Tag Archive | Jim Crow

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Once upon a time there was an internal refugee ban in America. Well, I guess you can’t really call them refugees since they were brought to the New World unwillingly. Let’s just say there was an internal ban in place in America, a quota filled by immigrants. Well, I guess you really can’t call them immigrants because they were chained and dragged to the New World. When they were brought over, before the Mayflower, they were labeled chattel and were viewed as such because their humanity was blithely denied. Eventually, 200+ years later, after much destroying of families and taking of lives enforced by the internal American ban, the war between countrymen broke out and then victory and then freedom (so they hoped and prayed) for the once stolen, a period of reconstruction, a renewal and rebuilding (so they hoped and prayed), a discovery of self and voice (always in place) but then the Feds left and the old attitudes, the old guard, seized power again and though they could no longer shackle the bodies, they built a wall of hate between them and those people. The wall, the internal wall of hate, the created in America internal ban, was even more rigorously enforced and the Feds left the local yokels to their own devices. Black codes morphed into Jim Crow and Jim Crow policed the ban with self-righteous polity.

“You can wash our dishes but you can’t sit at our lunch counters. You can raise our children but you can’t marry our daughters. You can sing those good old spirituals for us but you can’t sit in the pew next to us. You can cook our food but you can’t dine in our restaurants. You can wash our clothes but you can’t share the same water fountain. You can clean our houses but you can’t sit down and eat your lunch in our family dining rooms. You can be a teacher but not in our schools. You can be a preacher but not in our pulpits. You can be a student but not with current textbooks. You can buy our gas for your car at our stations but you can’t leave your gas in our restrooms at our stations. You can buy clothes in our stores but you can’t try on clothes in our stores. We demand your respect but don’t you dare try to look us in the eye. Bow and scrape and stay in your place until we need you to do what we deem beneath us to do.”

Yeah, there’s always been an internal American ban in place, a wall of red, white and blue hate embellished with a white cross. It went underground for a while, or so we thought. It was silent but it was still rooted in the hearts of those who never got over 1964, 20 years before Orwell’s 1984, but Big Brother (in his mind) was watching, waiting for the moment to seize power again.

2017 and everything is still everything.

They learned from their history.

Have we?

image

Advertisements

MONDAY MUSINGS: Afterwords

She walked into the church on Easter Sunday morning dressed in a light blue “church” suit and a silver ornate hat on her head. I watched her from across the room and as she walked to her seat, I noted how she stood out against a backdrop of Sunday casual.

I grew up in the era when clothes had a category. There were work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes. On special occasions there were party clothes, Easter clothes, Christmas clothes.

Church clothes were aka Sunday Best and everyone, kids to adults, wore their Sunday Best every Sunday. Often, Sunday Best was the same outfit every Sunday, but it was always pristine, freshly cleaned and ironed.

I think about those days in light of the casual ambience of today. “Come as you are,” almost looks like “ready-roll.” For those of you not familiar with this term, it means an individual rolls out of bed and rolls out into the world just as they are, “ready-roll.”

Church wear is pretty much casual wear these days and I get it. Following Christ has nothing to do with the clothes one wears into the sanctuary. Fellowship with the saints is more about the blood of Christ than the red sole of a shoe.

But, my Sunday observation got me to thinking. Here are my thoughts, my “Afterwords:”

Back in those days when there were church clothes and work clothes, my grandparents and parents needed that distinction. The work week for them was tedious and back bending. More often than not, they had no authority, no power. They were subject to the whims of the system that defined how they could be, where they could be and who they should be. Those work clothes reminded them of just how powerless they were in a world that demanded so much of them as it did its best to drain them of value and self respect.

But, Oh, those church clothes! Those church clothes, that Sunday Best ensemble, welcomed them with open arms. Those clothes reminded them of sanctuary, that place where they could celebrate one another and rejoice in the presence of a God who loved them beyond their reality. Those church clothes strode proudly into a place that was 100% their own.

Those church clothes, plain and simple, were worn with a regal posture as the saints greeted one another before walking into a house whose doors were always open to them. Hats were crowns worn on heads held high in the presence of the King of Kings.

I never saw my grandfather in anything other than a blue suit jacket, a khaki shirt and khaki pants on Sundays. But, dressed in his Sunday best, he was the superintendent of the church, and in that place he was that intelligent, self-taught, learned man he always was.

His work clothes were farm laborer clothes, but his Sunday clothes spoke to who he really was from the inside out. His Sunday clothes kept him sane and insulated from the wretched demands of those work clothes. His Sunday Best was his best and in them he was always at his best!

No, clothes don’t seem to have categories anymore. But, for some of us, those yesterday clothes categories remind us of just how far we have come by faith!

I must remember this the next time I see someone dressed in their Sunday Best!

 

image.jpg

Photograph from the book CROWNS.