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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... !

In mid-January of 2012, during an organizing meeting of Occupy Faith in New

York City, as we prepared for our coalition J21 Citizens United anniversary protest event, a woman participating in the meeting approached me as I facilitated the discussion and asked in the context of the Occupy Movement if I believed that white people in America should apologize to black peoples for their suffering? The question echoed another conversation that I had back in October 2011 in Zuccotti Park, renamed Liberty Square, with a man that has since become my friend, Chris Hedges. The conversation centered on the observation by Mr. Hedges that there were very few black persons, or persons of color, from poor and working poor communities of New York city in Liberty Square, and the moral presence and leadership of the Black Church was conspicuously absent. He wanted to know what my take was on his observation, and if I believed that the Black Church would embrace OWS and what I believed could be done to inspire their embrace of the Occupy Movement? I contrast and answer the two fundamental questions. ! If we acknowledge a true examination of the Civil War in these United States and the quest for freedom for African peoples, it must be stated that what was most objectionable to the Southern slave holding aristocracy and the gentried business class of the North about the Abolitionist Movement and the abolition of slavery was the immediate economic consequences of the loss of the cheap and free labor. We can talk all day and all night for weeks about race and how the elite political and economic classes of America in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centurys saw the black man as less than human, three fths of a man, and intellectually and spiritually inferior to their white counterparts; the narrative was a lie straight from the pit of the lowest Hell and a cover for one bold and simple truth, that there was an economic reality to slavery, and by eliminating slavery there would be serious and demonstrable negative consequences on the Southern economy and on the morally bankrupt social classes that obtained their wealth and benet from it. Slavery and Americas Civil War was about money. During American Reconstruction, both free blacks and white America had to breech a conspicuous reality, how am I going to eat? Pronouncements of freedom were of little value if you cant feed yourself, or your family. Freedom is the ability to exercise choices and options; without choice and options a man is not free.
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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... Blacks had no real political or economic options or power that could result in effectual social change, and without any real money to speak of they could not buy land so that they could compete with white farmers. The ight of blacks to the North didnt produce an abundance of jobs, especially if they were marginally literate, or completely illiterate, and they were greeted with hostility by other working class, working poor whites because now they were competing for their mediocre, low wage jobs. ! Discrimination against blacks in the North and Jim Crow in the South was rooted in economic supremacy and the raw political power required to maintain it. The advent of the Twentieth Century and industrialization in America provided some relief to the working poor in the form of jobs, but blacks still had to compete for those jobs, they still had to play catch up, and to ght to obtain an education so that they could compete, and were met with violence at every turn when they tried to compete. When we observe the history of the Twentieth Century and the ght for equality, equal justice under the law, and the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, it is important to note that the Civil Rights movement began long before Martin Luther King, Jr.; long before Rosa Parks refused to tender her seat and the Montgomery bus boycott; but it began when small groups of black people, locally in neighborhoods and communities in states throughout the South decided that they were gonna ght for their businesses and churches that were being re bombed, that they were going to take responsibility to protect their women and children, that they would build their own communities and protect each others homes, that they would take responsibility to educate their own children as best they could, and that they would organize for political power in the ght for the right to vote. ! It is clear, that the true movement that was the Civil Rights movement of which we all speak so eloquently of today was not simply about race, but is was about economic and political power, equality and fairness that would be the foundation for social equity and social justice in American civil society. This was the human, moral and social imperative of obtaining economic equality and fairness for blacks, and for all disenfranchised peoples of America, which is why Martin King and the SCLC began to transition to a more comprehensive Poor Peoples Campaign in coalition with other progressive groups in America to address the core issues of economic justice and
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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... housing for the poor in America. It is the reason that Dr. King went to Memphis,

Tennessee in 1968 to campaign and advocate on behalf of striking sanitation workers, and I believe personally that it is the reason that he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. ! In the aftermath of Dr. Kings death, although the Southern Christian Leadership Conference decided to move forward with the Poor Peoples Campaign there was a dramatic void in the absence of the charismatic leadership and moral weight Dr. King brought to the calculus, and right wing political and economic strategists engaged their own campaigns to polarize an already deeply divided country, to bring to halt any gains that Blacks believed that they had made with Brown v. Board of Education and School Desegregation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Southern Strategy exploited Southern resentment for having been made a moral spectacle and national pariah in the painful 1960s, establishing the false narrative of the Federal government seizing social, judicial, political and economic power over the Southern states, diminishing States rights, and allowing the inferior Blacks to rule over them, which fueled and allowed the Southern Dixiecrat political movement to come into full bloom taking dynamic root in Barry Goldwater, and culminating in the election of Richard M. Nixon to the presidency in 1968. It was the catalyst for the realignment of the former solid Democrat Southern states to the Republican party, at the expense of driving 90% of black voters to the Democratic party, which was a major feature of the Southern strategy because it caused Southern whites to migrate in droves to the Republican party. Kevin Phillips, a political strategist to Richard M. Nixon stated in a New York Times article in 1970 that: From now on the Republicans will never get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they dont need more than that, but Republicans would be short sighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe Whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. Thats where the votes are. Without that prodding from blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with local Democrats.1

Boyd, James (May 17, 1970). Nixons Southern strategy: Its All in the Charts. The New York Times. 3

APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... ! All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satised with

seeing, nor the ear lled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.2 ! Not only did Right Wing social engineering and extremism seek to occupy and dominate political and economic life in America in the 1970s, they as well sought to occupy and co-opt the American religious experience and morality as a means to manipulate the culture and the sociopolitical narrative, as they had done during slavery. America was without sin in their narrative. America was the country of God with God given liberty and republican ideals, and God built it, [American Exceptionalism] which exonerated America and them by extension; for slavery, the Civil War, lynchings, and Jim Crow, and in fact, as it is slanderously reported by the right wing conservatives of today, slavery many not have ever happened at all, so they owe no apologies to Black peoples. Right wing extremists and extremism have polarized America along the lines of race, faith, creed, sexuality, poverty, wealth, nance and economics, family, and values; not evangelizing and sharing the all inclusive power and redemptive love of God, but demonizing Americans of different faith traditions and experience, promoting jingoism, racial bias, intolerance and xenophobia for social, political and economic benet, and they have embedded their false social narrative deep within the psychological fabric of the country. For we wrestle not against esh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.3 ! ! This is not to say that there have not been gains for blacks and peoples of color in America. Of course, there have been, but the most prolic gains experienced are for the most part individual, and all boats must oat for America to live up to the high calling of its founding creed. Today, the same spiritual forces of greed, moral turpitude and moral corruption engage the same high crimes and misdemeanors that took America down the path of slavery, civil war, and the ght for civil and human rights and liberties.

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Ecclesiastes 1v.8,9 KJV Ephesian 6v12 KJV 4

APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... It lifts again its demonic head, unapologetic, and without shame for its conspicuous wealth and ostentation, taking the homes of the working poor and middle class American families through illegal foreclosure practice despite not having original mortgage documentation. This demon takes taxpayer funded bailouts to keep its corrupt criminal enterprises aoat as it continues to reap exorbitant executive bonuses. The demon declares that corporations are persons, placing prots over people and the human need for which the corporation was created to satisfy to begin with, denying and diminishing the spirit and humanity that sustains all human beings, and has lured to the dark side, bought and corrupted the very politicians that we have elected to represent our profound human interests in our government. This fundamental spirit of evil was never truly about race, but it was always about exploiting the diversity of the human experience to breed division and hatred so that a select wicked few could reap the gains. This was never just a struggle in and for Black America, although Black America featured prominently in the story. The struggle was always against depravity and poverty in the American experience, always against the strong taking advantage of the weakest and least among us. Not just Black America, not just Hispanic, or Asian America, or Arab and Muslim Americans, not just against immigrants and demonizing immigration, or against civil service workers in states and municipalities across America, not just against unions and union workers across the United States, but today the full frontal assault on the collective bargaining process and the right to unionize in its entirety, the fundamental core of what paved the way for immigrants to America and the working poor to become the middle-class America that we have come to know and understand of the last 70 years. ! In the Soviet Union capitalism triumphed over communism, in America capitalism has triumphed over democracy 4. Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self-interest backed by force5. Not just Black America, we are all under assault by Right Wing extremists and extremism, extolling the virtues of the capitalist free market, touting in their bogus, unholy rhetoric words and phrases that are as

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Lebowitz, Fran (May 16, 2011). The New Yorker Shaw, George Bernard, in The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), p. 214 5

APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... American as hot dogs and apple pie. Words like freedom, free enterprise, success,

faith and family, free and unfettered markets, life, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness, caring more for the unborn than for children living in poverty and for those that are now occupying the earth. They have been allowed to escape with the abundant fruits of their crimes because we as civil society did not protect the least among us, because they did not look like us, because poverty, suffering and societal alienation was sui generis to the Black experience. As a consequence, we are all, without respect to race, color, creed, or religious faith perspective, now subject to the very same heinous socioeconomic assault suffered by black and brown peoples for the last 40 years, threatening the very core of our collective civil and human existence, and the vast majority of Americans do not even understand how it has come to pass. ! It must be acknowledged that a lie is a lie by any moral, or intellectual measure, or any slogan that a person might use to mask its nefarious purpose. But America ignored the lies and many Americans have chosen to believe them, and by so doing America has condemned itself. Now within the Occupy Movement, educated youth, progressives, and the intellectual class seek to extricate itself from the socioeconomic, political and moral abyss within which America now nds itself. Its half time in America. However, for America to extricate itself from this abyss, America must now extricate the demons that are within us as a people. We must call the devil by his name, acknowledge our gross sins as a nation and embrace one another, engaging in one bond of dynamic repentance and brotherhood forged with the spirit of our collective humanity that cannot be broken. Further, it is critical that we understand that we cannot ignore our base, and, it is required that we dene that base. The progressive base is not the liberal white establishment in the Northeast, or the Northwest frontier states. The progressive base is not the urban inner city, or the African-American population of the United States. The progressive base is the Diaspora of the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the working poor and the working people of the world whom have made America their home, and who have forged the American middle-class. Our base is the 99%. Out of many, one people. Not the black experience, not the white experience, not the Christian, or the Jewish, or the Muslim, or the Hindu, or the Buddhist experience. No more the politics of division that have fractured civil society and has
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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... caused us to see ourselves as different and not as beautiful and diverse pieces of the magnicent human mosaic that is America. We have a moral and faith imperative in this new potentially perfect Occupy Movement to bring this spiritual psychology to the mainstream of American thought and reality. Activism is evangelism if the activism is righteous, lifts up the human dignity of all peoples, embraces the poor and the working poor, blesses the family, and helps us to recognize our best self in civil society and as humanity before God. ! So White Americans do not have to apologize to Black Americans, because as in the time of American Reconstruction, an apology doesnt put food on the table, a roof over the head of Black Americans, shoes on their feet, or clothing on their backs, and it will not remedy the centurys of slavery, or the social, political and economic injustice of the last 150 years. What White Americans can do is recognize the evils that has brought America, as a whole, to this present abyss, call it evil, shun and disavow it, and link arm in arm with Black Americans, and with brown Americans, and Americans of every ethnic origin, race, color, creed, religion and sexual orientation, because we are all Americans, and ght with us for a standard of social, political and economic egalitarianism that is sustainable and allows all Americans and their familys to prosper equitably. Real equality in America. ! White Americans can link arm in arm with all Americans to demand and ght for the repeal of Citizens United, and ght together to end, once and for all, the inuence of corporate dollars in public elections. Link arm in arm to ght against the illegal foreclosures that have taken millions of homes across America, and that threaten millions of homeowners presently and their dreams of a bright and stable future for their families. Let us stand as one people, the 99 percent, to force corporations to place the needs of people rst and to serve the interests of the people that they were created to serve to begin with. Fight the righteous and moral ght with us, so that discrimination in the workplace based on age, skin color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or for any reason, becomes a relic of the history books. Fight with us to insure a fair and living wage in America for all Americans, to end homelessness because we as civil society can, and to establish an immigration policy thats compassionate, fair, just and equitable, and that affords all peoples the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of
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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES..... happiness. Fight with us against the establishment of the police state, and for a viable and dynamic model of community policing that respects the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the Constitutional rights of every person, and that places the needs of the citizenry and civil liberties above the criminal justice machine and the greed, immorality and inhumanity of the prison industrial complex. ! Fight with us to end the NYPD policy of Stop, Question and Frisk in the city of New York as it violates the civil and human rights of young black and brown peoples predominantly on the street. Fight with us to end islamophobia, and the ethnic and religious proling of Muslims. Fight with us to destroy the prison industrial complex and to drastically reform the criminal justice system that has more young black men behind bars today than have ever been enslaved in America during 400 years of slavery. Fight with us to secure a dynamic primary and secondary school educational system in America for all children so that going to college is not just a dream, but a real and viable option for all those who aspire to it, and so that our children can experience a prosperous and innovative future. Dream with us, about a better, more successful tomorrow for all peoples, and put your hand to the plow with us to help us to build it today. This is the new Liberation Theology that will bring the Black Church in America, and peoples of faith and good will of every stripe and from every corner to the Occupy Movement. ! This present Occupy Movement can be among the greatest movements for social, political and economic justice and effective change that the World has ever seen. The actions of the movement, if it is to be a true movement, must be righteous, moral and must be a tool for real and effective change in the neighborhoods and communities of the disenfranchised and disaffected, and it must further partner and coalition honestly with the true organic leadership of those communities. The people do not need a hero, they must discover that their hero and deliverance is within themselves. Let us here acknowledge that the Civil Rights movement gone past is not yet complete, and the quest for civil liberties in America, attaining dignity for all humanity is far from over, and it must be our spiritual, human, moral and intellectual obligation to complete it. !
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APOLOGIZING FOR THE SUFFERING OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES.....

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Rev. Dr. Raymond H. Rufen-Blanchette Pastor & Bishop Prelate Revelation Pilgrim Ministries Apostolic Worldwide Brooklyn, New York Member, Steering Committee OCCUPY FAITH New York City Chairperson The Clergy Campaign for Social and Economic Justice