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“S.A.M. I AM”
The annual season of “Pride” has come to a close but in place of “afterglow”, which generally follows Pride celebrations, it is the glowing embers of tenuous liberties overcasting the day. This is to say, too many U.S. states are either passing or proposing to pass legislation that wantonly discriminates or abjectly reduce/reverse the civil rights of historically marginalized people. What’s more, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, often a key swing vote, retires in the next 30-days. Yet more, there is barely a stilted outcry against these trends palpably forgetting that to defeat oppressive power and control, resistance may not necessarily be rational. For these reasons, it is time for us, we who claim to love liberty, to stand and become a “S.A.M. I AM”.
“S.A.M.” is an acronym for “Social Action Movement” and the overall “S.A.M. I AM” is a play on a character in a Dr. Seuss book, “Green Eggs and Ham“. Recalling the story, an unnamed character is doggedly pestered by “Sam-I-am” to try a plate of green eggs and ham; the pestering ensues in various locations and among diverse creatures; the unnamed character repeatedly refuses, but ultimately gives into Sam’s pestering, tries the green eggs and ham, of which s/he does like after all and happily responds, “I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-am.” The moral of the story, however, has been criticized for themes of harassment and peer-pressure. Still, it is necessary to become a “S.A.M. I AM”.
To its credit though, despite literary criticism, emulating the kind of pestering and annoyance of Sam-I-am as exhibited in “Green Eggs and Ham” is exactly what once helped to reshape the conscience of America. And while Hitler comparisons and calling people Nazi’s may seem overhyped in today’s conversations, the social and political climate that we find ourselves is eerily comparable. None the less, it is sad to say, what many would have done to stop the injustices and atrocities committed against the innocent during the rise and rule of the Third Reich is exactly what many are doing today – NOTHING! That is why if ever we needed to stir up the best in persistent harassment and pestering, the time is now to be a “S.A.M. I AM”!
To start, “S.A.M. I AM” means more than the passivity of “#social media activism” whose end-goal is usually limited to raising awareness. For as valuable as it is to broaden people’s understanding of the happenings in the world, no tangible change flows from awareness alone. In the online world, social issues and critique frequently become buzzwords or “clickbait” subsequently losing rebellious force; but this is not a call to break from social media as an outlet for exchange. Instead, it is a call for us to think more critically about the what and way information particularly regarding bigotry (i.e., homophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, transgender issues, classism, and ableism) is shared and portrayed to redirect activism towards a direction that remains truer to its cause.
So, if there is no “post Pride afterglow”, get fired up then from the embers of tenuous liberties. These embers served us in the past and they will again. In these embers it is possible to find inspiration from daring actions of the past – i.e., the Montgomery Bus Boycott and/or Stonewall Rebellion to name a few – that sparked movement and ultimately demolished oppressive conditions. Somehow, we’ve got to internalize that“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd” (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of “Don Quixote). Isn’t this perhaps what happened when an ordinary bottle was thrown on a fateful night in the Stonewall Inn and reportedly by the unlikeliest of all people present – a Black, Bisexual, Transgender woman who was a sex-worker (most probably, Marsha P. Johnson) – seemingly a “S.A.M. I AM”.
In Resistance… Reverend Gale Jones, Executive Pastor