Gay men still banned from blood donation

I will admit that this article by Mark Joseph Stern in Slate is clearly biased – though I would hope you could tell that from the headline. That said, I agree with it, so here’s my endorsement.

It’s utterly ridiculous that, despite all medical evidence that it’s utterly ridiculous, the FDA still bans gay men from giving blood, even if they swear they have been celibate for the past year. Take a look at the article. What do you think? Is the FDA acting based upon homophobia and bias and fear? If not, what else could explain the ban, which effectively prevents thousands of men from donating blood in a time when blood is critically needed?


Hope in the future

What do African-American Baltimore students do to help them process the recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island? For some, writing helps to work through their complex emotions. Check out this story by Jeff Guo of the Washington Post to learn more about Writers in Baltimore Schools and these students, and read one of the poems below by Afiya Ervin, 15, of Baltimore City College High School:

I’ve never written about this topic because the silence

Of my pen will never be as strong, never be as deep, never

Be as stifling as the moment of silence from a mother.


I’ve never written about this topic because I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that the next teenage black boy face will be

The face of my brother, I’m afraid I’ll see his instagram selfie with a black and white filter on

The news and I’m afraid of seeing hoodies with his face on them.

I’m afraid of seeing pictures of his dead body on the street for 4.5 hours.


I’ve never written about this topic because I

Know a little black girl like me will never be heard because of

The white patriarchy in my community, in my country.


I’ve never written about this topic, but I’m starting now.

I’m starting to write because one day, hopefully another little

Black girl won’t be scared for her brother, father, or friend. Hopefully

A black male can hope for a future instead of hoping

For the ability to walk down the street.


I’ve finally started writing because hopefully one day the scratches

Of my pen can uplift the mother, uplift the

Country, and uplift our people above the wet, dark backs of our

Ancestors and break the chains we’ve been carrying since we were taken

From our African Empires to work for the stripes and stars that have

Held us down for centuries.


I’ve finally started writing.

In Using My Voice and Social Media Platforms More Effectively (step two)

Wondering how to act when your Facebook feed is full of condemnation for Michael Brown and Eric Garner? First, read this. Second, click on the link to the poem by Danez Smith, and use it as the basis of a prayer for a better world.

As It Ought to Be

Credit: Joshua Sinn, Flickr Credit: Joshua Sinn, Flickr

In Using My Voice and Social Media Platforms More Effectively (step two)

by Perry Janes

*A version of this originally appeared as a post on the author’s Facebook page. It’s reprinted here with permission.

There are people on my newsfeed with posts and memes that read “Michael Brown is dead because of Michael Brown’s actions.” There are others voicing their support of the NYC police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner. There is literally no word in the English language to express the outrage I feel at these sentiments – at seeing them when I log in to my account – or to unpack the levels of racism and hatefulness implied here. Let’s set aside the fact that an armed, white police officer in a community already rife with racial tensions fired six shots into an unarmed teenager – six shots against an unarmed youth –…

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Hope in the Shadows

… excerpted by B. Cox’s sermon by the same name (let me know if you want the link).

There have been many photographs and videos within the last week that depict the longing for
justice for the shooting of Michael Brown. There was one in particular that touched and
challenged me, maybe you saw it too. It is of a 12-year-old African American boy named
Devonte embracing Sergeant Bret Barnum, a veteran police officer who is white, both with tears
streaming down their faces. Moments before the photo was taken, this is what took place:

As the protest was occurring, “[Devonte] trembled holding a Free Hugs sign as he bravely
stood alone in front of the police barricade. … After a while, [Sgt. Barnum] approached him and
extended his hand. Their interaction was uncomfortable at first. … [Then] he asked Devonte
why he was crying. His response about his concerns regarding the level of police brutality
towards young black kids was met [by the police officer] with an unexpected and seemingly
authentic response. , ‘Yes,’ he said and sighed. ‘I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ The officer then
asked if he could have one of his hugs.” And they then embraced.

My prayer is that we won’t miss the potential in this glimmer of hope between Devonte and
Sergeant Barnum, and those that emerge in other places. That we also won ’t allow images like
these to allow us to settle, to come to the conclusion that reconciliation has happened. For we
know that beyond this picture that racism is not over. When Jesus calls us to keep awake, we
cannot stay idle, we cannot call for the arrival of justice without our own participation in its
coming. What this photo serves as is a mirror of our hope and a beginning place to challenge
ourselves into participating into its coming.

…So this Advent, as we settle into the apocalypse of our own time, humanity’s
search for hope continues trudging through racism/ classism/ and other systems of distorted
power, along with our own individual experiences of loss, brokenness, and darkness. When we
hear the words of Jesus telling us to “Keep Awake” and to “Be Ready” for a hope that is to come,
it is possible that we might be fed up with hearing the same story of struggle, and we have
moved on to the instant gratification commercialized Christmas gives us.

Except if we are honest, we know the Christmas fanfare is not enough on its own to give birth to
the hope that we so desperately long for, for the hope that will transform. For out of struggle
comes transformation. This has to be our first stop on this journey of Advent, it only makes