As have many of you, I have been in conversations recently about the various issues of our current social moment. Of course there are many and varied opinions about what can or can't be done, and some of the most recent conversations have been filled with pain, anger and hopelessness.   At this point, I have been working vocationally to address the issues of poverty & racism for nearly 30 years; and when I reflect on where we are now verses where we were 30 years ago, I can not only see progress, I also have HOPE that many of the changes we need to see are likely to be realized over the next 5-10 years.  While I understand the fear, anger and frustration people feel at what appears to be evidence that nothing has changed (I often feel it too...) I still have HOPE.  Why HOPE? For me HOPE is not a Pollyannaish emotion that does not see the reality of the pain and hurt people are experiencing. My HOPE is informed first, by an understanding of the complexity of the issues that con

What is Social Justice Work?

The Story of the River Babies (A Short Parable) One summer in the village, the people in the town gathered for a picnic. As they leisurely shared food and conversation, someone noticed a baby in the river, struggling and crying. The baby was going to drown!  Someone rushed to save the baby. Then, they noticed another screaming baby in the river, and they pulled that baby out. Soon, more babies were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the babies as they came down the river. As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the babies, two of the townspeople started to run away along the shore of the river. "Where are you going?" shouted one of the rescuers. "We need you here to help us save these babies!" "We are going upstream to stop whoever is throwing them in!" Saving the babies is Social Work ...

Behavior or Intent?

Let me help clarify...the intent of the officer can be debated, the behavior cannot .... so the question is why the behavior? The earliest iterations of Policing in America came out of Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, this gave rise to Slave Catchers & “Bounty Hunters” who would make up reasons to be suspicious of Free Black People   (see 12 years a Slave) so they could take them back or sell them to plantation owners to collect a reward. After Emancipation  in 1877 Black Codes and Pig Laws came into being, essentially criminalizing being Black so that they could be arrested based on a little known clause in the 13 th Amendment that legalized slavery as punishment for “criminals” and enslave or re-enslave them as part of state run prison labor ( Peonage ), where the prisoners were often leased back to plantations replacing the slaves who were emancipated. This labor force was also used to build many of the municipal and factory buildings in southern cities through the tur

The Opportunity in the Pandemic

For several years now, I have been saying that we are in the midst of a generational transition, and this emerging generation of believers has an opportunity to be a more authentic expression of the church than any previous generation in America. As they come of age, they have never known a time when the church has had a good reputation. They have watched the builder/boomer church be homophobic, jingoistic, racist and give an enthusiastic endorsement of DJT as President to the even greater detriment of the poor & marginalized, all while asserting Christianity and a love for Jesus.   This emerging generation is ripe for an authentic expression of God's grace, love & mercy. The Opportunity in the Pandemic  And now we have this Covid-19 pandemic, and it has presented an opportunity to demonstrate the grace, love & mercy of God to this generation.  I see this pandemic as an opportunity to teach folks how to share life in ways that demonstrate God's love for thos

Live Simply that others may simply live.

Grace & Peace... Robert Caldwell is the Executive Director of and has been a practitioner and thought leader on the issues of poverty & race for more than 25 years.  Visit 

The Absence of Conflict is not Unity

Conflict is one of those things that can be both g ood and bad .  It can be productive or destructive .  However if there is one thing I know, it's that Unity is  NOT possible  without conflict.   Christians & Conflict Now nobody likes conflict, and most of us will do most anything to avoid it. However I have realized over the years that people who *strongly identify as Christian tend to avoid conflict to the detriment of unity.  We will stuff our feelings and will not say things that probably should be said, often becoming passive-aggressive with people. We often don't ask clarifying questions when someone says something we don't agree with or understand, and form negative assumptions about the person.  We will avoid controversial topics or hard conversations about differences because we do not want to get into an argument and cause conflict.  (* Note: These behaviors are not unique to Christians, but my experience has been that folks who do not identify st

A lesson in Privilege on Old McDonald's Farm

(Image by VectorStock) Every year on Old McDonald's Farm the Cow goes to the Pigs and the Chickens with an idea to do something special for Old Farmer McDonald's Birthday.  And every year she comes to them with the same idea... "Let's make Farmer McDonald Breakfast for his Birthday!" Every year the Pigs and Chickens reluctantly asked "what do you have in mind this year?"   And every year the Cow says  "Bacon & Eggs of course! It's his favorite meal!" Well this year... the Pigs and Chickens say to the Cow "Let's do Dinner for him this year"   Excitedly the Cow says Ok...what do you have in mind?   " A Steak Dinner!" says one of the Pigs.  "He can have a Rib Eye, Porter House, Filet Mignon or even Prime Rib!"  One of the Chickens says  "He likes Milkshakes too, so we can make him a chocolate Milkshake for dessert!"  Hearing this the Cow's countenance changed. She lowered her