The Truth is, I am Rising

Dr. Shawn Joseph

By Rev. Roderick Belin

NASHVILLE, TN. April 25, 2019 — John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 

20:2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 

20:3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 

20:4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 

20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 

20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 

20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 

20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 

20:9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 

20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 

20:11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 

20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 

20:13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 

20:14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 

20:15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 

20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 

20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 

20:18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. 

Shawn Joseph is the former esteemed Director of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. He has been an educator for more than 20 years and came to Nashville after distinguishing himself in positions in Delaware and Maryland. He is a published author with a terminal degree from The George Washington University. 

Just like you. Your sons and your daughters who prepare themselves and studied and secured positions to make a difference in the lives of people while making a life for themselves. And obstacles are thrown up at every turn. 

The gentleman has a proven track record of insisting on excellence and equity for students. He is African American with Jamaican roots, is a Que, and is a big man who is black as me. Nashville was not ready. He was the first African American to hold the top spot in Nashville and, while celebrated by some, it became clear very early on that Dr. Joseph was not welcomed by others.  

Mrs. Rosetta Miller Perry, Publisher of the Tennessee Tribune has put it this way: “Dr. Shawn Joseph is a super intelligent, accomplished educator. He’s also a Black man who’s unafraid to be assertive and forceful in his presentation and personality. That apparently doesn’t sit well, not only with some white folks, but some Coloreds as well. Unfortunately Dr. Joseph is dealing with the same thing that’s often undermined other Blacks in leadership and power positions in Nashville. That’s collaborators willing to do the work of whites, and be their lapdogs in doing everything they can to make it look like a Black man is incompetent and should be fired.”

 

Jill Speering, School Board Member

In one instance, a race-baiting white woman on the school board told the public if they wanted to come and speak out against Dr. Joseph but were afraid, they should wear masks, harken back to the good old days of the mask wearing KKK. 

He is a man who had the nerve to step out of his place – to be somewhere he was not supposed to be. You know the experience: the looks, the micro/macro aggressions, the covert and overt actions against you when you walk in to a place, position, promise the dominant culture thinks you’re not supposed to or don’t deserve to have access to.  

Just like Alexander McNab on Columbia U and Barnard campuses. What are you doing here? 

How dare you be here? White women’s school on top of it. 

This is a man who quotes Tupac and uses Hip Hop lyrics to convey his points. He came for the children. But now, he and the school district have parted ways and, tellingly, they will he paying out his contract in a lump sum. When the decision was made to end his tenure in Nashville, Dr. Joseph created a new Twitter account which tells us how he thinks about his departure. His new handle is: “@UnchainedJoseph.”

The man has been set free from the oppressive chains of the ignorant, hateful, racist, and complicit Nashvillians who wanted to destroy him. But his twitter handle makes clear to friends and enemies: Dr. Joseph will rise again. 

Phil Williams, News Channel5

Channel 5 news with Phil Williams framed every story to cast him in a negative light. And folks believed it. Just like folks believe the lies Trump tells about no collusion. These folks have no concern for truth. Truth too often gets in the way of what they want. The truth is, we are governed by a corrupt government. And the corruption goes all the way to the top. We are governed by a liar who fabricates and twists the truth until it is unrecognizable. Even redacted, the Mueller report makes it clear that the United States government is overrun with bad actors.  

It reminds me of Jesus in the Hall of judgement when Pilate was interrogating him and asking, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And Jesus said are you asking this on your own or did others tell you this?

Pilot answered, am I a Jew? Your people brought you to me. What have you done? Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world. If it were my service I would fight that I would not have even been delivered into the hands of the Jews.

Pilot said to him, Are you a king? 

Jesus said to him I was born for this reason and came into the world for this purpose to testify to the truth everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.

And Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

That question rings in my head and heart regularly these days: “What is truth?”

With Russian interference in elections and malefactors disseminating misinformation on the most widely read book today: Facebook, it will make you wonder, what is truth? 

But Russian interference is not the only interference we have to deal with that makes truth difficult to recognize:

Amy Frogge, School Board Member

We got white folk interference and black folk interference and stranger interference and friend interference and family interference. 

Even in the church where one would think that truth would be illuminated by clarity, there we find rampant interference by biases, prejudices, druthers, aesthetics, power struggles, and various -isms including the most deadly and truth concealing -isms:  i-ism, me-ism, my-ism.

But, I’m sticking with Jesus: and Jesus said, ye shall know the truth, and the TRUTH shall make you free. 

In the midst of all of the lies and misinformation and evil motives of pride, greed and, shameless self-promotion, I am sticking with Jesus because we need the freedom that can only come from a tenacious commitment to the truth. 

The truth is, we are created in the image of God. 

The truth is we are destined for greatness.

The truth is we serve the one true and living God and there is no searching of God’s

understanding.

The truth is the God we serve has all power in His hands AND 

The truth is that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives within us giving

us power to riser.

The truth is whereas I have been crucified, I am crucified with Christ nevertheless 

live…

The truth is…

There are some people who want you out of the way. They do not want you in their territory or, what they perceive to be their territory. They do not want you in their way. Your presence poses a threat to that which they believe themselves entitled. And so, they work on you. 

They are not ready for you. 

They do not have a framework or a category into which you can fit. 

They want to domesticate you. 

They devalue you. 

They demonize you. 

They use those close to you to undermine you.

They will lie on you and spread rumors about you and fuel the gossip against you. 

They want to chain your feet to the ground. 

You now have got to decide for yourself that no matter what they want, no matter what they do, you are going to rise! 

Our faith is based on the belief that we can rise. We are a Resurrection people. 

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the event that determines our world view. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the lens through which we see the world. Just as the resurrection of Jesus Christ opened up the disciples understanding of Jesus’ words and actions, the resurrection opens our understanding today giving us hope, direction, and power. 

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ lets us know that the worst things are not the last things. When the worst imaginable happens, the resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us that there is still hope. Even death does not win because death is already swallowed up in victory. 

Our earthly task is to be intensely committed to the pursuit of truth, lest you begin to believe the lies told about you. Just like many of you who have been living a few days, I know what it’s like to live in the reality that folks to want to chain you down. They are strategic and they are relentless. 

They count YOU. 

They have counted me out.

They have ignored me.

They have criticized me.

They have sought to undermine me. 

They have hated me. 

They tried to control me.

They want what I had, what I have and 

what I shall have. 

They tried to turn my friends against 

me.

They tried to plant disloyalty in those 

close to me.

They teased out negativity and resent-

ment from those closest to me. 

They betrayed me.

They spoke evil of my good. 

But I am rising.

They belittled and underestimated me 

on one hand.

And they took credit for my work on

the other.

They met in secret and chewed on my

name like fodder.

They tried to put me down and then

use my back as a platform to make

themselves appear higher. 

And take care because If you listen to a lie long enough, you will believe it. Even about yourself. That is what Malcolm X asked in that speech: 

Fran Bush, School Board Member

Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? To such extent you bleach, to get like the white man. Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other?” ~ Malcolm X

The lies that there is something wrong with us. Under a curse less than human,  dehumanizing us. Taking our community. Taking their dogs through our halls of academia and on our hallowed campuses to eliminate their waste. 

If you’re not careful, you believe their lies. 

But the truth is undeniable.

Brilliance cannot be hidden for long. 

When your destiny is written in the stars, no depressed ditch dweller can sully it. 

The enemy is not always without, often they are within, for admittedly, I, unlike Jesus, have sinned… .

I have been so heavily weighted down by the sins of mediocrity and low expectation and complacency and acquiescence to the dumb dim and the despondent 

I have sinned by smudging my brilliance in order for A rhythmical talentless culture vultures to bear to be around me

I have been afraid to be seen, to be noticed, my time had not yet come. 

Didn’t want to stand out but now it’s time 

So fightings without and fears within conspire to take us down.  

And do not be confused, there are some who don’t know who you are, but they are some who know exactly who you are and they are assigned to distract you from your destiny and your purpose. 

What they really are tasked to do is kill you, assassinate your character to render you ineligible for what God has next. But the truth is:  I. Am. Rising. 

And the Bible says…

Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 

20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 

20:13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 

20:14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 

20:15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 

20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 

20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 

20:18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. 

So do not touch me. I haven’t gotten where I’m headed yet and I can’t let you spoil it for me or for the people I’ve got to bless.

If you touch me, I may fall victim to 

sentimentality.

If you touch me, your desires for me

might rub off on me. 

If you touch me, you may contaminate

me with the residue of sorrow and dis-

appointment you still have on you.

If you touch me.

The truth was ignored, rejected, cruci-

fied. 

BUT the truth rise again…

But I am rising again and this time to

new heights.

I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live yet but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by the grace of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

I am rising.

Rising from self-doubt.

Rising from self sabotage.

Rising from incessant self critiques.

Rising from imposter syndrome.

Rising from I’m not good enough.

Rising from I don’t know enough.

Rising from I don’t deserve it.

Rising from bad habits.

Rising from behavior that contradicts

the content of my prayers. 

Rising from lies and deception. 

Rising from other folks expectations. 

Rising from hatred and ill-will

Rising from the effects of racism.

For the live interview see 

www.trendingwiththetribune.net

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