“From a spirit standpoint, folks are kind of beat-down and don’t feel like they can talk to their government or do anything about folks running over them...”
Rev. Ronald C. Smith is the pastor of Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Union Springs, Alabama and is an instructor of forestry and natural resources at Tuskegee University. Smith and his family live near Stone’s Throw Landfill, one of the largest landfills in Alabama that has been expanded several times by taking land from black homeowners whose families have lived in nearby Tallassee for generations. Represented by Earthjustice, Smith and several other residents have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its backlog; the community has had pending EPA complaints dating as far back as 1994. Motivated by his faith, Smith continues to fight for a clean and healthy environment for his community now and for generations to come. Learn more in this Center for American Progress article entitled “10 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2018” and in this Earthjustice article entitled “Righting Civil Wrongs.”
The June 2018 Newsletter of Passio, St. Joseph's Passionist Province (UK) included a feature on Fr. Martin Newell. Fr. Martin became a Passionist in 2001. Early in his priesthood, he "was looking for a way of being more radically committed to the option for the poor, and I had this sudden realisation that justice and peace work was what being a Christian was all about." He has been involved with protests against the use of drones in warfare and directs much of his energy to reverse climate change. He is currently based in a house where he lives alongside asylum seekers and is part of the leadership team for Passionists in England and Wales.
Read the article on Fr. Martin here
I particularly like the article [in the Passionist newsletter Passio] about “Re-Formed”, two sisters from the black community in Liverpool 8 who have re-bounded from their own experience of prison to work with gangs in inner city Liverpool. I’m proud that by supporting their work, we are able to continue the legacy of Austin Smith CP, the first Passionist I heard of.
It was back in 1989. I was living in Liverpool 8 and volunteering at a couple of local charities working with people with mental health problems.
So, for me, the white man’s burden is to listen to how the system with which I am comfortable hurts and does violence to others who are not like me. I have been blessed with opportunities to listen to the stories of others. My burden is to repent of how I participated in this, knowingly or unknowingly.
I am writing this as a white male, born and raised in the U.S. I would be designated a “baby boomer.” I am 61 years old. I am a Roman Catholic. Politically, I am an independent. There are times when the cries of movements such as “Black Lives Matter,” and “#Me Too” can feel overwhelming. And many people, I think, would attribute part of the divisions in my country to a “white backlash” against movements like these. What I offer here is a personal reflection on what is going on, and what the response of people like myself could be.