Ferguson: Truth in Action (by Andrew Gibson)

Andrew14a“To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed becomes as evil as the oppressor. Noncooperation with evil is as much as moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day last year, we were holding our third annual Freedom Arts Expo. Recap collageThe sun was out, my people showed up, and we put on a great block party style art fair for our scholars. Yesterday we did it again and it was another successful, significant event. And yet someone I never met before was on my mind.
On this day last year, 18 year old Michael Brown was dying on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, just a bit north of where we were. He was shot and he died and then he laid in the street for four hours. And all I could think about was what if that was one of my scholars? What if that was one of my friends? Somebody I know and love?
The death of this young man that I never knew changed me. It changed me for the better. I’m thankful for that.
Yes, there have been different accounts and opinions of what happened on August 9, 2014. I’m not even going to get into that. What has remained true in all the accounts is that Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson who said he saw no other alternative than to take an 18 year old’s life. A trained, weapon wielding, experienced law enforcement officer saw no other alternative than to kill that young man.
Do we not see the problem? Forget all the rhetoric, agendas, and distractions. Do we not see the many problems?
It’s a problem that we aren’t overflowing with compassion and action. It’s a problem that white America struggles in grieving this young man. It’s a problem that to some it’s as simple as “well, he shouldn’t have been _____.” It’s a problem that we can’t have more compassion for someone who doesn’t look like us. It’s a problem that some of us believe he earned his death that day.

When we hurt or kill someone else, we are actually hurting ourselves too. We are striking down our own humanity.
Far too often, that someone else is somebody who doesn’t look like us. Even more often, that someone else is somebody who doesn’t look like me. That someone else is darker than me.
We need to quit arguing about what’s going on. We all need to step back and take a look at the reality of the world in which we live.
We need to accept the reality that people of color are mistreated due to systemic ethnic inequality. People of color are treated as less. As inferior. Or expendable. This is a lie that is pure evil. Have you ever felt inferior? Have you ever felt useless? Have you ever felt mistreated? Then have some compassion. Don’t argue about it.

My freedom fighting friends Alexis Coleman & Devon Durdin

My freedom fighting friends Alexis Coleman & Devon Durdin

We need to accept the reality that people of color are being killed every day and this has been our country’s history. We all know this inconvenient truth. We all know about this country’s historical attitude and treatment of people of color. What we don’t all seem to know is that it’s not over. Racism still lives, and it lives here, in our city. Racism lives in St. Louis, the city I love. That’s reality. Let’s face it. So we can change it. Let’s change this reality by realizing, accepting, and actively living the truth.

The truth is that we are all made in God’s image, and Black Lives Matter. That truth CAN define our reality if we put that truth into action. That’s the truth and I’ll say it until I don’t have to anymore. We are ALL made in God’s image. So, Black Lives Matter. The human race is a fallen, sinful one, but a perfect God created us in His perfect image. We bear that image, ALL OF US. I’ve seen that truth in action over the past year and it has been beautiful. I’ve seen people wake up and show up. I’ve witnessed artists, educators, and mentors become activists for this truth. I’ve seen God at work in St. Louis.

We are all made in God’s image, and Black Lives Matter. Realize this truth. Then get out there and put it into action.

Meanwhile, expect the nonviolent direct actions and civil disobedience to continue as long as the killing and abuse of authority continue. Expect your comfort and convenience to be put on the back burner while many of us fight to change the status quo.

I’ll keep speaking the truth and putting it into action.Andrew14b I’ll keep asking God to guide my steps, for He is the only one capable of reconciling power with love. I’ll grieve with those who grieve and stand with my people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. I’ll work to help people understand their God-given value. I’ll encourage all people in this struggle. I’ll fight for this city that I love so deeply. I’ll keep proclaiming the truth: We are all made in God’s image, and Black Lives Matter.

Andrew Gibson
(Executive Director, Music Coordinator, Music/Academic/Visual Arts Mentor)

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About Freedom (by Andrew Gibson)

In the United States, the 4th of July is a day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This document declared our nation’s independence from Great Britain.
So we’re free now.
Right?2Cor3 17
I know some people who would emphatically say no. I’m not writing this to generate a heated argument on whether or not we are free. That is a philosophical conversation that I would love to have with anybody reading this over a La Cosecha coffee, a Strange Donut donut, or a Sauce on the Side calzone. I’ll even pay, so it’ll be free for you!
I’d like to briefly share my ideas on freedom. An element of freedom is responsibility: responsibility to your community and environment, responsibility to your fellow human and all creatures, responsibility to yourself, and responsibility to your Creator. Freedom means nothing if we don’t use it to enrich the lives of others and improve our world. Gal513However, I don’t believe that on this planet or in this life we will ever be truly and totally free, in every sense of the word. How could we? We are bound by natural laws that we cannot break or beat. To an extent, we are bound by our pasts and biases. Some of us are bound by poor health and similar challenging circumstances. I do know this: the freedom that I have thanks to Jesus Christ is a freedom that can never be taken from me. It’s a freedom that is valid in this life and the next. But regardless of differing spiritual beliefs, I’m confident we can all agree that freedom is a vast idea of supreme importance to every living creature on this planet. We named our organization Freedom Arts & Education Center because of that truth. We want to help people live freely. We want to enrich people’s lives and improve our community and inspire others to do the same.

So now you know that I love freedom, good coffee, good donuts, and good calzones. I also love powerful quotes and deep song lyrics. Here are some of my favorite quotes and lyrics about freedom:

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
-Bob Dylan

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
-Nelson Mandela

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
-Robert Frost

“Time’s changed, freedom reigns, I’m a grown man. Holding the future in the palms of my own hand.”
Black Thought

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”
-Albert Einstein

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
-George Washington Carver

“Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood stained son of man. Fullness forgiveness free passage into the promise land, that same breath God breathed into us God gave it up to redeem us.”
Propaganda

“Without Sovereignty, I don’t have freedom at all.”
Rod Wisdom

“To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.”
-Cornel West

“God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

John 832

Andrew Gibson (Executive Director, Music Coordinator, Music/Academic Mentor)