Joe Mitchell

Perspective: I'm 'Pro-Freedom'

Jun 3, 2019
Anthony Garand / Unsplash

A week ago today, this nation stopped to honor and remember fallen members of the Armed Forces.  Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for citizens of this country to live free.

The day is commemorated in many different ways. For example, there were parades, wreaths lain at gravesites, and some service persons were honored with medals or citations. In DeKalb the downtown area raised banners honoring those from this community who served in the military.  

Perspective: Changing The Narrative

Apr 29, 2019

Note: Today's Perspective was recorded before this weekend's Poway Synagogue shooting.

In the last couple of months there have been horrific acts of hatred. While not as highly publicized as the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, three historically African-American churches in Louisiana were burned within 10 days. A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with the fires. Since Reconstruction, black churches across the South have been the target of racists, from arsons and bombings to armed assaults.

Perspective: A Woman Making History

Mar 25, 2019
Ulysse Bellier / CC by 2.0

March is nationally recognized as Women’s History Month. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the amazing accomplishments and contributions of women. The church where I pastor has been blessed this month by the preaching of women from DeKalb, St. Louis, Dallas, and Richmond, Va. It’s always refreshing to hear Womanist and Feminist theology through a hermeneutical lens that focuses on equality, justice, and righteousness. 

Last week Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union address. It was the longest such address in almost 20 years. In an 83-minute monologue, Trump talked about the booming economy, low employment, and the historic number of women in the House. Two former drug offenders were highlighted for their excessive prison sentences that a new prison reform bill will address. Yet there was no mention of Jason Van Dyke’s light sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder and sixteen counts aggravated battery with a firearm in the death of Laquan McDonald.

Perspective: Yearning To Breathe Free

Dec 3, 2018

 

Every fourth Thursday of November, this nation celebrates Thanksgiving.  A holiday centered around a peaceful, but fictional, feast of the native Wampanoag tribe and English Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. This make-believe communal meal happened only once, before the Pilgrims began to annihilate the natives. 

Why Make The Children Suffer?

Jun 11, 2018

On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies on the topic of immigration enforcement.

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

A DeKalb group based at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church held an informational meeting outlining its opposition to a DeKalb School Board decision to investigate whether some students live outside district boundaries.  

The Strength Of Knowledge

Apr 30, 2018

I admire the leadership of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the co-founders of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in Oakland, California. The organization was started in 1966 to bring awareness to -- and protect Black people from -- police brutality in their communities.

Huey Newton, who earned his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, studied the gun laws of California and educated other Panthers about how to arm themselves legally to protect their families and friends from the illegal actions of Oakland police.

Flickr User Brent Hoard/ "ECU School of Education Class Room" (cc by 2.0)

A DeKalb-based church is cautioning local residents not to respond to private investigators believed to be working to verify the residency of students.

The DeKalb School District was sued in October for allegedly enrolling around 1,000 students who don’t live in the district.  The school board introduced a private-investigating firm at a previous meeting, but didn’t confirm the investigators would be used to verify residency. 

Joe Mitchell is Senior Pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. He worries use of private investigators may be an attempt at racial profiling.

A Little Bit Of Help Is Good

Mar 26, 2018

As a freshman attending Western Illinois University in 1993, I was introduced to Abraham Maslow -- via textbook, of course -- in my Intro to Sociology class. Mr. Maslow is famous for developing what is commonly referred to as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.”

This well-recognized pyramid outlines humanity’s basic needs for survival. In the middle of this five-layer pyramid is “Love/being.” As humans, we all have a need to be loved and to be a part of a larger unit. Thus, the importance of family and friends.  

Due For Special Recognition

Feb 19, 2018

Nationally since 1976, February has been Black History Month. While it’s commendable to set aside time to celebrate African-Americans’ contributions to this country, every month is Black History Month.

Truth be told, the wealth of this nation was built on the backs of African slaves, so a month is not enough. The celebration of Black History Month is a necessary corrective to the exclusive and misrepresentation of blacks in American history. It also serves as affirmation of a bold and beautiful culture passed down from one generation to the next.

Keeping The Dream Alive

Jan 15, 2018

Today we honor and reflect on the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a young, charismatic leader during the Civil Rights Movement.

The brilliance of his speeches, sermons, letters, and civil engagement was rooted in the prophetic witness of the Black church -- started as a respite from the inhumane conditions of American Chattel Slavery. It was an institution that subscribed to a Christian theology of liberation versus the so-called Christian theology of oppression of the slave owners.

The More Things Change ...

Dec 11, 2017

I was humbled when Dr. Laura Vazquez of Northern Illinois University invited me to work with her on a documentary about the history of racism and exclusion in DeKalb.

My interest in this topic was piqued several years ago when I learned Sycamore was a stop on the Underground Railroad but DeKalb was not.

While it was an unwritten ordinance, DeKalb was a “sundown town” until roughly 50 years ago -- meaning African-Americans should not be in town once the sun goes down. Many African-American NIU students had to live in Sycamore.

Isolated Cases Don't Define Everyone

Nov 6, 2017

There has been a rash of shooting incidents in DeKalb the last few weeks. On Halloween night, a woman was shot in the leg while driving in front of University Village. These acts of senseless violence are disturbing and angering at the same time. Thankfully the injuries are concerned non-life-threatening and the victim should recover.

Because of the proximity of the shootings and ethnicity of some of the perpetrators, it’s become common to blame Section 8 and all African-American residents for these acts of violence on social media.

A Real Protest Of A Real Problem

Oct 2, 2017

For the last 14 months this nation has been involved in a heated dialogue about protesting and the First Amendment. This stems from now ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of games.

From the beginning he, and other NFL players who have joined him have been clear about their actions. This is not about our military, our nation, or our flag. This is about injustice and inequality systematically perpetrated against people of color in this country.

We Have Work To Do ...

Aug 28, 2017

While the terrorist activities of Charlottesville, Va., were over two weeks ago, I’m still wrestling with it emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The brazen and cowardly acts of racism, bigotry, and hatred by White Nationalists caused the death of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, and left DeAndre Harris severely injured. This display of white supremacy was disappointing, but it wasn’t surprising.

The sanitized American history we are taught in school leaves a plethora of important details undiscussed:

Adding Faces At The Table

Jul 24, 2017

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Recently my wife attended a Social Justice camp at NIU as a representative of DeKalb School District 428.  She shared this quote from the camp on Social Media, and it has been resonating in my mind for the last month. While it’s an uncomfortable analogy, the vivid imagery it invokes is quite effective.

A Better Target For Executive Order

Jun 19, 2017

The Sycamore community was rocked last week with a cowardly act of violence. Lidia Juarez was killed at the Illinois Department of Human Services, her workplace, by her estranged husband, Antonio Juarez. This was the first homicide in Sycamore since 2012.

Lidia was a long-time employee of the Department of Human Services and was loved by many in the community as she served the most vulnerable in our society. Later the same day, Antonio Juarez was killed in a shootout with police in Lyon.

Which Way Does Their Compass Point?

May 15, 2017

I’m a self-admitted football addict. I played in high school and college. Now, at the age of 42, I enjoy the game from the comfort of my couch.

Over the past few years I have become disenchanted with the National Football League. It seems like this $14 billion industry’s moral compass is twisted. In the recent draft, several players were drafted with criminal records for assaulting women.

Voting Is Over; Our Job Begins

Apr 5, 2017

Did you do your part in yesterday’s election in DeKalb?

Four citizens ran for mayor, including the incumbent. One city alderman was challenged for his seat. Nine candidates sought three School Board positions, including the School Board President.

The campaign has been very stressful for the candidates. I know. I ran for School Board unsuccessfully four years and learned a lot. Even in defeat, I was extremely glad when it was over.

Women Deserve More Than A Month Of Recognition

Mar 8, 2017

March is Women’s History Month. It’s a great time to honor and respect the contributions of women historically, politically, socially, academically, athletically, and theologically.

In our patriarchal society, women often have been disenfranchised and oppressed. Their voices and ideas subjugated simply because they weren’t men.

Peaceful Protests Work Best

Feb 8, 2017

One of the hallmarks of this country is our right to assemble and protest.

This inalienable right has been woven into the fabric of many movements in American: the Civil Rights movement, The Women’s liberation movement and, more recently, the Black Lives Matter movement. Communities in Chicago marched to end the bloodshed of innocent lives in their streets.

A Mentor Worthy Of Remembering

Jan 11, 2017

The time around the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is always a time of reflection for me.

Through books, movies, videos, letters and interviews, he has been a silent mentor to me. I admire his scholarship, advocacy, leadership, theology and love for humanity.

Reaction To Black Santa Bodes Ill

Dec 14, 2016

In 1992, the Mall of America opened in Minneapolis, Minn. It’s the largest indoor mall in the nation, with more than 520 stores and 40 million visitors annually. The Mall of America generates nearly $2 billion of economic activity for the state of Minnesota every year.

For the first time in its 24-year history, the mall welcomed an African-American Santa Claus this Christmas season. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune had to shut down its online comment section “because the dialogue became so offensive.”

Evangelicals Need To Renew Role

Nov 16, 2016

Last Wednesday morning I awoke like many other Americans to the surprise of Donald Trump as this nation’s 45th President-elect.

After living in a free society for the last 41 years, I never fathomed his message of hatred, sexism, bigotry, and division would be acceptable to lead the free world. While the election of a “reality TV star” with no government or military experience is laughable to other nations, it’s unthinkable to many Americans.

We Need To Get Beyond The Stigma

Oct 19, 2016

On a recent Sunday, I gave a sermon entitled “Created with a Purpose.” I reminded everyone that they were created by the Creator for a positive purpose and ended by sharing some thoughts about depression and suicide. Little did I know what the following days had in store.

Who's Disrespecting Veterans?

Sep 21, 2016

Colin Kaepernick has captured the attention of the nation over the last few weeks.  The 28-year-old backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has decided to peacefully protest during the national anthem before the game by kneeling instead of standing.  

Asked why he was protesting, Kaepernick replied, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color – To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”   

Please Put Aside Your 'Blindness'

Aug 31, 2016

I cringe when I hear people say, “I’m colorblind” or “I don’t see color.”

While I believe this statement is made with a pure heart, it devalues what makes us unique. Recognizing someone as gay, Muslim, a woman, or African-American doesn’t make one homophobic, Islamophobic, sexist, or a racist.

Those “-isms” become reality when used to discriminate or oppress, or when you elevate yourself to a position of supremacy simply because your religion, sex, or race, or sexual orientation is different.

We All Have A Responsibility Here

Jul 20, 2016

My heart has been hurting the last week and a half by the random attacks on police.

This weekend six officers were ambushed and shot, three fatally, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On July 7, at a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas, 14 officers were shot, five fatally.

As a black man, I understand the rage in our communities as people of color are disproportionately killed by law enforcement and justice is rarely found through the judicial system. We have been marching and protesting for justice and equality for over 50 years, and it seems like little has changed.

Diverse Faiths, Common Ground

Jun 29, 2016

On June 12, 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and injured an additional 53 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This was a tragic event and a sad day in American history.

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