Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 29

The War on Drugs and Still We Rise!
Weekly Scripture Lessons:
First Sunday: “…I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
Second Sunday: “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalm 1:6)
Third Sunday: “…but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3)
Fourth Sunday: “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison...” (Hebrews 13:3)
Biblical Reflection:
In 1971, the “War on Drugs” in the United States was declared by President Richard Nixon. This was the backdrop of his
statement, which is in the diary of H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff: “you have to face the fact that the whole problem is
really the Blacks…The key is to devise a system that recognizes this, while not appearing to.”
This “War” has resulted in intergenerational human devastation and trauma. As of today, it has cost over $1 trillion and
resulted in a system of mass incarceration that represents 5 percent of the world’s population and holds 25 percent of the
world’s incarcerated in its jails and prisons. Thirteen percent of the U.S. population is African American but almost 50 percent
of the more than 2 million people in prisons are black. One-third of black men between the ages of 18 and 28 are in prisons,
jails, on parole or waiting for their day in court.
When a criminal justice system and its policies are designed with the intent of disempowering a group of people; when prisons
become privatized for purposes of making profit and satisfying the spirit of greed, not rehabilitation and restorative justice;
when policies fuel and influence other public policies from food security to immigration, surely human rights are violated, and
the will of God is offended.
Yes, the “War on Drugs” was born in evil and has wrought evil. But God! Yes, the “War on Drugs” has devastated many
families, “But Still We Rise!” Yes, the “War on Drugs,” mass incarceration, mass criminalization, and demonization permeate
the epicenter of the Quad-Centennial moment that has marked African-American millennials as the most incarcerated
generation of Blacks in the U.S. But that’s not the whole story.
An African-American president and first family served this nation most ably, with dignity and honor. A movement of resilience
in and around Black Lives Matter has transfigured our country. God’s Hand of Divine Grace and Mercy continues to win over
evil and injustice. In the wake of Afrophobia, God’s will for Reparatory Justice is in the air.
Most Sovereign God, they ask, “How can we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). We answer, “By
continuing to offer up to You, not man, our fervent prayers of lamentation and hope, and our actions toward the dismantling of
systems of injustice, food insecurity, and impoverishment!” O Holy One, hear our prayer.
Reflection Questions:
Week 1: What risks will you take to engage in advocacy and activism to dismantle the intersecting systems, which contribute to
unjust criminal justice policies and practices, hunger and poverty?
Week 2: How do you thoughtfully disengage from the noise of unrighteousness that lures us to accept evil as normal?
Week 3: When you see people who do not see the humanity in “the other,” what will you do?
Week 4: What are you doing to support and affirm the humanity of those imprisoned and those returning to communities as
having “served their time?”
Rev. Dr. Iva Carruthers is general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and vice chair of Bread for the World Board of Directors.
Bread for the World


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