy primer, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices explores a key education-policy challenge facing states today: the achievement gap. We discuss the history and nature of this problem, state efforts to close this gap, possible state-level strategies and solutions, and pitfalls for policymakers to avoid.

What is the achievement gap?

The “achievement gap” is a matter of race and class. Across the U.S., a gap in academic achievement persists between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. This is one of the most pressing education-policy challenges that states currently face.

New urgency at the federal level

Recent changes in Federal education policy have put the spotlight on the achievement gap. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires states to set the same performance targets for children:

  • From economically disadvantaged families
  • With disabilities
  • With limited English proficiency
  • From all major ethnic and racial groups

Within a school, if any student subgroup persistently fails to meet performance targets, districts must provide public school choice and supplemental services to those students – and eventually restructure the school’s governance. This is required even if the school performs well overall.

In other words, schools now are considered successful only if they close the achievement gap. Many schools are struggling to meet this benchmark.

Measuring the achievement gap

There are several ways to measure the achievement gap. One common method is to compare academic performance among African-American, Hispanic, and white students on standardized assessments.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that reading scores for 17-year-olds narrowed dramatically for both African-American and Hispanic students from 1975 through 1988. From 1990 to 1999, however, these gaps either remained constant or grew slightly in both reading and mathematics.

Looking at the NAEP data, the Education Trust concluded that, “By the time [minority students] reach grade 12, if they do so at all, minority students are about four years behind other young people. Indeed, 17 year-old African American and Latino students have skills in English, mathematics and science similar to those of 13-year-old white students.”

Another way to measure the achievement gap is to compare the highest level of educational attainment for various groups. Here too there are gaps at all levels.

Hispanic and African-American high school students are more likely to drop out of high school in every state. Of these high school graduates, college matriculation rates for African-American and Hispanic high-school students remain below those of white high-school graduates – although they have risen in recent years. Furthermore, of those students enrolling in college, Hispanic and black young adults are only half as likely to earn a college degree as white students.

Evidence of progress

Despite these challenges, several states have demonstrated that the achievement gap can be reduced – if not entirely closed. For instance, according to the Education Trust:

  • Texas: Here, NAEP writing scores for eighth-grade African-Americans are equal to or higher than the writing scores of white students in seven states.
  • Virginia: This state boasts one of the nation’s smallest achievement gaps between whites and Hispanics. Here, eighth-grade Hispanic students had the highest NAEP writing scores for Hispanic students in any state.
  • Department of Defense (DOD) schools: Despite high mobility, minority students in DOD schools do better on NAEP than their counterparts, yielding a smaller achievement gap. Fourth-grade white students in DOD schools outscored their African-American counterparts by an average of 17 points on the NAEP reading test – a considerably smaller gap than the national average of 32 points.

What some states are doing

Several states have initiated various strategies to alleviate the achievement gap. For instance:

  • Texas: This state’s accountability system requires schools to show each year a minimum proficiency level (percent proficient) in each student subgroup. In the five years since this legislation was enacted, the percentage of African-American students passing statewide exams rose by 31%, and the percentage of Hispanic students passing the exam rose by 29%. Meanwhile, the percentage of white students passing the exam grew by only 18%. This means the achievement gap in Texas closed by 13% and 11% for African-American and Hispanic students, respectively.
  • North Carolina: Governor Michael Easley has appointed an Education First task force to examine best practices from high-performing schools, in order to learn how to close the achievement gap. The goal of state education leaders is to eliminate the achievement gap by 2010.
  • Missouri: Here too, a state task force on K-16 issues released a report early in 2002 which concluded that improving teacher quality is the single most important factor in eliminating the achievement gap. The report recommends raising teacher quality through increased accountability, better understanding of urban issues, and financial incentives for teachers in low-performing schools.

In addition to such comprehensive strategies, states also can take many steps within their current policies to reduce persistent gaps in student academic achievement.

Closing the Achievement Gap
NGA Center for Best Practices
Hall of States, 444 N. Capitol St., Washington, D.C. 20001-1512

“For all of the charitable institutions that we’ve seen in the last century, these things do not account for the rise out of poverty of the poorest of the poor… what accounts for this is enterprise – the application of human intelligence, of human action, of human will, of ingenuity into the economic sphere.”  -Rev. Robert Sirico

Enterprise and Wealth Creation

The experience of the last 200 years demonstrates that living standards can be raised even as population density rapidly increases. Innovation and entrepreneurship can and do create new wealth for both the rich and the poor. There are, in other words, enterprise solutions to poverty.

Enterprise can spur wealth creation in several ways. Perhaps the most obvious is through invention, as with the invention and dissemination of the steam engine, or when someone discovers a new use for a natural resource. Oil was little more than a sticky annoyance until inventors figured out how to use it to fuel engines. Telecommunication lines required expensive copper until inventors figured out how to use cheap and abundant sand to produce fiber optic lines.

A less obvious way that business enterprise boosts the rate of wealth creation is through division of labor. At its best, this process frees individuals to focus on jobs that they are especially suited and trained for.

In Mad About Trade, Daniel Griswold uses World Bank figures to summarize the extraordinary progress that the world has made against poverty. For all of human history until 1800, the vast majority of the world’s population lived on a subsistence income. As gains from invention, the division of labor and global trade increased, the proportion of the world’s population living in dire poverty halved by 1950. Between 1980 and 2005, the proportion of the world’s population living in dire poverty halved again. That these improvements came during periods of significant population growth indicates that the world’s workers had become rapidly more productive.

Wealth Creation in Developing Nations

Development economists increasingly are focusing on encouraging wealth-generating enterprise as the most sustainable method for countries to move from poverty to prosperity. Such efforts are moving forward along several paths, including microfinance, angel investing in small-to-medium size enterprises; and efforts to reform government and lower trade barriers. Churches are also playing a role in such work by supporting microfinance efforts and through efforts at moral formation and cultural transformation, which in turn helps entrepreneurs in the developing world realize their full potential.

Business Enterprise as a Worthy Calling

Many view business enterprise as greed-based, an attitude that prevents many people from supporting and encouraging enterprise solutions to poverty. In an effort to remove this obstacle, champions of enterprise solutions to poverty note that greed exists in every profession, and that entrepreneurs need not be greedy in order to start and run a successful business. An entrepreneur might be motivated by greed; but she also may be motivated simply by a desire to make a better product, or to provide better opportunities for his or family and community. Labor directed toward the production of something that benefits other people is a worthwhile endeavor. Through such work, people find fulfillment and contribute to the common good.

The Role of Government in Enterprise

The idea that government is the primary source of wealth is mistaken.   The experience of Communist economies in the twentieth century demonstrated that, while a domineering state could accelerate industrial development in some cases, it could do so only at immense human cost and at an immense cost to long-term development.

At the same time, government does have a crucial role in the process of wealth creation. Establishing the consistent rule of law where property is protected and contracts enforced is a necessary condition for thriving businesses and the economic growth they bring. When government is riddled with corruption, enacts excessive levels of taxation, or imposes excessive regulatory requirements, business enterprise is stifled and the creative potential of a nation’s citizens remains largely untapped. In sum, governments promote wealth creation by promoting justice and protecting economic freedom.

See: http://www.povertycure.org – Advancing Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty

In 1997 a little movie about a big ship that sank grossed several billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts. It told the story of Jack and Rose, members of two different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

At the end of the film, Old Rose recalled that hundreds of people drowned the night the Titanic went down, but only one of the twenty lifeboats in the water had a captain courageous enough to navigate through the bodies and look for survivors.

Titanic tragedies occur in our underserved communities every day. Many people find themselves drowning in poverty, drugs, alcoholism, abusive relationships, teen pregnancy, and violent crime. Yet how many Americans spent $8 plus to watch Titanic in a theater, but would never consider boarding the lifeboat that goes back? Indeed, the majority of Americans choose at best to ignore, and at worst to fear or disdain inner-city areas and their residents.

When drop-out rates soar and standardized test results plummet, when crime rates thrive and broken homes abound, ambitions shatter and hope dissolves. The result: a generation of kids having kids, mistreating kids, and sometimes killing kids. That generation will either drown or survive by learning to excel in the face of adversity.

We need to fill our lifeboats with compassion, hope and justice; return and search for survivors! Each of us are the captain of our own ship. Insist that your lifeboat not abandon the underserved like the nineteen who abandoned Titanic and its victims.

By  June 22, 2011 / http://www.urbanfaith.com

It had been a long day. Not long because I had crammed one activity after another into a very small window of time, but long in the tangible way I had felt every hour pass. Even though I arrived late to pick up my son from track practice, his older brother and I ended up having to wait for him to come out of the building. As he opened the van door, pitched his backpack into the van, and hopped onto the seat, I skipped my customary “Hi, how was your day” greeting. My mind was too harried to bother with perfunctory courtesies.

I swerved into the exit lane of the school driveway, but just then a man walking alongside a bicycle stepped into the crosswalk. He appeared to be talking to himself. At the precise moment when my car stopped to wait for him to pass, he turned and saw me. Now he was coming back toward the van. Oh no, not today, I thought. But yes, today was the day, and it has now become to me an act of mercy and life-altering grace that I will never forget.

I rolled down my window, lowered the radio volume so he wouldn’t hear the Christian music playing, and fixed my face with an impassive look that I hoped would indicate an absence of hostility but also a need to finish quickly whatever our interaction would be.

When he came to the window, I was expecting him to start explaining what he needed. But instead, he handed me a piece of notepaper that I could see was about half full of writing. As I started to read, he began saying something that I couldn’t quite make out, but I could tell he was probably hearing impaired. His note basically related that he was new in town, didn’t have a place to stay, had no friends or family in the area, and hadn’t eaten in three days. He concluded with a simple request for money to buy food.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the experience, I realize that should have been my first clue that something unexpected was about to happen. Even with all his apparent needs—without a home, physical and perhaps cognitive impairments, hunger, no family—he had narrowed his request down to one thing: I’m hungry. Can you help me get some food? I see this now for what it was: raw humility.

I looked up from the note and explained that I didn’t have any cash. Usually I at least have some loose change in my ashtray or the well in the driver side door, but not today. So being satisfied that I had dispatched my obligation as best I could, I apologized for being unable to help and began rolling my window back up. Unlike other people in his situation I’ve met before, he didn’t look angry, nor did he become aggressive. He took the note back from me, smiled, and started walking back in the direction he was originally going.

As I pulled out onto the road, I said to my sons, “I really need to start carrying some cash so I can help when situations like this come up.” They both mumbled, “Yeah,” and I could hear in their voices that surly cynicism people get when they hear someone say something that they knew would quickly be forgotten. They were right. I had said this before.

But this time it felt different.

Continuing in the vein of my day, I started mentally processing what had just happened. Unsolicited, I heard and felt God’s whisper in my heart, saying, “You don’t have any cash, but you can still give him something to eat.”

Duh, of course … I did have my debit card! In a flash, it hit me with such intensity that it came bursting out of my mouth without me really intending it to. “Hey, I have a card!” I shouted.

Now my sons were energized too. They both sat up straighter in their seats and started looking for a place we could stop and buy our stranger something to eat. At the same time, we all spotted the Burger King to our left. In my new excitement and haste to rectify my original un-helpfulness, I swung the van into the turn lane and practically skidded into the BK drive-thru line. We were all thinking the same thing: we needed to hurry because he might not be in the near vicinity for too long. My sons both started yelling things we could order, and we settled on grilled chicken, fries, and a sprite. We figured if he hadn’t eaten in three days, his stomach might be sensitive, so grilled rather than fried seemed to fit the bill. I also was price conscious because my own finances were pretty slim.

After we ordered and paid, we started looking for him. Panic began to rise as we scanned the street in front of us and the sidewalk on both sides and didn’t see him.

“There he is!”

My younger son spotted him in the parking lot of a corner convenience store where he appeared to be talking with another driver about his plight. I made a half u-turn into the store parking lot and pulled up beside our friend. When he shifted on his feet to face us, I could see on his face a flicker of recognition, but just shy of familiarity. My older son was closest to him, so I handed the bag of food to him and he reached out the window. A look of sheer surprise spread over the man’s face. Clearly he couldn’t believe we were back. My son handed him the bag, and tears welled up in the man’s eyes.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, and God bless you,” the man said. We blessed him back and pulled off.

I knew what had just happened, but I also knew something else had happened. That simple hand-off of food had ushered something “other” into our midst. A hush fell over all three of us, and my spirit bore witness that the interior of my van had been transformed into holy ground. The presence of God was overwhelming. Tears started running down my face, and I saw that my younger son was struggling to hold back the tears that sat pooled right behind his eyelids. Finally he said, “Gosh, he was so grateful … poor guy.”

I heard what my son said, but I also heard someone else speaking: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me. Thanks for feeding Me when I was hungry.” Then again: “When you give to the poor, you lend to the Lord. Thanks for the loan; I’ll pay you back.”

I was speechless. On a day when I felt the burden of so much of my own need, and was almost near the edge of panic about my own money situation, the Lord Himself visited my little tribe and gave us an opportunity to see Him, and to be blessed not just by Him but with Him. God was there as real as I’ve ever experienced Him. I saw Him in the man’s unashamed humility, his open gratitude, his peaceful demeanor despite what had to be a grinding existence, and his ready forgiveness of my earlier rejection. This man may indeed be a pauper by earthly standards, but he was just as sure a prince by eternal standards. In that simple act of obedience, I had received so much more than I had given.

Since my meeting him that day, now more than a month ago, I have thought of him every day and prayed for him when I thought to do it. He makes me wonder how many times, in our harried and distracted living, we miss the opportunity to see Jesus because we don’t recognize Him when we see Him.

Our cities and urban areas are full with people who need to be fed, clothed, comforted. But I believe we pass Him by because of the “distressing disguise” in which he appears to us. Run-down tenements, trash-strewn alleys, and overrun housing projects are not usually our idea of heavenly places. But heaven is where Jesus is, and I think maybe He’s waiting for us to realize that truth.

I almost wish I could see my hungry friend again, just so I could thank him. Through his humanity and his need, he gave me a glimpse of Someone I desperately needed to see. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, CHANDRA WHITE-CUMMINGS

Chandra White-Cummings is a columnist for UrbanFaith and a freelance writer, nonprofit consultant, and speaker. She’s currently working on a devotional series of books to help people apply God’s wisdom to their everyday lives. She has a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University School of Law, where she was named an Asuza Scholar.

By Christopher Linder July 30, 2009 -www.urbanfaith.com

President Obama reads letters from the public, as he sits at his desk in the Treaty Room Office in the Private Residence. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza, 2009.)

Now that we’ve all had a chance to settle down and let this most recent and unfortunate situation fade into the mists of past news cycles, I just wanted to humbly offer a few words of advice. In the future, please refrain from telling the truth about racial situations when asked. Clearly some of us in America aren’t quite ready for it yet. In fact, many are still trying to come to grips with the fact that you got elected in the first place.

Now, between you and me, we both know that the existence of your presidency doesn’t erase the centuries-long tradition of racism in America. Many of us — or our parents and grandparents — can still remember the days when segregation was an institution and a daily fact of life … not just a word waved around in the month of February.

You ran on the promises of hope, change, and a unified America. When I saw you speak at the Democratic Convention in 2004, I thought to myself, there’s the man who should be leading the country … and the thought was so incredibly far-fetched at the time. Even after you announced your candidacy, it seemed impossible to even dream that it would actually result in having you as our President. When Joe Biden uttered those ill-chosen words, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy …” we knew what he was trying to say, but it underscored the delicacy of the racial situation these days.

But you have to admit that we’ve certainly come a long way in these past few years, though I know we’re not there yet. However, in these critical early months of your administration, it’s important that you recognize the need for the masses to hold on to their warm, fuzzy feelings about your victory last November — not to mention their need to keep their racial blinders firmly in place. Is the danger of being stopped for “driving while Black” still a reality in 2009? Of course not! And do young Black men and women still get watched more closely in the store than their White counterparts? No! That is all completely behind us! Let’s move on; after all, slavery was a long time ago. We’re equal now!

Sure, we’ll hear the reports of the occasional group of school kids turned away from a swimming pool in the Philly suburbs … but that wasn’t a racial issue, that pool was simply too crowded. And we know that the situation with Professor Gates had nothing to do with race (not in this day and age). If Professor Gates would’ve just taken a deep breath and showed the proper respect to Sergeant Crowley, understanding that police officers seldomly treat people differently based on the color of their skin, there would be no need for your beer summit today.

Let us continue to believe that racism is dead in America, and that racial profiling is no longer an issue in our cities. Be patient with us, Mr. President … perhaps in a few years we’ll be able to engage in open, honest dialogues about race and racism. But for now, let’s just keep it our little secret. Give my best to Michelle and the kids.

Sincerely, Christopher Linder, Color-Blind in Atlanta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, CHRISTOPHER LINDER

Christopher Linder lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Rozlyn and their two daughters. A graduate of Judson University, he divides his time between writing, computer programming, and procrastinating. He is a professional web developer for churches, small businesses, and individuals. Says Chris, “I am a child of God who realizes that now, 30 years after being born again, I am still just beginning to learn how to walk.” He can be reached at Chris@iLinder.com.

Because a Large Population of People Live There

Our inner-cities are a diverse, active and exciting part of modern society.  Some things about the city are easy to celebrate and enjoy – the cultural, educational and social opportunities.  But at the same time, our cities are also permeated with their share of difficulties such as poverty, hopelessness, crime, drug abuse, illiteracy and other tragedies.  Those that inhabit our inner-cities have in many cases fallen victim to years of urban decay, neglect, oppression and limited opportunities.

In most of the large cities in the United States approximately one half of the geographic area in those cities is now considered urban. This is typical in most of our larger cities; New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and even in many medium size cities.

Note: the word “urban” can carry with it a great deal of baggage.  The reference here is not intended to identify various groups of people, whether by income level or by racial or ethnic background, but to only identify the neglected and oppressed areas of our cities that are often diverse and multicultural.

A disproportionate percentage of our country’s ethnic minorities live in urban areas.  Overall, 29 percent of U.S. families live in the city.  Yet, 58 percent of African-American families and 54 percent of Hispanic families live in the inner-city.  As you can see, ethnic minorities are really ethnic majorities in many of our cities.

We are talking about a large percentage of the population in the United States.  On an international scale we are talking about a large percentage of the world’s population.  It was Jesus who said to “go into all the world” with the Gospel.  Since our inner-cities are a large part of that world, Christians should be deeply concerned for reaching the inner-city as well as other parts of the world.

Because the People There are Poor

Most U.S. ministry resources target our middle to upper middle class population.  In contrast, the resources of Jesus (His time and energy) prioritized going to the poor.  Jesus preached to the poor, (Luke 4:18).  The scriptures prove this over and over.  Just look in a concordance for all the references to the poor.

You will see that God truly emphasizes going to the poor and ministering to the oppressed.  Obviously, a majority of poor people today are found in our inner-cities.  Therefore, from what we see in the scriptures, these areas are very precious to the heart of God and a top priority in His view of things.  And they should also be a priority in the view of Godly Christians who are following His Word.

Because There’s an Open Door.

In I Corinthians 16:9, the Bible talks about an open door.  This indicates that we should look around to observe where God is already at work and has already opened doors for our ministries to serve Him.  There is no place where the doors are more open than in the inner-city.  People are looking for help; they will accept help from spiritual sources.  There are no problems getting building permits or occupancy permits for ministries or churches.  The government, businesses, neighbors; everyone is happy for you to do anything that will help people in need.  There are very few restrictions.  We should not take this for granted.  For now the door is open, let us walk through it while we can.

God emphasizes by means of His instruction and example – that ministry to the poor and oppressed are high on His priority list.  A majority of poor people today are found in the urban areas of our cities.  Ray Bakke has said, “We must keep the urban poor high in our priorities.  The poor are no less sinners than the rich are, but they have also been sinned against.  They are the victims of other people’s sins and injustices.  Our ministries must be accompanied by a struggle for justice and righteousness.  Many Christians are missing the point that social action is not done in order to communicate the gospel, but as a sign or evidence that the gospel has already been received and acted upon.”

In looking at these three simple answers to the question, “Why Go to the City,” it is easy for some of us to feel some emotions of conviction and guilt.  That is not the intention here at all, however do not ignore those feelings either.  Ask God to help you see where they come from and what it is He would like to teach you, or have you do about those feelings.

Renewing the City with Hope, Compassion and Justice