PDF Slipping Into Darkness: A True Story From The American Ghetto

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All seem to have the Masons logo somewhere on them. The only businesses that seem to thrive are auto shops and urban clothing stores. The mall has a Dillards that sells jeans with your choice of dew rag already sewn in. Cockroaches everywhere, though they call them "waterbugs", and not the little ones, the big greasy cinema style cockroaches. Speaking with a maintenance worker in town, he said if you open a manhole cover they spill out by the millions.

In the summertime, it gets so hot that garbage is simply allowed to pile up everywhere as it's dangerous to spend to much time outside in the heat cleaning it up. I would often see dead dogs on the side of the road, sometimes being eaten by other dogs, all amidst piles of rotting garbage. These are wild dogs as people don't have much care about spaying and neutering their pets.

As common as seeing cigarette butts littering the ground of your average parking lot or street, people carry around little fried chicken drumlets for snacking and simply drop the chicken bones on the ground when they're finished. In case that's unclear; imagine your average "bad neighborhood" parking lot where you live, all the cigarette butts on the ground are now chicken bones. Prostitution, even for non-crackheads, seems to be more common than dating. It is a place of desperation, and desperate people do desperate things. The entire area is surrounded by thick forest that is difficult to navigate and spans for hundreds of miles in all directions, featuring sink holes that lead to underwater caverns where a car can be quite easily disposed of much less a body.

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Desperation, coupled with poverty, heavy drug use, violence as a built in social construct, and plenty of places within walking distance to dispose of a body. Not to mention the sweltering humidity in the summertime and roving packs of wild dogs I'm sure doesn't help forensics teams with evidence gathering, and the likelihood of the victim being a stranger makes murder cases that much more difficult to solve.

You have, they don't. They suffer, you don't. Even without the makings of the perfect little asocial violence machine that is that place, these two points are all that's necessary to make you the target in their territory. They could care less how alert you are, or how you carry yourself, or how liberal your views on poverty and race relations are. I live in Arkansas and Pine Bluff scares me to death. The signs leading into town that say "do not pick up hitchhikers" are there for a reason. That's mostly because Cummins Penitentiary is near PB. If you pick up an escaped convict from the state pen you're probably gonna have a bad day.

Wow, that Wikipedia page must have been written by the mayor; sounds like a lovely city. Thanks for the insight -- amazing to read a fluffy wiki PR page and then compare to a real account. S, also the blackest. As a native Michigander: We still have something! North Vegas is where you go when you've fucked up once too often on the Strip, and when you're not even welcome in the cut-rate downtown places around Casino Center. This is Nevada's answer to East St.

Louis -- a slum and a graveyard, last stop before permanent exile to Ely or Winnemuca. North Vegas is where you go if you're a hooker turning forty and the syndicate men on the Strip decide you're no longer much good for business out there with the high rollers It's a similar situation in parts of Brooklyn, like Brownsville by the way, a large amount of the violent crime across New York City is committed by people who live in Brownsville.

Mailmen are afraid to deliver mail to some of the large projects and often need security escorts to make deliveries. Some sections of these neighborhoods are like war zones. I live in west Philadelphia, and used to be a heroin addict. I'd go to Kensington to grab my drugs. Kensington is heroin capital USA.

Guys just walk around yelling "dope coke crack smack" or if you are white they'll approach you asking what you need. Because whites don't mix in there, you stick out like a sore thumb. I've been jumped I'm a thin blonde white girl by Six black girls and two black guys. I was the only white probably within a couple block radius.. Black people came to their doorsteps watching No one called the cops because I'm white.

They're all black and there, you don't rat out anyone for shit. Drug dealing is almost legal in Kensington. Cops are scared to patrol there. If you look up Kensington Philadelphia on YouTube, its pretty sad and disturbing and true. Lots of gangs. I had a kid who couldn't be older than ten ask if I wanted needles or dope. I was dumbfounded. There's syringes everywhere. People just look warped and insane there.

There's no jobs there's because of factories closing. So literally their only way to live is selling drugs prostituting, drug running, and hustling. I honestly was usually scared for my life going there. I've been grabbed threatened and beaten. Rolled up on whatever the fuck you wanna call it. If you want to see a scary as fuck ghetto, go to Kensington Philadelphia.

Glad I'm out of that game. I live in west Philadelphia. Its not as bad. But some parts you just don't go to. You don't carry your phone outside your pocket. I don't usually carry a purse on foot. And you better believe if you have something nice its stolen or damaged.

I know this post is a mess. But its sincerely hard to describe how you feel walking through Kensington. But every time I went there it was just horrible. If anyone has questions; ask. There's lots more to say about Kensington. But my boyfriends bacon breakfast is going to burn. Damn sorry to hear about that. I used to live in Kensington,there actually is a lot of white people living up there believe it or not lol.

I would of tried to get them off you if I seen it happening. Most people realise jumping and robbing white people is bad for business but then you got some dumbass black girls with huge egos who just like to start shit. The ricans are way more chill,and they love white boys lol. I can't stand North Philly black girls though. But yea the bad lands and most of Kensington are some of the worst places on earth. If you're visiting get your dope,crack,wet or whatever and get right out. All it takes is to run into some bored kids all wetted up and you'll be beaten within an inch of your life and robbed or shot,they know they can let off shots and get away with it so they won't hesitate to do it.

But yea on the bright side drugs are legal,Kensington is the real life Hamsterdam. Yeah I was keeping it a bit low key as people have thought I've lied about how things are there. When I got jumped it was an area right outside it and they were just some north Philly kids that went around doing that to bunches of people that night.

They never were caught because I "shouldn't of been there" at the time that's where I lived ha. But I know there's lots of white people there. But typically the Hispanics and blacks were my dealers. Go down fourth and Indiana, scary shit sometimes. I've seen insane things there. I once saw a woman at the el stop by somerset shooting up into her crotch at two o clock in the afternoon. I was a junky and was even like. Yup that shit's common up there and that's not even the worst of it. It really is sad,NP is like a third world country. I remember this lady was raped and killed and they left her out by 5th and Indy but the real fucked up part is that the cops couldn't get DNA off her because so many different people raped her after she was already dead!

It's just the whole mindset and way of life up there,it's so fucked up. Nobody can call the police because once people find out it was you that called your house will be set on fire or get shot up every night. Not everythings bad up there but the bad definitely outweighed the good. My wife and I are both white Americans who have both lived and worked in predominately African-American "ghetto's" in Philadelphia so I hope I can answer your question, but can comment on only my experiences in Philly America is a large place.

My wife and I both attended college in Philly and I lived in several neighborhoods over several years. Let me tell you, as a suburban white kid, my perception of the world was shattered, and I saw some crazy shit that I wouldn't see a fraction of if I stayed in the burbs. I saw several hood kids come around a corner and bash an empty 40 over a kids head.

I saw a police helicopter hover probably 50 feet above the street in front of my apartment, with a spotlight on a guy running who was eventually cornered by cops. While stoop sitting one Saturday night, I witnessed an argument 2 blocks away between locals. One of them left, only to come back 10 minutes later and shoot 2 of them. While studying one night at about 2 in the morning, I heard gunshots in the alley behind my rowhouse and when I peaked outside, saw several people running through the empty lot behind my place.

ELI5:How dangerous are American ghettos ? : explainlikeimfive

I remember when a cop was shot in the face and killed after accidentally walking in on a robbery at a dunkin donuts a few blocks north of where I lived. I remember reading about a police pursuit 2 blocks east that ended with the suspect dead and a cop in the hospital. A girl at the college was dragged into a bathroom of a campus building and beaten and raped by someone high on pcp.

A student was sitting outside with some friends when robbed at gunpoint. He had a gun and decided to have a little shoot out, sending them both to the hospital. You adapt to it though. My roommate got a new girlfriend that lived outside the city, who had a real messy car. First time she comes to visit, surprise, her car window gets smashed and shit gets stolen out of her car. Second time, she gets lost so roommate buys her a gps. Third time she comes to visit she leaves it up and her window gets smashed again and it's stolen.

She was so upset and was yelling about how she didn't understand how we had our cars there for a couple years and they had never been broken into. Because we knew if you left anything in plain sight, it would get stolen. So to answer your question, is it dangerous?

Is it deadly to white folks just passing through? Not really. Most of the murders are committed over drug deals, turf wars, personal vendettas, etc. I only had 1 incident my entire time living in the city when a couple of kids sucker punched me in the back of the head and ran away. Now for the elephant in the room. Is race a factor? You are a target if you're white. They won't shoot you in the face just because you're white, but they will more likely rob someone who looks like they have more money. The third time I saw it on a corner when i was waiting for my weed man to show up.

I used to be a process server. Oakland, CA was one of the cities I served. I had a service in a tenement building, so i waited outside until someone used the access controlled door, and coat-tailed them. You had to have a key to get in. Loud gangster rap is coming from the other side of the door and the hallway smelled like a sewer.

I have my subpoena in hand, and I knock on the door. Immediately, a bunch of really big sounding dogs are barking on the other side. A man is screaming at them to shut up. His voice is deep and he sounds pretty angry. The door opens a bit - there is a chain on the door. The papers are stuck in the door, along with the strap from my riding suit.

I'm trying to free myself, when I hear the chain sliding on the door. The door opens, I fall backward into the hall by the stairwell. I bolted for the stairs. The bloodthirsty dogs, enormous pit bull terriers, launch themselves after me. I'm running like I never have in my life. I hop over the railing at the end of the stairs down to the next flight with the dogs on my heels.

They are skidding on the concrete, unable to maintain traction. I'm wearing boots with oil and slip resistant soles. I manage to make it to the next flight and vault over the railing again, the dogs barely a few feet from me. Again, they skid on the concrete floor giving me just enough time to escape to the next flight. At the bottom, I blow through the plexiglas entry door, twisting my body in the air to slam it shut on the dogs.

No sooner had it closed, the three murderous pit bulls crashed into it, biting the plexiglass, smearing their slobber all over it. What i've learned from my time living in a bad neighborhood is that the homeless just sit there, the druggies are to out of it to do anything, drunk people are usually easy to avoid and just want to talk, and gang members only ever fuck with each other.

This is true Still, one day, some crack head will decide he needs your wallet to buy some more crack and will pull a knife on you. Know how to diffuse such a situation. As long as you're not afraid to deal with situations like this it's pretty much "safe" to walk through the ghetto. I never thought twice about walking through the ghettos here until I found my first serious girlfriend. She was terrified of the ghettos and after walking through one with her I understood why. She was like a piece of fresh meat slathered in honey to those creeps.

It depends on the ghetto. Not all ghettos are alike. In some neighborhoods, if you look "normal" you'll have to be really careful. I found that the time of the day has a lot to do with how dangerous it is. During the day, it's probably true that I live in a reputably bad neighborhood, but after a few months of living here, I realized the vast majority of crimes here are non-violent. Lots of smash-and-grabs and stripping cars. As a petite female, I've always had to worry about safety while alone at night, so I've carried an asp for years.

To be honest, I had to reach for it way more frequently when I lived in a college town than I've had to living in the hood. Life pro tip: A kid in really nice, unlaced sneakers with his pants cinched well below his ass is generally posturing, and unlikely to be a real physical threat. A guy in laced canvas shoes and sweatpants is used to having to move fast. I'll joke around with the blinged-out kiddos with their sagging pants, but when when a dude is sporting his ready-to-make-moves gear and tells me I look like I've got a sweet little pussy, I tend to give a nod of acknowledgement and keep moving.

That would indeed be effective! This kind of asp requires much less maintenance. But reaching into my purse and pulling out a moderately sized snake would probably be equally effective. For those of you guys who cant see this because we've 'd the website. An asp is a collapsible baton. The kind some police, security, and dominatrixii thrust out. Or have the asp carry you! When I travel, I often carry a decoy wallet.

Small enough amount of cash to not worry too much. One credit card that I've memorized the phone number for, and a novelty drivers license. Everything else is hidden. I use that money for spending. It's the only wallet anyone sees. If I need more, transfer in a bathroom. I was once robbed like that and just gave them my money.

I'm sure there are less expensive ways to diffuse a situation, but I don't have muscles nor do I carry a knife. Heh, I just expected "know how to diffuse such a situation" involved something more than just the obvious option "give them the wallet, duh". You might want to practice wrist control.

I was a Mormon missionary in St. Louis from , which has been in the top 3 violent crime cities for the last ten years or so. I was in multiple areas lived, not just visited such as East St. Louis, Flourissant, Pagedale, Alton, many of these areas were considered very dangerous and we were told to be careful after dark. It was common to not see another white person at all some days I am white. Surprisingly, most people in those areas had a somewhat strong Christian belief system and they always called us Jesus People and were very friendly much nicer than other suburb areas, where people can go out of their way to he very rude.

I was never a target of any crime or violence, but I was warned many times that I needed to leave the street or house because something bad was going to happen. Which was the truth, we would usually find out the next day. I had one person show a gun and point it in my general direction, but it was never a direct aim and I don't believe there was intention to fire. I also witnessed a couple robberies and once came across a man being beat up, and the attackers left pretty quickly when they knew we saw them.

No serious damage to the man being attacked. People in these areas may live life and solve problems a little different than most people, but for the most part if you are nice to them and don't offend them, they are nice to you too. Even a very small percentage risk is enough for me to put my family in danger.

I have not been to other rough areas of the world to compare, but I can say that it was a definite eye opener to see that areas like this really existed in the states. It really is an a area where the law is non-existent, every house has bars on the doors and windows, and you think to yourself every morning that the chance is there that you may die a violent death.

Because of that experience I realize how much safety is a luxury and worth every expense that I pay. None of these answers seem to respect the idea that "dangerous" is an incredibly subjective term. I think a decent analogy would be walking around an open field during a thunderstorm. You are far more likely to be struck by lightning than if you were in a forest or safe in your home, and infinitely more likely to be struck by lightning than if there were no thunderstorm. Yet walking around a field during a thunderstorm does not guarantee that you will be struck by a bolt of lightning.

In fact, it's still incredibly unlikely. Being the most vulnerable object in an area does not summon lightning unless you're hundreds of feet tall , all it means that is that, if lightning just happens to strike that area, it's going to go through you. This is a rather perfect analogy to walking through a bad neighborhood while looking out of place. You are a target for those few people looking for targets, but most of the people in a ghetto, in any place, actually, are just looking to live their lives and couldn't give a fuck about you one way or another.

I just want to make this clear from the point of view of somebody who has lived in bad neighborhoods: simply walking through a bad neighborhood will not necessarily get you shot, killed, raped, or robbed. But if you do encounter the very few people who think that shooting, killing, raping, and robbing are acceptable kinds of behavior, then, yes, you are going to be an obvious target.

There are a lot of variables you have to take into consideration, though. More than the word "dangerous", the word "ghetto" is incredibly subjective. Take a city like Pittsburgh. The whole city has a run down vibe to it. Every square inch of that place looks like a borderline Industrial Dystopia.

Yet there are very few neighborhoods there that cross the line into being truly dangerous. I was driving through to get to Kennywood one day, took a wrong turn and wound up in what was very obviously a ghetto. Shot out stop lights, dudes that looked about 20 pounds pushing shopping carts full of their belongings.

A couple of people glanced at us, but it was about 1 PM and you could tell it was something that happened a lot, and it was pretty obvious that 3 dorky white people in a ZX2 weren't there to start trouble. It is a hub between Baltimore and DC. Now THAT area looked completely suburban. Decent houses, maintained yards, the apartments were taken care of. We were working on utility lines, actually trying to IMPROVE the quality of life for these people, and in some of those areas we weren't allowed to be in groups of less than 4. We weren't allowed to leave any of our tools, and we had to leave our valuable belongings with our foreman who was out of the area.

In those same areas we were told that no matter how much progress was made, we were to be out of their by 4pm, because once it got dark, it was rare that you could even get the police to come that way. At one point I even heard gunshots that resulted in a fatality, and were about a block away. I was in a Wendy's parking lot at around 8 in the morning. These are two extreme examples, but honestly it can be a lot more dangerous than saying it is "live and let live", so to speak.

Sure there are people who are just trying to live their lives, but when your life is ruled by poverty and cut throat mentality, anyone can be a perceived threat. I've been all over the cities all along the East Coast, and they all vary greatly, but in most cities the run down areas are simply that, run down. As long as you don't hang around or start trouble, you are fine. Baltimore and DC, and from what I have heard Detroit, are different stories, and to anyone visiting I wouldn't stray past the beltways and other large highways.

Im surprised that as utility workers you had to be careful like that. In my city, theres plenty of bad neighborhoods that arent very safe to go to, but they leave anyone from the electric or water or cable companies alone because they want their TV and stuff. A few years ago they even had police dressed up in uniforms from the power company climbing poles and pretending to work so they could overhear the people nearby, who would openly deal drugs even just a few feet away. I bet the utility workers loved that. One week: "leave him alone while he fixes our cable.

Let's fuck with him. Apparently the undercover cop thing was about 10 years ago, and they werent so trusting for a while. But my grandpa installs satellite tv and said they are really nice to utility workers again. They picked up on the fact that utility workers did that, and in most cases while we were repairing utilities, there were other times that we were shutting them off. Yeah it's like nothing I've ever seen. It doesn't even seem to be above average gang activity, it's just the ratio of ruthless lunatics is off the charts.

I stay aware of my surroundings in Norfolk but I don't feel like I'm going to get robbed and murdered for simply going to Burger King, either. I disagree with the overall message. Perhaps the analogy would work if you were walking through the field with a 50ft pole. You will almost definitely be jumped if you are around long enough. Compared to the suburbs, you can be there indefinitely and nothing might happen to you.

If you are in the hood, it's just a matter of time. If you are driving through, you'll be fine but if you are just spending time - it's just sooner or later that someone will step to you. If you're just a regular person -- you won't even be able to hang out. You'll get escorted away by the police, they insist you don't stay in a neighborhood where you don't belong.

The people who do bad things exist in large enough numbers that you will have a problem sooner or later. It's not like someone is going to shoot at you randomly but you'll have situations where someone might say to something to you and if you don't handle it correctly, you'll find yourself in a bad spot. I had no idea cops did that sort of thing until I got lost alone in Detroit, on Gratiot, NOT the kind of area where my ghostly complexion and obvious distress would blend in. I went to a cop shop for help and directions, and the cop looked me up and down, shook his head, and said "you NEED to get out of this neighborhood.

Route 94 is that way. HAHA I always get it wrong! Every single time I tell that story to someone from Michigan, they quietly correct me, "I," and smile. You people are so fucking nice. A little background: I'm a mixed male with a very pale complexion. I have to explain that I am black to every person I speak with. I grew up in South St. Louis City and spend a good portion of my time in the "shadier" parts of town. East side and North side, for those of you familiar with STL geography. Once I learned to stop walking around like a tourist - portraying confusion or fear - I stopped having issues.

It's all about your demeanor. If you don't look like someones bitch, you won't be made into someones bitch. STL because she was old, white, and vulnerable. The ghetto isn't some free-for-all, everyones gonna die place, but the chance still remains that your day can be ruined in these places. My dad and his girlfriend both caucasian and their German Shepherd were hitchhiking across the country back in the '70s when they ended up in East Saint Louis one day, totally by accident.

Nobody bothered them for a while, but they got a lot of sideways looks. Eventually a man my dad still describes as "an older black gentleman" came along in his car, slamming on the brakes when he saw the trio and shouting "Get in! GET IN! He explained to them that they were in an incredibly dangerous area, didn't they know that? Couldn't they see the bars on all the windows? Dad replied that yes, they knew, but they were just trying to pass through.

And then the gentleman glanced at my dad, lowered his eyebrows, and said something my dad has never forgotten: "You know why nobody bothered you, right? It's that dog of yours. Black skin scars pink, and no black man wants to be white. He took them out of town, to a safer area, and let them go. Dad never got the man's name, but over 30 years later, he still talks about how grateful he was to the gentleman who gave them a hand back when they were dumb and unlucky. He also warned me to stay the fuck out of E. STL if I'm ever in the area. Actually you or at least I, as a young black male have exactly the opposite problem in the suburbs Once, I was picking my brother up after he got off work.

But sometimes He does. Get the latest delivered directly to your inbox by clicking here. In , the U. Players were expected to be present for these sponsored patriotic rituals, standing in reverent observance. Years later, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the playing of the anthem in protest of racism in the U. He heard that criticism.

Even after making that concession , however, Kaepernick remains target of vicious criticism to this day. His actions have been described as shameful, unpatriotic, divisive, contradictory, misguided, and unnecessary. This is not surprising. I am not aware of any form of black protest in U. What is remarkable about the generally negative view of Civil Rights activism is that so much of that social movement were was decidedly non-violent.

King preached that we should love our enemies and they called him a liar, an agitator that was leading the nation astray. It does not matter if it presents itself as a broken storefront window or in a gracious TedTalk by Michelle Alexander. Jeremiah Wright. Moses had settled into his new life in the desert. Long enough for the Pharaoh that banished him to pass away.

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Long enough for him to become the very thing a prince of Egypt would have loathed: a shepherd, an abomination, a Hebrew. God seems to have intentionally waited for that time when Moses would fully become a Hebrew before making an introduction. One would expect a ruler to lead with the most impressive parts of their resume e. Instead, God mentions three nomads who built no cities, ruled no countries, and died in obscurity: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Exodus The most important thing for Moses to know, apparently, was that this God is the Champion of Hebrews.

No one in Egypt was interested in hearing that cry. That is not surprising since the cry of Hebrews implicated the Egyptians. It would be more expedient for them to shut the Hebrews up. God heard the very thing that the Egyptians refused to hear. Too big a deal cannot be made on this point. They want to suggest that the ultimate goal of the Exodus was to get all the historical dominoes in line for Jesus to be born a Jew in Bethlehem centuries later. That is not surprising, since the cries of oppressed will implicate their oppressors.

No one wants to be implicated, and so we will always try to deflect, deny, and drown out cries of injustice. Let no one, however, be deceived. But God will always be hovering in the margins, listening. God does not shut down those who cry out in protest. The text says that when God hears the margin-dwellers lament their social pain, that God hears and acts. God will always advocate for them. God will always be found among them.

Freedom Summer was a campaign that took place from June to August of that aimed to register as many black voters as possible in Mississippi. The project brought hundreds of white liberal college students to live in black Mississippi neighborhoods to work with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee SNCC against voter suppression. Living among black people and witnessing the unfettered violence of southern racism radicalized those young white liberals to invest the rest of their lives in the active pursuit of a just society.

McAdam also suggests that Freedom Summer marked the great schism between black and white activists. Black and white alums of the project convey that paternalistic behavior and racial insensitivity from the white volunteers stirred up racial tensions within the organization. Few had realized that the very ideology they were fighting against was also the framework they were using to define their activism.

Although many of them were victims of abject poverty, constant harassment, and racial terror, the black Mississippians these college students had come to help were not the only ones in need of salvation. The white SNCC volunteers needed to be saved from the ways that growing up in a racist society had trained them to think and behave. Their story conveys that, in the pursuit of justice, false messiahs often create more problems than they fix. Sometimes they exacerbate the very conflicts that they are trying to address.

They often swoop in, presenting solutions without acquiring a deep understanding of the people and their context. They often mistake presumption for initiative. They assume a posture of leadership instead of listening. They treat the oppressed as projects instead of equals. They play the hero not realizing that they need to be saved. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and was compelled to intervene.

He killed the Egyptian and buried his body. The text seems to show that Moses had expected a different response to his messianic activities. Moses obviously wanted to identify with his people and play some part in their liberation. He was just going about it all wrong: swooping into the ghetto and picking off Egyptian overseers like an ancient Near Eastern edition Batman, and assuming a leadership role in solving issues within the Hebrew community. What made him think that he was the solution for his people after spending just five minutes in Goshen?

Did the single fact that he had Hebrew parents entitle him to be their advocate? Did he even know any Hebrews? Killing whom he wants and presuming to tell Hebrews what to do. Before he could lead the people across the desert, Moses had to lose the option to go back to the palace. We need to understand how we have been shaped by the very society that we are trying to change. Understanding that much can keep us humble, can help us to continue growing in freedom and healing, and enable us to help others on their journeys. As Aborignal activist Lilla Watson has said:.

Tone policing marginalized people is not helpful. Being overly sensitive about being called out is not helpful. Requesting constant validation for helping is not helpful.

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Assuming leadership roles that could be filled by those directly impacted by the problem is not helpful. Speaking on issues you have not adequately researched is not helpful. Messiah complexes are not helpful. Let them be immersed in the suffering of the people they intend to work with. That is the U. Many Christians smack their foreheads at this type of image, but it is not so unique.

The idea that the laws descended from the heavens is an ancient one. People have been envisioning it for a long time. Images like this ancient one and the contemporary one above carry the same subtext: whatever the government says, does or commands, God wills. The political conclusions in ancient Egypt were the similar. Opposing him or her was no small matter. Someone should have sent a memo those Hebrew midwives.

Someone should have explained to Shiphrah and Puah that God had already told their ancestor Abraham that they would be slaves in Egypt generations beforehand Genesis — That they just needed to be patient because their moment for salvation was in the future. Yet, God honored them for this act of resistance. They knew that the law was evil, and they feared God too much to obey it. As Dr. God rewarded those insubordinate, rebellious, deceitful, God-fearing women for their civil disobedience Exodus — Photo by Jonathan Bachman of Iesha L. Evans holding the line in protest against the police-involved death of Alton Sterling.

It may be a biblical idea that God may allow leaders to come to power, but it is not a biblical idea that leaders are always right. The scriptures are consistent that God opposes kings that do evil, even the ones that God likes 2 Samuel — Therefore, no one can justify themselves before God for participating in any kind of social evil on the basis that it was the law or that the king commanded it.

This story tells us that when the powerful demand we participate in crushing the oppressed, God blesses the disobedient. They could not be committed to naivete about the structure of Egyptian society: They could not assume that an officer only stops a civilian for good reason, or that the prisons are only filled with people who deserve to be there, or that if someone died in a police encounter that they probably deserved it.

They were committed enough to thinking critically about their society that they could determine that what Pharaoh was asking for unconscionable. Shiprah and Puah remind us that we cannot outsource our responsibility to discern between right and wrong to the government: such definitions are not the sole property or prerogative! The champions of an oppressive system will always label dissenters as criminals and critics as traitors.

This text is telling us that sometimes the most righteous thing one can do is to protest, to refuse to comply, to disobey, to resist, and to protect the vulnerable by any means necessary. Click to continue onto Part 6. For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to ask a certain, famous megachurch pastor and seminary president what he thought about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In those words, Mr. Famous-White-Megachurch-Pastor-and-Seminary-President expresses an idea that permeates so much of evangelical Christianity: that the gospel and Christ are somehow separate from issues of social injustice. That idea made it difficult for me to find a church job after graduating from seminary, especially at one very large and influential megachurch. My passion for racial justice made some nervous.

We need a broader understanding of salvation that begins with personal transformation but necessarily expands into relief from political suffering and an end to all forms of social evil. The Exodus story shows us that God has that kind of holistic understanding of salvation. We can gain such an understanding by paying very close attention to the entirety of the predicament from which the Hebrews were saved which we are about to do. It would be calculated, methodical, and multi-faceted. The too often forgotten soldiers of th Infantry Regiment of the U. Since the average Egyptian had few interactions with actual Hebrews because of a long-standing prejudice against the Hebrews as being inferior Genesis , Pharaoh could upgrade that prejudice to outright contempt.

Pharaoh could now say that the Hebrews were more than low-class. He could say that Egypt temporarily and graciously opened its borders to refugees in need, and that they have been feeding those lazy mooching Hebrews ever since! The Ku Klux Klan saw themselves as the overseers and enforcers of the racial etiquette of the south. Formal oppression for the Hebrews seems to have happened in stages. It reads as though the Egyptians just started telling Hebrews what to do. Perhaps it looked something like the Jim Crow Era appx. In the Jim Crow South, Black people were expected to use formal titles when addressing white people, to make way for white people on sidewalks, and to always give white motorists the right of way, among other forms of deference.

In essence, black people were expected to do whatever white people commanded. The same seems to have become the case in Egypt. The Hebrews were put to work, not because such work was legally obligated or could be morally defended. They were expected to obey these Egyptians that suddenly appointed themselves as their masters, as a way of honoring the caste system. Driven by ignorance, fear, and contempt, many Egyptians seem to have begun taking the caste system very personally, and committed themselves to defending it.

As the Hebrew population continued to grow, so did the disgust and dread of the Egyptians. The writer describes it in terms we would do well to take seriously, as people have the dangerous tendency to minimize or deny past atrocities in order to cool passion about present injustices. Even the writer of this text. But historical ignorance, prejudice, and social hierarchies are pretty abstract: they need vehicle s to communicate with the material world. A smart politician, he wanted to be tactical, insidious, and covert.

He would make Hebrew women kill Hebrew babies. If the midwives were willing to do it, it would cause rifts in the community that may never heal. It may even discourage Hebrew couples from wanting to procreate at all, knowing that their child would either live their entire lives as a slave or not live at all. Perhaps Hebrews will start killing themselves from despair. It seemed that any outcome one could think of would spell a win for Pharaoh.

The state had declared war on the Hebrews: using cultural prejudice, institutions, miseducation, political propaganda, and covert and overt forms of organized violence as its weapons. Click to continue onto Part 5. In the late summer of , hundreds of tiki torch-wielding white nationalists marched the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia to resist the removal of a Confederate monument. In direct imitation of the famous Civil Rights era Siege of First Baptist Church in Birmingham , these men surrounded a Charlottesville church forcing those gathered there to fear for their safety and escape through the rear entrance.

It was a scene pulled directly from a long tradition of American racial intimidation. There seems to be a pervasive idea that non-white people are interested in a race war. Where this idea came from? I never heard anything about it at any of the Universal Negro Council meetings we hold in Aspen every month. What reason do these white people have to think that black people have some hidden desire to massacre them after literal centuries of not doing so? The same reason the Egyptians in this story had cause to fear the Hebrews with no history of conflict: None.

That fear can galvanize a people to do evil things en masse, or at least to accept the destruction of their neighbors as necessary. That type of fear wins elections. But that is pattern behavior for the powerful and corrupt: create a crisis, then swoop in and play the hero. We've seen this scenario in our own lifetime. The research shows that white anxiety about being dispossessed motivated much of white America to give Donald Trump the presidency. And he's been singing Pharaoh's song: that our country is threatened by "bad hombres" and "animals" from "shithole countries," and "I'm the only one who can fix our problems.

That was a joke. Joseph was a former governor that saved Egypt from economic collapse and bridged social divides. His legacy would not have been easily forgotten. Some Bible scholars suggest that this passage conveys outright contempt rather than benign ignorance. It was something like a class distinction that pointed to the junk drawer of that ancient society. Egypt on the other hand was the epitome of high society. The name alone was synonymous with prosperity, influence, might, and learning.

Egypt was the place that other nations sent their young elite to be groomed for promising careers in international diplomacy. The Egyptians were anything but Hebrew, and they wanted to keep it that way. To even associate with Hebrews was taboo Genesis Joseph was the youngest son of nomadic Canaanite shepherds, brought to Egypt as a slave sold by his own family , then falsely imprisoned on rape charges.

Yet, by the favor of God, he miraculously rose to the top of Egyptian society, becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh. He spoke with the ruling Pharaoh, who allowed his family to move to a little slice of Egypt called Goshen. He predicted his family would be sent there. Hebrews were apparently sent there often. Up to that time, Joseph had been putting on a convincing performance as an Egyptian even fooling his family when they eventually saw him again. Now that his family was in town, people in the capital were finding out about his Hebrew roots. Learning that Joseph was a Hebrew seems to have challenged the prejudices that existed among the Egyptian elite during his time.

When Jacob died, the Egyptians mourned for him and embalmed him. Egyptian officials accompanied Joseph back to Canaan to bury his father in the land that was home to his great-grandfather Abraham. Joseph may have been an exceptional Hebrew, but that was not enough to keep his family out of the ghetto. One way to accomplish that is to erase the history of the oppressed: their great leaders, their contributions to society, and especially any history where they lived in harmony with those who are now more privileged. It is more likely that the history of shepherds blessing Pharaohs, and Hebrews being embalmed like Egyptian kings, and a Hebrew that saved Egypt from poverty was suppressed.

This part of the Exodus story is a reminder of the importance of memory, not the royal memory of the state, but people's history. The royal memory will always or downplay the atrocities of the state and the glory of the oppressed. Americans are provoked to fear migrants trying to cross their southern border, but do they remember how what used to be Mexico became Texas?

Many Americans chastise black Americans for 'living in the past' when we talk about the legacy of slavery, but do they remember the systems of racial oppression that have evolved from to date?


They feel no obligation to remember that which we can never forget. The next entry in this series will go live Wednesday, June 22, Note: A version of this part series first appeared on Medium in I'm returning to this series in honor of Juneteenth and releasing three previously unreleased released entries, culminating on Independence Day For the past few years, white Christians — many of them evangelical pastors — have been trying to explain to me that Jesus does not care about me.

That must be why these white pastors were saying something so clearly insensitive to put it sensitively. I thought that idea also applied to being saved from threats like police brutality, mass incarceration, and other forms of social pain that disproportionately affect black people. I was right about the Jesus saves part, say my white evangelical brothers and sisters, but not about the immediate threats to my body and human rights part.

According to them, Jesus is more concerned about saving my soul for eternal happiness with God in heaven. But if any of that is true--if God is indifferent to the pain that black people go through--then how can we say that God loves black people? Death is not good news.

In fact, death is the very thing that the earliest Jesus-followers thought to have been vanquished when their Rabbi was nailed to a cross. The gospel of death is also a problem. It excuses us from being — like God — zealous patrons and guardians of life. In a faith that undervalues the body, regards the world as doomed, and looks forward to death, how can any lives truly matter?

The story of the Exodus subverts the gospel of death. It shows us a picture of the God of the ghetto, who cares about the bodies of those who live in the margins of Egyptian society— is livid that the bodies of Hebrew babies are being thrown into the Nile, that elderly Hebrew bodies are forced to work as slaves for Pharaoh. The God we see in the Exodus story defines salvation as moving bodies from one geographic place to another , and in doing so also moves them from one social status to another. I fear they have not fully appreciated the vast implications of a God that takes on the ancient institution of slavery.

That is a typical conclusion of those committed to the gospel of death. That God loves them. That God sees their suffering. That God is willing to wage war on their behalf for their freedom. But that is exactly what this story is trying to tell us. Because God always chooses the last, the least, and the lowly 1 Corinthians — I will explain to you what I mean by saying there was a ghetto in the Egypt of the Exodus story. I will explain to you how the Hebrews that eventually became Israelites were first ghetto children.

Jesus loves the ghetto children of the world. The story of the Exodus is the story of how God broke the children of Israel out of the ghetto and adopted them. I intend to introduce this God to those who are willing, by walking through the Exodus story. Come with me. Click to continue onto Part 2. Thoughts About Booking Store. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Black and Beautiful In one of his lesser known and important speeches Dr. Getting Egypt Out of the Hebrew On the other side of the Red Sea, the Hebrews are given instructions, including a rhythm for work and rest.

On that day no one in your household may In the Exodus story, the Sabbath command directly addresses the generational trauma the Hebrews endured in Egypt. Freedom can be fragile. She huffed: The boss! He was hung for stealing food. He is a pharmacist who makes medicine, but he stops working a formal job after restrictions are put on Jews. Janina Milgrom is a small young girl who gets frustrated, upset, mad, and pushy frequently throughout the novel.

She later becomes Misha's sister. He is described by Misha as "looking like Himmler. Doctor Korczak , The man who took care of orphans who also had a mustache. He is based on a real doctor, named Doctor Korczak who really did take care of orphans.

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Later she marries Misha and lives with him for five months before she leaves, pregnant with his child. She is twenty-five years old with a daughter of her own named Wendy. Buffo is a flop working in the Ghetto. He is seen by Misha as the "worst flop" who "couldn't possibly be a Jew. He always smelled like mint, so when someone was killed by him, they say that he "smelled the mint". Misha found him after the war was over, but Buffo just shuffled away. Milkweed pods, a major theme in the novel, seem to have also come from Spinelli's childhood where he used to blow milkweed pods near his home.

In his interview with Nadine Epstein, Spinelli explains his hesitance to write a novel based on the Holocaust and on feeling "unqualified" since he had no personal connections with the Holocaust other than caring about it. Once he decided to proceed in writing a novel concentrated on the Holocaust, personal accounts like Elie Wiesel's memoirs gave Spinelli insight. Orchard Books acquired the United Kingdom publishing rights for Milkweed. Field Award for Fiction.

Examples of symbolism in Milkweed are angels and milkweed pods. Milkweed addresses the themes of survival, caring for others, and existence itself. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Novels portal Children and Young Adult Literature portal. Horn Book Magazine. Media Source Inc. The Houston Chronicle. Texas: Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 March Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on 9 December Retrieved 20 May Field Award". Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The Horn Book Magazine.

Retrieved 17 March Library Media Connection. Retrieved 14 March Retrieved March 13, The Bookseller. Hidden categories: CS1: long volume value.