“Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival” with Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.‬‬‬

“Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival” with Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.‬‬‬

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, spoke on race, violence, and human dignity to a full house in Christian Theological Seminary’s (CTS) Shelton Auditorium on March 3rd, 2015. The event, presented by the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at CTS and the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Global Justice, included a screening of the film “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules for Survival,” co-produced with CTS by Indianapolis-based SALT Project, WFYI, and Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Rev. Wright’s presentation was largely centered on the current state of race relations in the United States including the recent events in Ferguson, MO, New York, and throughout the country. He emphasized the need to not rush to the language of healing and reconciliation. Instead he said, “Let us lament the loss of a teenager at the hands of a police office, let us weep at a criminal justice system which is neither blind not just, let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.”

He underscored America’s long-standing history of carrying out race-related violence and indifference for human dignity, which he referred to as “America’s original sin.” He pointed to the treatment of Native Americans from colonial times to today, the forcing of Japanese-Americans into detention camps during World War II, and of the enslavement and lynching of African Americans who continue to be victims of prejudice and violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Rev. Wright prefaced the screening of the film, “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules for Survival” by relaying the warnings his parents gave to him as a young child living in the segregated south. The film’s 10 rules, created to help African American youth safely navigate their way through interactions with law enforcement, were in essence not so different than the warnings of Wright’s parents.

He depicted the current state of racism in America by referencing the book, “The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy” by Lani Guinier. The book likens African Americans to the canary trapped in the mine, tied to a peg of poverty, unable to fly, and used to make the miner’s boss a profit. Then when the canary keels over, rather than addressing the toxic environment that lead to the death of the canary, time and attention is centered on fixing and analyzing the canary.

Instead of blaming the canary, Wright explains we need to fix the systems that are causing the problems, which means fixing the toxic environments. To do this, Wright explains, it will take invasive, disruptive, non-violent displays of civil disobedience, not watered down statements of solidarity.

Watch the full presentation here.

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