Sacred Activism

Sacred Activism is a new category of posts for my interfaith ministry blog. These social ministry issues – their meanings and implications – flow from my inner work of meditation, blessings, prayers and study. My awareness of some of the challenges also come to my attention through my interactions with persons I meet and serve as an urban minister.

I have come to recognize that within my silent times, I frequently experience the visions and voices of the hopeless, lonely, guilty, oppressed, down trodden, poor, ugly.

In many ways, I enjoy the life of a contemplative monk living on the periphery of the Entertainment Capital of the World… a monk in Sin City.

In my silent solitude, I dialogue with my Sacred.

Through my Facebook account, I share daily posts in support of unity, positivity, hope, compassion and forgiveness.

To date, this blog has centered on the themes of my public ministry… an interfaith message that hope = compassion + forgiveness.

Some of my posts will now offer some reflection on moving from contemplation to action… from prayer to sacred activism… from grace to works…from awareness to change.

And so it is…

As always, I welcome your feedback. Namaste!

Black Students In The U.S. Get Criminalized While White Students Get Treatment
The same misbehavior is treated in very different ways.

When black and white kids act up or display troubling behavior at schools, teachers and administrators often address it with differing responses split along racial lines, new research shows.

Black students are more likely to be punished with suspensions, expulsions or referrals to law enforcement, a phenomenon that helps funnel kids into the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, white kids are more likely to be pushed into special education services or receive medical and psychological treatment for their perceived misbehaviors, according to a study released last week in the journal Sociology of Education.

Overall, this pattern often leads to the criminalization of young black students and the medicalization of white students.

The study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University assistant professor of sociology and criminology David Ramey, analyzed the rates of suspensions, expulsions and police referrals at 59,000 schools across the country. He also looked at how many students in these schools were enrolled in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, two programs designed to help kids in need of special services.

Ramey found that schools with larger populations of black students also had higher rates of suspensions, while schools with more white students had a greater number of kids in programs designed for students with special needs.

Ramey offers a few explanations for his findings. For one, to qualify for special services under IDEA, students must be given an official diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional detailing why they need extra help. Schools are given with funds to provide these extra, costly services from the government.

To receive special services under Section 504, however, students must display a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” but don’t need an official diagnosis. Schools don’t receive any funding for Section 504, so they must draw from their own resources to help students. This helps explain why schools with high populations of minority students are less likely to place students into special education services, according to the new research.

In addition, they study says many black families are “skeptical of medical and mental health research” because of the Tuskegee experiment, which involved researchers in the mid-20th century misleading and mistreating black men involved in a study about syphilis.

Disadvantaged schools also tend to have more one-size-fits-all approaches to discipline, leading to high rates of suspensions and expulsions.

“Where the population is more educated, parents make more money, housing values are greater, those districts tend to give a lot of autonomy to their schools,” Ramey told The Huffington Post.

A more insidious hypothesis is that suspending low-achieving students or medicalizing kids with certain disabilities helps schools boost their test scores.

“Some scholars have suggested that both the suspension and medicalization may be responses to standardized testing,” Ramey said. “If you suspend kids while they’re supposed to take the test, they no longer count against the school’s score.”

“Same thing with kids with borderline learning disabilities and putting them on medication,” he continued. “If a kid is borderline and you give them stimulant medication, that’s going to improve his or her test score and improve the school’s scores.”

Sadly, racial bias could also explain why black and white students are punished differently for similar behavior. Ramey explored this phenomenon in earlier research.

“The bulk of my earlier research looked at how, for the same minor levels of misbehaviors — for example, classroom disruptions, talking back — white kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem, while black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn,” Ramey said in a press release.

Sacred Activism

Sacred Activism

How to Give Back from the Heart
By Andrew Harvey

With so many crises facing our planet–from extreme poverty to environmental depletion to our often hurried, disconnected pace of life–the future can seem bleak. And many of us feel discouraged and overwhelmed about our ability to make a difference. The most visible world activists are often “fighting for peace,” an ironic position that doesn’t really reach the roots of our planetary problems.

But one movement, “sacred activism,” an approach in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, engages our compassion so that action comes from love.

Author and teacher Andrew Harvey has written a book about this phenomenon, offering sage wisdom and practical tools for positive personal and planetary transformation.

He suggests trying these ten things to start to align yourself “with the power and hope of sacred activism.”

The following is an excerpt is from The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism (Hay House, 2009) by Andrew Harvey.

The first six invite you into deep, nourishing connection with your spirit; the last four will help you express the compassion and joy this connection awakens in you in action:

Be grateful
Ask yourself: What’s Sacred to Me?
Cultivate forgiveness
Read Sacred words
Pray or ask to align with Love
Develop a spiritual practice
Make a small gesture
Take a baby step for world hunger
Reach into your community
Choose a cause
Extend compassion


Sacred Activism


“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.” -Andrew Harvey