www.thecommunitypressfla.org / AUGUST 2020 / Volume 6 - No. 8

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The August 2020 Edition Of  The Community Press Is Now Available!
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Hooray! If you requested your mail ballot, you received it the third week of July. Savor the moment as you consider what a wonderfully relaxed feeling it is to have your ballot in hand, with all the time you need to consider your decisions and mark your ballot.

Your ballot came in an approximately 9 ½” x 6” white envelope from Tommy Doyle, Lee County Supervisor of Elections.  Your name and party affiliation are visible in the envelope’s window.  Your August 18 primary ballot is based on your party affiliation (or NPA -no party affiliation) and your address in a Congressional district, a school board district, and City ward number.

Now it is time to work on your ballot.  If you have not attended candidates’ forums or heard any candidates speak about the position for which she/he seeks, try going to the candidates’ Web site and glean as much information as you can about the candidate. Also, go online to LeeCountyDems.org and choose candidates to get more information. You may also try these sites: https://youtu.be/ESAyeGhh1Y  and http://www.artinlee. org/virtualforums/

Be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully for marking your ballot and preparing it for mailing. Especially important is your signature and date on the back of the yellow return mailing envelope. Make sure your signature matches the one on record with the Supervisor of Elections (SOE).  This is usually the same as your signature on your driver’s license.  If you have been ill and your signature has changed, you need to send your updated signature on a voter registration application to the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) so that it is received before your mail ballot is received in the SOE’s office.  Please remember to complete the Voter’s Certificate on the same side of the return envelope. If you include your telephone number and email address the SOE will be able to more easily reach you if there is an issue with your ballot.

While you have until August 18 at 7:00 p.m. for the SOE to receive your mail ballot, please complete the ballot as soon as possible and return it in the convenient envelope provided. An early return of your ballot will ensure time to deal with any signature or other issue that may arise. No postage is necessary!  

Be sure to share your experience with eligible family members and friends so that they too may vote the easy and convenient way: Vote-by-Mail.  Just call 239-533-8683 or go online at www.lee.vote.  Hurry! The deadline to request your Ballot-by-Mail for the August 18 Primary Election is Saturday, August 8, by 5:00 p.m.  That request will get your ballot in hand for the August primary as well as the November 3, 2020 General Election.

Florida citizens need no excuse to request a Ballot-by-Mail.  Many other states do not automatically allow mail ballots. So please use this easy and convenient benefit for citizens of Florida.

Voting by mail in Lee County, Florida is safe and reliable.  If you have doubts, use the Vote-By-Mail Tracker to verify the status of your ballot.  Go online to www.lee.vote and actually track your ballot. You may also request to witness mail ballots being processed.

Especially for African Americans, the right to vote is personally precious and highly esteemed. This constitutional right is even more highly prized because of historical disenfranchisement and current voter suppression efforts. Let’s honor our fore parents and ourselves. Let’s Vote!

Vote Your Voice! By Audrea Anderson, Geraldine Ware  and Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, Esq.

Just as the country is reeling from the growing pandemic of the Coronavirus, America’s original virus, institutional and systemic racism has reared its ugly head. And it has done so in such a way that has pricked the national consciousness and changed the news cycle from conversation dominated by the coronavirus to conversation dominated the virus of racism.

And it’s a conversation we must have.  For the coronavirus infects the body, but the virus of racism infects the soul. The coronavirus shut the country down, but the virus of racism threatens to tear it apart. The coronavirus does not discriminate whom it oppresses, but the virus of racism exclusively oppresses the black and brown.  The coronavirus deemed black and brown workers essential, but the virus of racism reminds them that despite their essential service during the pandemic, they are still expendable. The Coronavirus is a new virus, a novel virus but the virus of racism is embedded in the values, institutions and systems of this country and has been present since its founding.

There is currently no vaccination for the coronavirus, but God’s prescribed vaccination for racism is Justice! Not the justice of the political left nor the justice of the political right.  But justice that is rooted in the nature of God and is a core value of his Word, the Bible.  

Psalm 82:1-4 (MSG)

1 God calls the judges into his courtroom, he puts all the judges in the dock.

2 Enough! You've corrupted justice long enough, you've let the wicked get away with murder.

3 You're here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;

4 Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them."

From the President, to the Senate, to the Congress, to the Governors, to judges, to the lawyers, to the police officers, to the preachers, and teachers, God has called us all into his courtroom! And God has put us all on His docket. You have got to appear, and you have got to give an account for how you are managing justice issues in this country. You have got to appear and you have got to give an account of how your values, legislations, public policies, laws, preaching and teaching impact people’s lives. You have to appear and give an account of whether you “Did justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with God (Micah 6:8).”

God has called the leaders of America, its values, systems and institutions into his court room and has put us on his docket. And God has said “I’ve had enough!” Enough literally means “as much as I can take; as much as I can handle; as much as I can stomach.”  And listen very carefully to what God has had enough of.  He has had enough of the “corruption of justice” and specifically the “wicked getting away with murder.” But the corruption of justice in America is not per se the wicked getting away with murder. The corruption of justice in America is law enforcement officers, who have sworn to protect and serve, getting away with the murder of God’s beautiful black children.  Ahmaud Arbery murdered while jogging (though not by an officer). Breonna Taylor murdered while sleeping in her home.  George Floyd murdered with a police officer’s knee on his neck (I can’t breathe). And most recently Rayshard Brooks murdered while fleeing from the police.  It seems not to matter: jogging, sleeping, in custody, fleeing and unarmed! Yet murdered! Black folks are not the only ones who has had enough.  God has had enough!

My question to my Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters is when will you have enough? My question to compassionate conservatives/Regan Republicans/George W. Bush Republicans is when you will have enough. My question for decent white people who don’t know what to do with their privilege is when will you have enough?  Because God has had enough of the corruption of justice and the wicked getting away with the racist murder of his beautiful black children.

God has had enough, and He would remind you of your Christian and Civic duty. 1) Defend the defenseless. Defend those who can’t defend themselves:  the marginalized, disenfranchised and dehumanized. To defend means “to protect from harm or danger, to resist the attack.” 2) Make sure the underdog has a “fair break.” Please understand, black folks don’t want free, we want fair! The same starting line, the same opportunities, the same protections under the law. It is an indictment against white privilege when fair causes you to feel discriminated against!  3) Stand up for the powerless. You can’t stand up for the powerless if you are always standing on the side of the powerful no matter how corrupt. And 4) Prosecute all those who exploit the oppressed. Take the corruption out of justice and hold the murders accountable, be they the wicked or  be they law enforcement.

But Justice is still corrupt and the wicked still expect to get away with murder, especially the murder of black men, because the corruption and racism is systemic.  And you do not change systems by seeking to change individual hearts. You change systems by changing, laws, policies, values and leadership. The church will continue to miss the mark of redeeming the systems that govern men’s lives as long as we foolishly believe that our only calling is to change men’s hearts. Systemic evil will continue to prevail.

To every clergy and congregation, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, and faith persuasion who wants to do something that results in changing the systems that govern the souls of men, I invite you to join LIFE – Lee Interfaith for Empowerment. We are currently 15 interfaith/interdenominational congregations who have covenanted together to work solely on systemic justice issues that negatively impact citizens of Lee County. It is our aim to channel the anger into systemic change and the protest into changed policy. When the emotion of the moment has passed, we will be measured by what we have managed to change.  Please join us!

The Last Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Was Titled “Where Do We Go From Here?” A Summation by  Lodovic Kimble