By: Dé Bryant
Editors note: The following piece was delivered at protest outside of Wells Fargo in South Bend, Indiana calling for divestment from a carceral system that targets black and brown people at a very early age and generates profit off of the destruction of black, brown, and indigenous communities.
The statistics are startling. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Worse, that number has grown from 300,000 prisoners in 1972 to 2.3 million in 2016.
That means that one out of every four human beings in the world are locked up here in the land of the free. The US incarcerates at a rate 4 to 7 times higher than other western nations. The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
But the things you should be outraged about don't stop with the statistics. You should connect the dots, from history, back, then moving up to this present moment.
Go back to 1865 when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Supposedly this formally granted freedom to all Americans. You will find out there were exceptions. That loop hole in the Constitution was a clause that said criminals could still be forced to do labor.
By: Joanna Shenk
Note: Sermon preached at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and originally posted at Radical Discipleship.
When my older brother went to college, I remember being taken aback when he said his roommate’s mom was an anarchist. I felt so sorry for his roommate and figured he probably had a terrible childhood. In my mind, being an anarchist meant something related to the anti-christ. It was all one category to me because I thought it was all related to the same word.
Fast forward to seminary, after I had learned to spell better and had a bigger vocabulary, and I realized the words weren’t synonymous… I heard about this website called Jesus Radicals that was coordinated by a couple people on campus at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. I learned that the point of the website was to put Christianity and anarchism in conversation with each other. That seemed curious to me and the people who ran the website seemed cool.
Through conversation and overtime it just started to make sense to me that people in the Anabaptist tradition would be influenced by anarchism. It was also around this time that I realized feminist was not a scary label either. It just made sense to me that every person regardless of gender should be respected as fully-human and that people following Jesus would want to undo systems of power.
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