“The Significant Worth of a Mother”

“The Significant Worth of a Mother”

I can’t stop thinking about my mother. Day by day, I am realizing how much she means to me, how much I adore her and miss her physical presence near me. This woman has eternally marked my life and left a big void in my life.

Whenever I look at one of her pictures, it brings both joy and sadness to me.
Yet her sweet memories live in me and she walks daily with me.

1 Corinthians 15:55, ““O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?””

I have never met anyone as kind, loving, and compassionate like my mother. I can never reach her perfections and virtuous life.

Ten Major Issues Facing the American Nation Today

Ten Major Issues Facing the American Nation Today:

  1. Lack of civility, integrity, and transparency in the highest governmental offices.
  2. Lack of moral decency and purity among church ministers/clergy, and lack of compassion and empathy for the poor and the needy in contemporary American churches.
  3. A crisis in gender identity and unfounded alternative sexual preferences and choices.
  4. The abandonment of moral absolutes, ethical norms, and intellectual truths.
  5. The physical distance and emotional alienation technology and social media have created among people.
  6. The problem of historical amnesia and the erasure of historical truths in the nation’s (collective) memory.

7.The rape culture and prevalence of toxic masculinity that we refuse to acknowledge as a national crisis.

  1. The corporate silence of Evangelical Churches and Christian ministers concerning social justice issues, race relations in churches, and their inaction towards public policies disenfranchising the nation’s working class people, and the economically-disadvantaged black and brown people, as well as poor whites.
  2. The false equation of American prosperity and American supremacy with divine blessings and favoritism, and Biblical Christianity and piety.
  3. The tension between obsessive individualism and relational community, leading to inhospitable attitude or treatment toward strangers, the unknown, even family members.
***To learn more about these urgent issues and other pressing needs in our society, see my new book: “American Christianity and the Culture of Death: Conversations and Poems on Racial Trauma, Social Justice, and Hope”

“Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South’: A Poem for Breonna Taylor” (June 5, 1993–March 13, 2020)

“Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South’: A Poem for Breonna Taylor” (June 5, 1993–March 13, 2020)

Who are these strangers in our Land?
monsters in gray invading the South side of the “Derby City”;
the Blue force from the Highview;
women in blue form from the Creek;
boys in black, leaving their body cams in the East side;
blue, gray, and black they wear in the River Side;
rough fabric of the Devil on the Cross, maturing their view, purview, and counterview.
Black boots and shiny helmets marching to the sound of the melody of “The Ville”;
bearing banners painted with dying stars and fading red and white
stripes, they walked in tight ranks;
bearing flags decorating with abandoned crosses and human skulls, they waged war in the riverbanks;
spilling petals of blood in the South side in one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight shots in Taylor’s chest;
screaming, gossiping, and cheering after the fact;
How long, the black mother screams, will I mourn the wrongful death of
my Breonna?

Who are these strangers in our Land?
beasts running in the “City of Beautiful Churches”;
spies of the nation who have come in our homes to take our fruit;
people who produce conditions of distress and tiredness in “The Fall City”;
Where do these boys in blue come from?
Who is their leader?
we are trampled by thousands of boots;
living in terror of their bloodroots;
inhaling in fear because of their bitterroots;
“they’re killing us…our songbirds are gone,” the youth rage.

The children on the other side of the East shout:
“we cause no harm to human life.”
“like a lion in a cage, waiting for reports and justice.”
“Listen, do not call the FORCE in BLUE or dial 911 for RESCUE.”
The elderly in the shadow of the East ask:
“Who will flog those who have shed our blood in the South side of The Ville?
The mothers outside of the Edgewood cry:
“Is there no longer a steward in the Shively hood who can do it?” “We will remember Eight for One dead body.”

In harmony, they sing a new song of protest, lament, and a lyric of hope:
“When you give weapons to the Kĩmendeeris, they smash and grind lives;
when you arm idiots, they will become madmen, coward-men, and men of no shame;
they will hate life, life in black, black existentia in the city;
power in the service of urges, instincts, and patriotic zeal;
power is loyalty to supremacy in white and privilege in Aryan wheel; at the sight of the men in uniform, we lament the death of our
freedom, our humanity in black,
and the desecration of blackness;
we eat in silence, mourn in pain, breathe in suffering, experiencing a
common anguish of City’s rejection;
we’re learning how to manage our common plot;
we try to banish the pain by praying, doing penance;
many young and old, girls and boys in black have fallen in the struggle;
at the very least, we should ask their leaders what these monsters in
gray are doing on our land.

We will lift ourselves from within.
We will rise above the battle ground in the Derby City;
We will resist the arrest in the Bluegrass State;
We will find the courage to continue the struggle and win the battle;
We are ready to defend ourselves like Ali against this new rival;
Our rebellion on the ground will nourish courage to fight the devils
in the ‘Gateway to the South.’”

*** I wrote this poem for Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot eight times on March 13, 2020 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove at her home in Louisville, Kentucky. It is called “Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South.”

“Monopolizing Justice : When Monetary Justice and Legal Lawsuits are not ENOUGH to fix our Racial Wounds”

“Monopolizing Justice:When Monetary Justice  and Legal Lawsuits  are not ENOUGH to fix our Racial Wounds”

The practice of racial discrimination and white supremacy in the American society not only literally kill human lives; it causes severe financial injuries and burden on the U.S. economy. What is depressing is that our governments–at the Federal, State, and County level–are resistant to work out an effective plan to destroy the systems, institutions, and practices that cause such national troubles and human sufferings. Justice is not cheap and a passive force. Injustice is even more costly than the practice and idea of justice. Monetary justice will never solve the roots of our common wounds and racial predicament. If the American government and elected officials would listen to the cry of the vulnerable members of our democracy and correspondingly to the complaints of those who continue to be victims of racial trauma and prejudice, and if they would act judicially and equitably to alleviate the racial pain and unjust practices, perhaps, we would be on the right path of racial healing and (more) racial progress.

According to various reports and studies, it has now become evident to us that our economic strength, military power, and ideals of democracy, not the practice of democracy, are not adequate to fix the deep problems of racism and white supremacy in the American society. Both practices are deeply human problems that are grounded profoundly in our value system and racial habits. In other words, our richness in military and material resources cannot and will not resolve the practice of racial hatred and inequality, and discriminatory laws and inequitable public policies. (I want to be clear here that I’m  referring  to how we have   created a false vision of justice and democracy in this country. (1) We have wrongly equated democracy and justice with military power and economic progress. (2)  We have wrongly substituted justice and democracy with an incomplete practice of freedom and human rights. (3) Correspondingly, we believe that compensating victims of racial injustice and oppression will solve the dilemma of racism and white supremacy embedded in our systems and institutions, and in our practices and habits. These are great moral dilemmas and ethical crises in this country. )

Further, members of the racialized and the economically-marginalized minorities in this country have been suing the American government –Federal, State, and County–since this country’s birth for the lack of practice of our foundational democratic ideals: equality, human rights, justice, peace, freedom, happiness, etc. Evidently, lawsuits that result in monetary justice –as some people have interpreted it–as a way to rectify acts of injustice and the practices of racial oppression should not be construed as total or genuine justice. Justice is a cardinal virtue necessary for any functioning democracy and government.

Unfortunatley, we cannot run a country on democratic ideals only. This conception of democracy is not enough and adequate, and has failed many American citizens for many years. There’s a conceptual and practical distinction between the theoretical ideals embedded in our Constitution and Bills of Rights and the pracrtice and the materialization of such lofty ideals in this nation’s systems and institutions, and moral and ethical values and worldviews.

Democracy is a state of being, an existential act, and a set of practices that influence  every  aspect and department of society, and necessitate other complementary human virtues: love, tolerance,  inclusion,  embrace,  equality,  equity,  justice, etc.  Such practices and interventions would contribute to the common good and human flourishing in society and in the world.  Democracy is  also built on certain moral principles and ethical values to sustain its continual practice and longevity,  and cultural and political force in society and in the world.

Racism is not cheap. White supremacy is costly. They are major threats to our democratic system and tradition.  Both racism and white supremacy are anti-democratic practices that defer the triumph of justice in our midst and governmental systems  and institutions. Human flourishing cannot happen when racism and inequality are visible structures in society and governance. Justice is the very foundation of democracy. Without justice, our democracy will always be short of equality. To monopolize justice and love in all our doings and actions and intellectual practices and political interventions is to place democracy at the centre of human existence and political life.

Finally, as a country, we do have a choice to make things right and to champion the imperative cause of justice and equality and plural democracy in this society; here are some suggestions:

  1. We should prioritize total justice in all our legal transactions and human interactions.
  2. We should practice generous justice in all areas and departments of our plural democracy.
  3. We must reinterpret the concept of democracy as an act and way of life, not just ideals, and the right feeling toward other citizens and human beings.
  4. We must see our plural democracy and justice as concrete human, educational, intellectual, and legal practices and habits that will make us better as a nation.
  5. We should construe human rights as rights that are necessary for our practice of democracy and citizenship. Yet human rights are fundamental and natural rights that all citizens need to flourish in life and to explore their full potential as members of our democracy and members of the human race.
  6. We should reinterpret justice and equality as daily practices that add more value and dignity to our shared humanity; any force that threatens justice and human dignity could lead to the practice of dehumanization and injustice.
  7. We should continue to strive together and collaborate to destroy systems, institutions, and pracrices–judicial, intellectual, economic, cultural, ideological, political, etc.– that create alienation between this country’s racial and ethnic groups, and those that defer our racial healing and progress as human beings created in the image of God, our common Creator.

***Finally, read the report below on “The Cost of Racism” in the American society:

“Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion.

Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It’s not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year.

And not acting to reverse discriminatory practices will continue to exact a cost. Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans.”

Click on the link to finish reading the article :

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/09/23/916022472/cost-of-racism-u-s-economy-lost-16-trillion-because-of-discrimination-bank-says?utm_campaign=npr&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews

“The Bankruptcy of Justice and the Ethics of Life”

“The Bankruptcy of Justice and the Ethics of Life”

Money can’t never replace somebody’s life. Our conception of justice in this country is morally bankrupt and dehumanizing. We have created an ethical vision of life that is substantially cheap and terrifying.

True justice begins with this greatest existential question: what must we do as a community, people, and a nation to humanize and value life itself, for example, the life of the poor and the marginalized, and to ensure that all lives really matter (existential philosophy, theological ethics, sociology)?

True justice should compel us to ask another pivotal question: do I have the right of existence and the right to live in my community as a constituent member of an ethnic/racial/gender/religious group (ethics, gender studies, religion)?

True justice promotes human life at all cost by creating a non-threatening and peaceful atmosphere for the vulnerable and ensures that all members of society, especially the racialized and minoritized individuals and groups, would flourish and explore their full potential as citizens of this country (nationalism) and members of the human family (cosmopolitanism), concurrently.

True justice deals with the structures and systems in society that dehumanize life itself and undermine the worth of people as bearers of the image of God (theological anthropology, politics, government).

True justice is established on the premise that my happiness and freedom are as important as those of my neighbor, and that my future possibilities and potentials are as vital as those who live in a different community or those who belong to a different social class or racial group (political theory, economics, philosophy of race).

Justice as monetary reparation is not fully adequate and holistic. We need a better justice system in this country that is integral in all areas, aspects, and departments of human life and society. Our passion for justice is too weak. We are too easily satisfied with cheap acts of justice, which we believe to be true justice.

***I wrote this piece as a reaction to the new settlement associating with Breonna Taylor’s life and death. Click on the link to learn about it: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/15/us/breonna-taylor-settlement-louisville.html

“The Joseph Family Through Books” (Part 2): Books for the People in the Church (Non-Academic Works)

“The Joseph Family Through Books” (Part 2): Books for the People in the Church (Non-Academic Works)

Since I am a church guy, I published eight non-academic books to be used in ecclesiastical communities, such as in small groups and Bible study settings toward spiritual formation and piety, both on the individual and collective level. Since I love Jesus, I write these books for people who love Jesus and also those who may not like Him; so you have no excuse not to read my books 🙂

The books below are written in three languages: English, Haitian Creole, and French.

  1. American Christianity and the Culture of Death: Conversations and Poems on Racial Trauma, Social Justice, and Hope (2020)
  2. Le catéchisme de la vie nouvelle pour les enfants: 100 questions et réponses pour nous apprendre à vivre paisiblement et relationnellement dans le monde (French Edition) (2019)
  3. The New Life Catechism for Children / Le catéchisme de la vie nouvelle pour les enfants: 100 questions et réponses pour nous apprendre à vivre paisiblement … dans le monde (Bilingual Edition: English and French) ( 2019)
  4. The New Life Catechism for Children/Katechis pou yon Nouvo Vi Pou Ti Moun Yo: 100 Kesyon ak Repons pou anseye nou kijan pou nou viv nan lapè ak bon relasyon nan mond lan (Bilingual Edition: English and Creole) (2019)
  5. Katechis pou yon Nouvo Vi Pou Ti Moun Yo: 100 Kesyon ak Repons pou anseye nou kijan pou nou viv nan lapè ak bon relasyon nan monn lan (Creole Edition) (2019)
  6. The New Life Catechism for Children: 100 Questions & Answers to teach us how to live peacefully and relationally in the world (English Edition) (2019)
  7. God our Maker and Caregiver: Creation, Fall, and His Precepts:: Book (2019)
  8. . God loves Haiti (2015)

“The Joseph Family Through Books” (Part 1): Academic Works

“The Joseph Family Through Books” (Part 1): Academic Works

Here are all the academic (9) titles I’ve published over the course of eight years. I gave birth to four twin babies, that is, four books I’ve co-edited with friends, and authored five personal books. As you can tell, I’m a mother who is always pregnant; I give birth regularly to non-human babies 🙂

  1. Theologizing in Black: On Africana Theological Ethics and Anthropology (Pickwick Publications, 2020)
  2. Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism (Pickwick Publications, 2020)
  3. Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain (Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers 2017)
  4. Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa (Black Diasporic Worlds: Origins and Evolutions from New World Slaving) (Lexington Books, 2018)
  5. Radical Humanism and Generous Tolerance: Soyinka on Religion and Human Solidarity (University Press of America, 2016)
  6. Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Lexington Books, 2016)
  7. Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Lexington Books, 2016)
  8. Haitian Modernity and Liberative Interruptions: Discourse on Race, Religion, and Freedom (University Press of America, 2013)
  9. Approaches to Teaching the Works of Edwidge Danticat (Routledge, 2019)

**** Three of those books have received academic awards.

God and Justice

Justice is an essential attribute of God just like divine characteristics such as love, compassion, foreknowledge, holiness, omnipotence, eternality, aseity, sovereignty. These are not inseparable divine virtues. They’re intertwined and reflect both the content of the Being of God and his actions in the world.

Hence, I’m not sure if it is possible to preach the Gospel authentically and champion the ethics of Jesus in the public sphere without moving by compassion and empathy toward those suffering because of the social injustices of our political system, structural sins, and cultural ideologies.

Followers of Jesus must live and practice the Gospel (“Good news”) they believe in. They must demonstrate its power in the lives of individuals and families. The power of the Gospel is not only transformative power to salvation; the message of the Gospel is also about alleviating human suffering, caring for the needy and brokenhearted, and responding urgently to the pressing needs in our community and city.