My Aching Heart

Rev. Dr. Jimmie Wafer

We are living in a scary reality, which is an exhibition of the foundational racist threads that permeates and supports the fabric of America’s soul. The insatiable thread of racial hate seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the essence of black lives by blatantly murdering a black man on the world-wide screen in broad daylight. And that hateful, murderous, racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and evil thread put a knee of the neck of George Floyd to feed the destructive racist thread that exposes the DNA of white superiority. Since 1619, Black men and women have suffered the rising and ebbing of an American spirit that finds satisfaction in killing those who gave precious blood, sweat, and tears for the development and accumulation of wealth.

Black Lives are valuable, but in this country, Black and brown lives suffer under the influence of small hateful minds who embrace visceral hate for Black lives.

 Our country is susceptible to the viruses of covid-19 and rabid racism, and both cause premature death in vulnerable people. What does it mean for citizens to live as an essential part of a society that consistently violates, hates, marginalizes, and murders them indiscriminately? Here we are protesting and declaring that “enough is enough” after centuries of systemic and structural relationships that offer fear, oppression, destruction, and death for Black folk. After 400 plus years of various forms of slavery, Black and brown people are experiencing degrees of devastating racism, hate, ignorance, and arrogance that the sovereign of the universe probably struggles to comprehend. In front of a church with a bible in hand, a divisive figure stood spouting empty words in search of the authority to demand order that would quiet the cries, moans, and disenchantment of a hurting populous. The protestors are requesting change not found in the sanctity of the second amendment, and the bold threat of military action is old school and not an incentive to get off the streets and behave orderly. Historic America is struggling to maintain a level of injustice that sanctions death by kneeling on the necks of Black and brown people. If America is to survive and prosper,  we must minimize and eradicate those destructive foundational threads of hate that hide in the DNA of the nation and fosters the desires to kill the truth that Black Lives Matter. Collectively, are we willing to witness the destruction of America so that the lie of white superiority might live another day? By faith, the superior power of LOVE is exposing and breaking the racist threads that permeate and support the fabric of America’s soul. My soul cries out that Black Lives Matter because I am Rev. Dr. Jimmie Talas Wafer, a Black citizen of America , but it matters most that the sovereign of the universe knows and loves me as a Black Man of justice, hope, love, joy, and peace! 

Rev. Dr. Jimmie Talas Wafer is Pastor of New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Board member, Ecumenical Theological Seminary and IFLC

 

Michigan Hospitals Offer Free Diabetes Prevention Program Classes to Clergy this Summer

Michigan Hospitals Offer Free Diabetes Prevention Program Classes to Clergy this Summer

Many faith traditions teach that caring for the body and guarding one’s health are one of life’s highest priorities. Despite this commitment, studies have shown that clergy and other faith leaders suffer from poor health and chronic illnesses, including diabetes. 

This is why the IFLC, along with the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and the Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative, are seeking clergy and faith leaders in southeast Michigan to partake in a one year, 22-hour long Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) specially tailored for faith leaders. This special program is at no cost to clergy. To see if you qualify, or to learn more about prediabetes to share with your congregation, contact Lisa Mason at 586-747-7793 or lmason@gdahc.org

“By the selfless nature of their calling, it has always been a challenge for clergy to take care of themselves,” said Rev. Stancy Adams, IFLC president. “But in the age of a Coronavirus pandemic, there is an even greater urgency that faith leaders take steps now to guard the health of their congregants. They can lead by example, making healthy life choices themselves. The DPP for faith leaders is a great resource that has been made available to them this summer.”

Through this outreach, we aim to educate clergy and their congregants on the importance of learning about prediabetes, how to screen for it, and prevent diabetes through participation in DPP. In fact, studies show that participation in DPP reduces the risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

“Everyone knows diabetes is a pretty challenging condition. Historically, our healthcare system has had many answers to treat it,” said Lisa Mason, Vice President of Program Partnerships for GDAHC and member of the IFLC healthcare committee. “But what if we can educate a population to prevent it from ever happening in the first place?  This is a new way our healthcare system is thinking.”

DPP is approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifteen years of research has shown that DPP participants reduce their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

The challenge, though, is getting the word out to at-risk people that they may have prediabetes so they can be tested. According to statistics, 86 million Americans have prediabetes, but eight out of 10 of them do not know they have this diagnosable condition.  Down the road, this could lead to further complications, especially in the age of Coronavirus. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus.

Statistically, Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted African American and Latino communities; this is due at least in part to the unfortunate, lack of access to preventative healthcare as well as underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes, which also has a higher incidence in these populations. 

The DPP workshop for faith leaders is a year-long commitment. The initial 22-hour coursework is completed in 16 weeks. Then, participants come to classes twice a month for the remainder of the year. Classes will be held either through online conferencing, or, when pandemic conditions permit, in person. 

Classes offer tips and ways to be physically active, how to eat healthfully and lose body fat, and how to manage stress. Participants will also receive peer and professional support during the workshop.  

For detailed information on the class and how to sign up, follow the link to view and download the flyer. 

IFLC Reacts to Death of George Floyd

IFLC Reacts to Death of George Floyd

Fourth night of protests against police brutality in Detroit (credit: ClickonDetroit)

It has happened again. Another black man killed by police. George Floyd murdered before our eyes in Minneapolis. It happened as we are enduring the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its devastation on the world’s population. The pandemic itself has revealed the ongoing racism and segregation that restricts health care, education, job opportunities and housing for black, brown, and other people of color. We see both the sharp, deadly brutality inflicted upon people of color by law enforcement officers as well as others and the slow corrosive racism that inflicts another kind of violence. People are angry – especially black people who are justifiably angry.

During this crisis the InterFaith Leadership Council is determined to be Resilient and not turn away from the racist evidence before our eyes.

Four years ago, the InterFaith Leadership Council, together with leading faith and human relations leaders, developed a “Commitment to be Resilient” to combat the rise of religious intolerance and hatred following the 2016 presidential election. All the while since then expressions of hate and incivility have increased in society. The need to promote resilience is even more compelling today, as we recognize that black lives continue to be threatened by violence and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will again join with our partners, other faith and human relations leaders, to be allies, as we address the segregation that is so toxic and to clearly identify the racism that we must combat together.

Please read the reflection below written by of our African American board members, Reverends Stancy Adams and Jimmie Wafer. White folks often do not see how wrenching racism is to the people whom it affects directly. They are heart-wrenching and offer a perspective we all can benefit from. We will also feature the perspectives from other religious traditions within our IFLC family.

 

Commitment to be Resilient

 

I believe

that we are called to lift each other up,

that we are stronger standing together,

that our differences are a blessing,

that empathy and love reveal the path to peace,

and that justice will prevail,

because each of us is Beloved.

Therefore, I commit to

answer intolerance with goodwill,

live by faith and hope, not fear,

seek understanding and friendship whenever I can,

stand with those facing prejudice and injustice,

meet resistance with resiliency as I build the Beloved Community

each day.  

National Sikh Coalition Calls for Justice following Murder of George Floyd

National Sikh Coalition Calls for Justice following Murder of George Floyd

The following is an excerpt from a June 1, 2020 statement released by the New York City-based Sikh Coalition:

In the week since the murder of 46-year old George Floyd and the arrest of Minneapolis police officer  Derek Chauvin, the Sikh Coalition has joined demands for a completely thorough and transparent investigation into the police misconduct involved in the death of Mr. Floyd and signed onto calls for new federal legislation to increase transparency and thwart police abuse. We also echo the anger felt by millions of Americans across the nation.

Systemic anti-Black racism within law enforcement and throughout the United States contributes directly to the deaths of unarmed Black people. This deadly problem has to change and the Sikh community must stand in unequivocal solidarity with Black Americans in our shared struggle to combat bigotry, racism, and hate.

The Black community has led the civil rights movement and paved the path for all minorities in this country, including Sikh Americans. We must continue to support efforts to ensure justice, including ongoing demands for complete transparency and accountability in the murder of George Floyd and countless others who have been killed as a result of police brutality. We must address the anti-Black sentiments within our own community by vocalizing that Black Lives Matter. We must stand and act in solidarity. Here is a guide on how to be an ally.

There are a myriad of exceptional frontline organizations you can support and actions that you can take to specifically demand justice and show solidarity in response to George Floyd’s case. For more information on some of those organizations or direct action initiatives, click here.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

Michigan Roundtable Calls for Justice for African Americans slain by Police Brutality

The following is a June 1, 2020 statement from the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion:

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion mourns the brutal and merciless murders of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and the most recent of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

While the tragic killing connects us to all the Black people who have been murdered since this country was founded, including Eric Garner, Philando Castillo, Shatina Grady, Aiyana Jones, Michael Brown, and Travon Martin, it has happened so often across America that it leaves our stomachs turning in knots removing the myth that we are living in a post-racial society. We are haunted by this ugly reality — We will not accept this ugly reality; we are determined to fight, to transform, this ugly reality. In our efforts to understand what seems to be an unending reality, we acknowledge:
• The murder of George Floyd was first plotted hundreds of years ago beginning with how settlers treated this lands’ Indigenous People and then in the kidnapping of Africans brought here as slaves.
• The plan to murder George Floyd was put in place when we embedded white supremacist beliefs into our institutions, governments, court rulings, and policies.
• George Floyd’s death was made possible by the unchecked racism of an officer and three accomplices, the racism within the Minneapolis Police Department, and the racism dwelling in every dimension of our lives.
• The death of Black Americans at the hands of police is an extension of this racism in the very air we breathe, suffocating life.
• The unique challenge faced by law enforcement as they seek to address the inevitable brutality perpetrated by their officers along with the racism embedded in the recruiting, training, and supervision of officers stamped in practice and procedures.


Mindful of this deep and pervasive racism and inspired by our mission statement to “empower individuals to transform communities and the workplace to overcome racism, discrimination, systemic inequities, and institutional and inherent bias,” we call for:


• Learning about this history of racism and present-day racial inequities;
• Listening to your colleagues and neighbors who are of different racial backgrounds and participating in community and workplace conversations as you become accountable for a change in your thinking and behavior;
• Encouraging your local law enforcement departments to become part of the Detroit Metro ALPACT (Advocates & Leaders for Police and Community Trust), a coalition of law enforcement and community members challenging the very practices attacking the lives of Black and Brown people; Serving as a catalyst for change, we develop, organize, and empower individuals and communities to advance equity and opportunity for all.

  • Ending repressive use of force by police and shifting funding priorities towards social justice restorative practices for community safety; and,
  • Going beyond traditional diversity and inclusion training to transform not only the organizations you are a part of, but also the communities where you work and live so that Black people and other People of Color are seen as equal and treated with the justice they deserve.
  • We end this statement with a quote from Mark Fancher, staff attorney at ACLU of Michigan:
  • The solution will not be found in new policies and training. Ultimately, things will change only when a law enforcement culture deeply rooted in racism and violence changes. Only those in the law enforcement community can make that happen. It will happen only when every cop from the lowest-ranking patrol officers to the highest-ranking administrators become committed to purging from their ranks those who believe dark skin equals probable cause for searches, arrests, and brutality.
  • We continue on the journey to identify, confront, and end systemic racism with you.