I Will Stand Up. I Will Fight.

As I watch the news and scroll through social media, I see a lot of pain and injustice in the world. At times it can seem overwhelming. How in the world can I make a difference? Can anybody relate? Even though I cannot do everything, I can do something.

So, I have decided I will continue to stand up and do something. I will Fight.

I will continue have real conversations with other people wanting to truly make a difference in this world. Not just talk about the issues, but take some real action. I will surround myself with others who want to fight. I will continue to get educated. I will continue to listen.  I will Fight. 

I will continue to take the time to see the pain of others. I will not pass them by with a “I’ll pray for you.” No, I will stop and pray for them in that moment. I will not allow people to walk through their own crazy beautiful journey alone. I will Fight. 

I will continue to fight for the victims of human trafficking. I will continue to bring awareness to this horrible crime. I will continue to listen and learn. I will never believe I am an expert. I will continue to speak out. I will fight. 

I will continue to fight for civil rights. When I see injustice I will speak up. I will continue to listen and learn. I will take a stand even when it’s not popular. I will fight. 

I will continue to share my story and faith. God has blessed me with a story to tell. A story I must tell. I will never be ashamed to proclaim Jesus as my Savior. I will continue to respect the faith of others. I will fight. 

I know some of the things I believe in and stand up for are not popular with everyone. That’s okay. I gave up trying to be popular a long time ago. I am more concerned about living a life that is pleasing to God. Living a life of service. I will continue to Fight. ~OC

400 Years After 1619

In 1619, slavery came to America. In December 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in America. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 2008, America elected the first African-American President with the election of Barack Obama. America has come a long way in the 400 years since 1619. But have we come far enough? Yes, this post is about racism in America. For those of you tired of me writing about racism in America, you can skip over this post if you would like. But I hope you don’t.

When most of us think about racism in America, we think about the days of slavery. We think about the 1960’s and the Civil Rights Movement. A lot of people think racism ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. I wish that was the case. Sadly it’s not. In 2019, racism is sadly still alive and well in America. Let’s take a look.

In 2019, hate groups are on the rise in America. The latest report shows there are 1,020 active hate groups in America.

In 2019, some police officers are still stopping African-Americans for simply driving while black.

In 2019, people of color are still followed by some business owners when they enter a store.

In 2019, African-Americans are still held at gunpoint by some white people for simply being black. Even when that African-American is a police officer

In 2019, some white people still call the police on Africa-Americans for simply living life.

So how can we take steps to improve race relations in America? Here are some suggestions.

Do not be afraid to have conversations about racism in America.

Stand Up against racism when you see or hear it. Don’t be Silent.

Make sure your place of worship is have real conversations about race.

Visit and invest in African-American owned businesses.

Know your history. Visit African-American museums and civil rights site.

Pray. Ask God what you can do to help improve race relations in America.

These are just a few suggestions. Feel free to share and implement your own ideas. We have to continue having these conversations. Silence is not an option. At least not for me. ~OC

Who Was Mr. Emmett Till?

This week, a lot of Americans heard the name Emmett Till for the first time. The reason Mr. Till’s story came back into the news was because racism is still alive in America. For those who may have missed the story, three Ole Miss University frat boys decided to post a picture of themselves along with their guns beside a monument in honor of Emmett Till. So, who Was Mr. Emmett Till?

Emmett Till was born on July 25, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. In 1955, he was visiting family in Mississippi. During that visit, Mr. Till was accused of whistling at a white women. Oh, did I mention Mr. Till was a 14-year old African-America boy, being accused of whistling at a white women in Mississippi during the 1950’s? What was the punishment for this so called crime? Mr. Till, a 14-year old boy on vacation was lynched by two white men.

During the 1955 farce of a trial, the two white men accused of this horrific crime Roy Bryant and J.W. Milan were found not guilty by an all white jury. In 1956, the two men acquitted of the crime admitted publicly they had killed Mr. Till, but were protected by double jeopardy. Also decades later Carol Bryant, the white women who had accused Mr. Till of whistling at her admitted she made up the whole story.

Why am I sharing Emmett Till’s story in 2019? Because it is part of our history that should never be forgotten. Even though things have improved in America, we still have a long ways to go. I think the photo of the three white frat boys standing next to Mr. Till’s memorial proves that fact. Or the story of the white woman in North Carolina who defended herself for calling an African-American woman the “N Word.”. That is why I will continue to be a voice against racism.

Emmett Till would have turned 78 this week. What would he have accomplished in life? Maybe he would have become a doctor, lawyer or teacher. Maybe he would be a grandfather today, enjoying his grandchildren. Sadly, Mr. Till never had the opportunity to “Maybe” see any of these things. His young life was taken way too soon based on a lie and hate.

You may have noticed, I referred to Emmett Till has Mr. Till during this blog post even though he was only a child when he was murdered. I did that out of respect for Mr. Till and his family. Oh, how I wish that young 14-year old boy would have had the opportunity to become Mr. Till. ~OC

Criticizing America is Not a Sin

Over the last week or so, there has been a lot of debate about criticizing America. Some people believe if you criticize America and it’s leaders you should pack up and leave the country. Others, like myself believe it is healthy to discuss the warts of America. That does not mean we do not love America. Actually, it shows that we really love this nation.

America was built on people having the right to share their concerns about this beautiful country. These debates have shaped this nation. Let’s take a look at some of those debates.

Women’s Suffrage. In 2020, we will celebrate 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This gave women the right to vote. Did you catch that date? Women have only had the right to vote for 99 years. The brave women of the Suffrage Movement were criticized for criticizing the way things were being done in America. Can you imagine the Sunday dinner conversations? But those brave souls did not pack up and leave America. No, they pushed forward until the 19th Amendment was ratified and signed on August 18, 1920.

End of Slavery. Who can forget we actually fought a war against each other over this terrible part of American history. Imagine if some very brave people would have stayed silent and not criticized America about the sin of slavery. We would never have seen the passage of the 13th Amendment which was ratified and signed on December 18, 1865.

Civil Rights Act. For some this seems so long ago, but this landmark act was signed on July 2, 1964. That was only 55 years ago. Some people reading this were alive during this turbulent time in America’s history. Some were on the right side of history, while others fought to hold on to the terrible past of America. The brave souls of the Civil Rights Movement were criticized for wanting to make America a better place for all. Some gave their lives for that freedom. What if they would had stayed silent? Where would we be as a nation?

I could go on and on with examples of how America was changed for the better by people who criticized her. Think about all those people involved in the examples above. Today, we celebrate them. But during those struggles, those same people were being beaten and killed for speaking up. So before you pass judgement on those brave enough to criticize America, remember America was built on people criticizing her. Oh, by the way, criticizing America is not a sin. It is a right that many have died for. A right we should continue to fight for. ~OC

Current Reading List

I love to read. Reading is something I have been passionate about since I was a child. Here is my current reading list. These books are challenging me in so many ways.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About The American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby.

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores by Dominique DuBois Gilliard.

Southern White Ministers and the Civil Rights Movement by Elaine Allen Lechtreck.

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason.

I also just purchased a Bible that really discusses Social Issues called God’s Justice (NIV) by Zondervan. ~OC

White People! Let’s Talk About Racism

Hello my white brothers and sisters. My name is Todd “OC” Shoemaker and I am a white guy, who wants to challenge you to confront and talk about racism in America. I know most of you don’t want to discuss this issue, but we can no longer ignore it. Racism in America still exist and we must deal with it. We can no longer hide behind our gated communities in the suburbs.

I can hear the moaning and excuses. Todd, things are better in America since the Civil Rights Movement. People just need to get over the past. I am not a racist. I have several friends of color. My coworker is African-American. Good for you, but have you ever had a conversation about racism with your friends or coworkers of color? Does your church talk about racism and the effect it has on your church and community? Or do you only have those discussions when a African American man/boy is shot and killed? Ouch! I know, I am making you uncomfortable. Good! I hope reading this makes you uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable for me to write. But unless we are made to be uncomfortable, we will never take the steps to change things.

Todd, why are you so passionate about this topic? I am glad you asked. Every since I can remember, I have been passionate about civil rights in America. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a civil rights attorney. Of course that never happened, but my passion for civil rights, social justice and racial reconciliation never left me. Growing up, some of my best friends were African American. They always made me feel welcomed. More importantly, they pushed me to have real conversations about racism in America. These were not always easy conversations to have, but they helped me become the person I am today. The person I continue to strive to be. Most of the time, I just sat there and listened. I took the time to hear the pain, frustration and racism my friends of color dealt with everyday. I asked questions when appropriate. I learned about African American History. A history that I was not being taught in school. My African American friends taught me how to talk about racism and confront it. I am thankful these friends from childhood were patient with me. It is because of them that I am the person I am today. Never comfortable with the injustices I see around me. Never afraid to confront these injustices. Never afraid to have those tough conversations about racism and injustices in America. To never stop learning.

I want to encourage my white brothers and sisters to have the courage to have these tough conversations with each other, but more importantly to have these conversations with brothers and sisters of color. These conversations could be messy. That’s okay. Those messy conversations will help you and America be a better place for all of us. ~OC

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