Posts Tagged ‘gun violence’

“Their Eyes Were Watching God”

February 10, 2014


While attending PNBC’s Midwinter Session in Orlando, I had the opportunity to visit a church in Eatonville, Florida.  Eatonville is one of the nation’s oldest African American municipalities and the home of famed Harlem renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston.

Hurston brought attention to the historic role that Eatonville played in uplifting African American people in her heralded novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The novel was written during a time a great persecution of African American people including racism, lynching and economic injustice, but the people of Eatonville were able to make it because “their eyes were watching God.”

In much the same way, we live in troubled times, a time of growing inequality and poverty, a time of global warming and disruptive climate patterns – it’s too cold! — and a time when gun violence has skyrocketed out of control and too many of our young people die senseless deaths.  To deal with these and many other pressing issues, we must be like the historic people of Eatonville and fix our eyes on God!

Indeed, David said, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).  This is the purpose for the Progressive National Baptist Convention — to help us fix our eyes and hearts on God.

If we keep our eyes and hearts fixated on God, then we’ll be able like David to say “the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear” (Psalm 27:1) and ultimately we’ll be able to “Wait on the Lord and to be of good courage because indeed he will strengthen our hearts.”

 Peace and Blessings, Kip B. Banks, Sr.


“Too Many Trayvons”

July 20, 2013


Many of us can’t get the story about Trayvon Martin and the recent court verdict on his homicide out of our heads. It is a story about the senseless killing of a young man who was shot dead as he made his way home in the rain, with a bag of skittles and a bottle of ice tea in his hands. What is so painful is that Trayvon was a model teenager who “majored in cheerfulness” and yet because of racial profiling, that didn’t prevent him from being preyed upon.

Adding insult to injury is the derelict way in which the justice system handled the case, ultimately resulting in a verdict which declared that George Zimmerman, Trayvon’s killer, was innocent of committing a crime. However, the real and disturbing message issued in the Trayvon Martin Case is that the lives of young African American boys are worthless in the eyes of our justice system and in the eyes of many in the American public.

The Trayvon verdict has sparked outrage and served as a wake-up call, and the unfortunate reality is that there are too many Trayvons in our nation — too many young men who have been racially profiled and lost their lives senselessly to gun violence. Indeed, even President Obama stated on yesterday that “Trayvon Martin could have been me” and that he has been racially profiled — treated suspiciously because he is a black man (click here for the President’s speech). In addition, the facts about gun violence and young African American men are alarming. In 2008 and 2009, gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens and young black males die from gun violence at a rate 2.5 times higher than Latino males, and eight times higher than white males

While we may not be able to makes sense of the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, we do know that we need to do more to counteract the culture of violence, to advocate against state laws like the “Stand Your Ground Law” in Florida which promote racial profiling and derelict vigilantism, and to spread the love of Jesus. When young students are struck down in the streets while simply walking to school or playing in their yards, or walking home from the convenience store with a bag of Skittles, then we must face the reality that we are living in an environment of domestic terrorism and this is unacceptable!

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Kip Banks, Sr.