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Judges 6:12 #AnaBlacktivism

The #BlackLivesMatter Creed

The Ferguson Declaration: A Black Lives Matter Creed (Long Version)

If you want to sign the Black Lives Matter Creed, please follow this link: Signing the Black Lives Matter Creed.

An Appeal to Christian Congregations and Christians Worldwide

We, the heirs of Black Churches and their traditions, in the Spirit of the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Early Church

1.1 We believe in God Our Creator and the Father, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Source and Fountain of Love (1st John 4: 8) who loves all people from every tribe and nation and who is the same God who appoints seasons of justice and peacemaking (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

1.2 We believe in Jesus of Nazareth – conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary – to be the risen Son of God who Ministered and Healed the Sick, Liberated the Oppressed and suffered under the occupation of the Roman Empire where he was persecuted, brutalized, and executed on Calgary. We celebrate the power of God bringing life into that which we thought was dead, represented by the resurrection of Jesus, giving us victory over sin and death (Colossians 2:14-15).

1.3 We believe in the Holy Spirit, Our Comforter and Guide throughout every dispensation who continues to prepare the World for the Good News that the Church Universal is called to proclaim and embody. The Spirit blows where God wills (John 3:9), breathing life in every generation (Ecclesiastes 7:10), making a better tomorrow possible until Christ’s return.

1.4 We believe Black Lives Matter. Scripture speaks of the infinite worth of ALL of humanity (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6), and the Triune God distinctly created us with intentionality and purpose. God loves us in our DIFFERENCES and reveals that the Body will only find true unity in this midst of seeking the purpose of our divinely composed diversity (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:6). The holy writ portrays a sovereign God as caught up in the scandal of particularity moving through the lives of the powerless from the election of Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrews out of Egypt to their Gentile neighbors in ancient Syria, Ethiopia, Persia, Egypt, and Palestine (Amos 9:7). In each of these circumstances we are able to testify to God affirming our differences and addressing unique plights throughout human history.. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus heard the cry of the Syrophoenician woman and healed her daughter (Mark 7:25-30). By sitting and listening to someone who was a cultural minority and recognizing her unique plight, Christ worked to set her and her daughter free from their captivity. The authors and signatories of The Ferguson Declaration: A Black Lives Matter Creed, express solidarity in word and deed with the movement begotten by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Collors, and Opal Tometi. This solidarity also includes but is not limited to, all other resistance movements such as #SayHerName, #AMillionHoodies, and #JusticeForFlint committed to nonviolent resistance as opposition to racism for the sake of the Common Good.

1.5 We believe the Scriptures reflect God’s Preferential Option of the Poor from Genesis to Revelation (James 1:27, Psalm 68:5, Exodus 22:21, Proverbs 17:5). The Prophets of old taught that God loved and provided for all people, and yet widows, orphans, and migrants found favor with God. God requires justice for the poor and judges each government accordingly (Micah 4:3-4, Daniel 4:25-26). Jesus Christ the Son taught Divine Providence, and before he sent out his disciples, he assured them that God’s loving-kindness reached even the smallest of birds, the sparrow (Matthew 10: 26-31). God’s will is for the lowly of society to receive justice so that all persons in the human community can be made whole.

1.6 We believe in the Sanctity of all of life and that the Church should work with society to look after the general welfare of all persons from womb to tomb (John 10:10). We affirm that humanity was meant to live in liberty rather than chains, and that God has bestowed upon women and men the capacity to choose goodness and love. Worship of the Resurrected Savior should lead us to stride towards freedom and a Culture of Life (Romans 5:17).

Given this commitment to life and humanity’s sacred worth, we are troubled throughout this planet, as our brothers and sisters of African descent continue to live under the weight of oppression:

2.1 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:11-22) We receive the Word through the Apostle Paul that the LORD Jesus was sent to bring peace (Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 2:14) to the nations. Our goal is for a social and spiritual renewal of our cities, our towns, our states, our country, and our planet, and the Gospel stories tell us that such restoration requires a confession of our sins. We reject the false doctrine as though Racial Reconciliation could happen apart from collective Repentance of White Supremacy (Acts 17:30, Luke 19:8-10).

2.2 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” and “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 8:32;John 14:6-7) We reject the false doctrine that love of country means avoiding
telling the Truth about our history. Neighborly love mandates that the Black church speaks truth to power, in love, so that the Church Universal and the World can see where Christ is (Ephesians 4:15): in the lives of the oppressed (Matthew 25).

2.3 “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” and “And when [Jesus] had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Colossians 1:12-4; Luke 4:17-18) We reject the false doctrine that State-sanctioned Wrath is superior to God’s way of Forgiveness and Freedom. Black Churches proclaim the Lordship of Christ, who is the head of the Church Universal as well as all other institutions (Philippians 2:11, 1st Timothy 6:15) We believe that free societies operate in their healthiest states when models the example set by Jesus. Forgiveness, accountability, and restoration should be a community’s priorities when it comes to non-violent offenders of the law. Black Churches call for an end to the War on Drugs, militarized police, the School-to-Prison pipeline, and the closure of the privatized prisons. We support the on-the-ground grassroots efforts of the people of Ferguson as well as #CampaignZero .` Lastly, due to the fact that we value the sacred worth of all persons, and respect those in authority, we must all work together for background checks and gun control to ensure the safety of police officers and civilians alike.

·2.4 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” and “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Isaiah 32:17-18; Romans 14:17). We reject the false doctrine that Peace should be separate from Justice. Christian justice must include economic equality and opportunity for all (Jeremiah 22:13). Just as swords will be turned into plowshares, so must jailhouses be transformed into schoolhouses. Just as no one should be profiled or harassed because of the color of their skin, no one should be discriminated by employers on the basis of race, gender, religion or, creed (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). Human dignity is intrinsic to all human persons and therefore all work is valuable in God’s sight. Education and moral formation are the keys to delivering communities from racial oppression.

2.5 “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) We reject the false doctrine, as though the work of the Nation-State should be confused with the Peaceable Kingdom of God. No government official or arm of the State sits on Heaven’s throne, for only Christ reigns supreme. The Black Church calls on all religious bodies, governments and corporations here and abroad to practice the utmost humility in the quest for a Beloved Community.

Amen.

The authors and signatories of The Ferguson Declaration: A Black Lives Matter Creed declare the revealed truth that God is a God of the Oppressed for the salvation of the entire World. Black Churches and Christians worldwide affirm the statement that #BlackLivesMatter. We invite all who are working peaceably for justice to participate in the Black Lives Matter movement and other likeminded organizations.

For the latest updates on The Ferguson Declaration: A Black Lives Matter Creed, follow us on Twitter at @BLMCreed

#NeverTrump Evangelicals & Trendy Anti-Racism

The year was 2000 A.D., the Year of our Lord, and the very first November I would be eligible to vote for U.S. President and local elections, but most importantly, VOTING FOR PRESIDENT! The 2000 presidential campaign is a memorable for some people because of all of the dangling chads left in Florida and one candidate winning the popular vote while the other candidate “earning” the most votes from the electoral college. For me, the 2000 Presidential election was one of my first theological lessons on race. In Charisma Magazine, there was a survey taken where the results showed a split between White Christians and Black Christians. White Christians were claiming then Texas governor George W. Bush was “God’s man” as they readied up America for a “revival.” Black Christians, according to the survey didn’t really have a notion of “God’s man” but they did prefer to vote for former Vice President Al Gore.

What was wrong? Were these two groups reading different Bibles? What could have been the difference? One disturbing story out of Texas during W’s tenure as governor was his appalling silence about the lynching of James Byrd in 1998. Black communities were the lone group that decried this silence. Bush’s only response was that his administration pushed for the death penalty but is human sacrifice necessary to restore order? Capital punishment did not take away the hatred and racist practices of groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who mobilized during Bush’s predecessors’ three terms to get the Confederate flag on TX license plates. John William King, one of Byrd’s murderers, was in fact, a card-carrying member of a Neo-Confederate White Supremacist gang. A governor failed to listen to the cries of a marginalized people group, the people then continue to suffer. This isn’t a question about whether or not George W. Bush is racist. The question is, what did he do when confronted with the problem of systemic racism, and the victims of racial injustice? Nothing.

Fast forward to 2016. The world is a different place, it has changed, some for the better, and some for the not-so-good. Evangelical Christians in the post-Bush/Cheney era are more cautious with their words, after all of the negative representation from movies like Saved! And Easy A, they care deeply about their image as not seeming too odd. Although he was from a mainline protestant Episcopalian family, Evangelicals accepted George W. Bush as their very own, but as the markets crashed in 2008, discontent and buyer’s remorse was real in White evangelicalism. Who wants to be associated with an unpopular President anyhow? Not only that, but Black Christians and other religious adherents have found newer voices in the fight over white supremacy in places such as the Southern Baptist Convention. A few weeks ago The SBC has denounced the Confederate flag. My high-school self would have done ten back flips. Last week, the Presbyterian Church of America made an apology for racism, both new and old. , repenting for its failure to ‘ lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry.” ‘
Another fascinating development among evangelicals in the field of politics has been the loud and resounding “NO!” of the #NeverTrump movement . Alan Noble of The Atlantic put it this way,

“Suppose you believe the presidential frontrunners are unfit for office — so unfit, in fact, that they are a threat to the moral, political, and social fabric of our nation. For the past three decades, conservative evangelical Christians in America have felt this way about Democratic nominees, particularly because of their stances on abortion and, more recently, religious liberty.”

Donald Trump, you see, on positions such as abortion and traditional marriage is just as bad as a Democratic candidate, and what’s worse, is that Trump is opposed to traditional conservative orthodoxy beliefs such as free market capitalism. Drumpf’s political solutions are authoritarian, and his speeches, tweets, and campaign contain overtly racist ideas. The impetus of the #NeverTrump movement is two-fold: one is many evangelicals principled stands for traditional family values, and the other is the objection to Trump’s shock-jock ways, saying racist and sexist things and then back-tracking on them the next day. It’s not really about Trump’s inexperience or his lack of grasp of any and every issue. Whenever they get a chance, #NeverTrump evangelicals take the opportunity whenever they can to differentiate themselves from Trump’s “authenticity.” It’s a new anti-racism, “Trump’s a Bigot!” “Trump is racist. #NeverTrump.”

Never-Trump Evangelicals are not the only persons joining the fight against racism. Bernie Sanders’ supporters love to remind Black people that Bernie Sanders “walked” with Martin Luther King, Jr. Bernie Sanders is against mass incarceration (who isn’t nowadays?), and that the 50 states locking up thousands of Black and Latinx people is the fault of their favorite scapegoat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yes, you guys, the Clintons were in charge of all 50 state prison systems [ enter sarcasm here]. One BernieBro in a “conversation” this week even had the gall to call me “a Super Predator” as a reminder of something Hillary already apologized for; another BernieBro provided a survey from the Berner circle jerk as “evidence” that Bernie supporters are way less racist than any other voters. That’s exactly why Bernie had all-white volunteer groups recruiting Black voters and held all white rallies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Even white Hillary Clinton supporters see themselves as forces of anti-racism. If Black people and other People of Color vote overwhelmingly for your candidate, you are now the defender of multiculturalism. Place a picture of Barack Obama as your AVI on Twitter, and now you, too, can be a Social Justice Warrior!

Don’t get me wrong. It is good that people are not only recognizing that racism still exists in the U.S., but also that they are getting bold it in calling it out. I want to go back to the basic premise of Noble’s piece for a moment, the idea that Donald Trump, like Democrats past and present are threats to the “moral, political, and social” fabric of our nation in the mind of White evangelicalism. Probably from a majority culture perspective, the U.S.’s social fabric may have been at one point stable and perhaps picturesque, perhaps a time before legalized abortions and the LGBTQIA movement. As a racial realist and a Christian realist informed by history, the nation’s fabric was sewn by enslaved blacks laboring in plantation fields and built on death of children and the destruction of families of African and First Nations descent. No social or religious construction of social cohesion that glosses over histories of oppressions can have any integrity. The failure of a more honest perspective from #NeverTrump Evangelicals is part of the reason why their denunciations of Drumpf ring hollow.

On one hand, conservativism blames “individualism” “the sovereign individual” (right?) for today’s problems and various groups requesting their individual rights, but on the other hand, conservatives address the issue of race and racism as an individual sin. The PCA is repenting for individuals who had racial prejudice; the SBC is protesting the Confederate flag now in the year 2016 because one individual, Dylan Roof murdered nine Black persons in a historic black church. The conservative camp stresses individual, interpersonal acts of addressing racism because racism is more about personal bias because of conservative institutions’ and thinkers’ commitment to rugged individualism.

I’ve made the case elsewhere that White Supremacy is a social disease, it’s an institution that involves practices and systems and is not easily explained as simply individual prejudices. Donald Trump is more than just a demagogue, the rise of Trump is a symptom. Donald Trump simply took advantage of antiBlackness, racial animosity, and xenophobia that was already being pandered to within Conservative institutions. Drumpf is the crazy uncle that conservatives don’t want at the dinner table. Conservatives brought him to the table, now they are upset because they have to be responsible for him.

Like I said in one of the previous paragraphs, conservatives, like any other group, are more concerned with optics. It looks awkward when there are #allwhitepanels discussing race or #allmalepanels discussing gender at evangelical events. Some younger evangelicals may have hope that if conservatives avoid this awful news site, or we keep all the crazy uncles like Donald Trump or a Douglas Wilson away, sprinkle a few token minorities, they can make conservativism more appealing to outsiders. That may be a temporary solution, but it does nothing to solve the real issues of social inequality. Did it ever occur to conservatives that perhaps it’s not extremists that’s the problem, but maybe it’s just the ideology and institutions themselves?

Progressives from the majority culture also seem to have a difficult time understanding how systemic racism works. There’s a local seminary that sees itself as progressive and forward thinking and it even had a chapel service dedicated to Black Lives Matter. However, semester after semester, the school’s population gets more and more culturally homogenous. Green Party Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, who some people have claimed is an anti-racist, “more peaceful” (not pacifist, I mind you) alternative to the Democratic Party, celebrated Brexit while Green parties in the U.K opposed it, she and her followers patted themselves on the back for attending an all white Juneteenth celebration, and now blames “Clintonism” for the rise of Trump. Stein, who markets herself on social media as a “white anti-racist ally” is just really showing her real cards, as someone co-opting the labor of People of Color all the while, in her actual praxis, promoting color-blind racism.

A leading socialist magazine Jacobin, like Stein, continues to promote a narrative of white saviorism, contending that anything but racism is responsible for Brexit and Trump. Forums such as Jacobin have been known downplay the importance of identity politics, preferring to make class as the one marker that counts and thus making them just as susceptible to White Supremacy as their conservative counterparts. For white progressives, socioeconomic status operates as a substitute for the conservative’s “social fabric” or the “natural law” of the land, an all-encompassing concept meant to promote cultural hegemony and a suppression of difference.

My goal for this essay as an intellectual exercise was to push for the idea that anti-racism just isn’t some fad; it’s a long-term labor of love that requires us to act and maybe react on a daily basis. In addition, as one of my friends has suggested, anti-White Supremacist praxis and an ideology can operate within contrasting systems of power, which I would include religious communities, established institutions and publications on the Right and Left, and even institutions of higher learning. Anti-racism efforts are at least three centuries old so the key is to have one eye on the past, and one eye on the present. Ask yourself, “where did the idea that this culture or that culture is inferior to mine own? Where did this cultural norm come from?” If your predominantly White institution is seeking to be more “inclusive,” think of which barriers in that place make it less hospitable to People of Color. Whether you see yourself as radical left or traditionalist right, there is anti-racist work for you to do. As for the fascist threat that is Donald Drumpf , for me, there is one viable #NeverTrump movement left, and it’s #ImWithHer.

#NoLaurelNoArrow & The Quest for A Good Story

My name is Rod Thomas and for four years I was enamored with a T.V. show with only one goal: Tweet Live. Now I can fulfill my friends’ wish, to right Marc Guggenheim’s wrongs. To use the list of grievances comic book nerds have left me, to bring down the Olicity Trolls that are poisoning our fandom. To do this, I must become someone else. I must become something else.

 

GENERAL WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! 

For those who are unfamiliar, the CW’s Arrow is a tv show that was inspired by the stories of DC Comics’ Oliver Queen i.e., Green Arrow (2012-present). When DC Comics and Warner Brothers announced they were going to replace the Superman-related series Smallville (which lasted 10 seasons 2001-2011) with a weekly crime drama centering the Green Arrow, initially I was on the fence.Then, I started to borrow, buy, and read most of the Green Arrow’s important story arcs, like his team-up with Green Lantern (an absolute classic!), Green Arrow: Year One, Longbow Hunters, Hunters’ Moon. After experiencing the awesomeness of Kevin Smith’s directed episode of The Flash, “The Runaway Dinosaur,” I dusted off my Kindle copies of Smith’s Green Arrow run, “Quiver” volumes 1 & 2, and finished them in two sittings. I grew up as a kid admiring Batman on Batman: The Animated Series as well as the Tim Burton film version of Batman played by Michael Keaton. I absolutely infatuated with the idea that an ordinary person, well financed of course, but still without any powers could go toe-to-toe with powerful villains such as Man-Bat, Clayface, Killer Croc, and Red Klaw every week. Superman, Marvel’s X-Men were okay, they had powers and saved the day, but I as a lower-middle class A/B honor roll Black pre-teen, saw myself in Batman. He was always the smartest man in the room.

The one thing missing with Batman as I grew older was that Batman became sort of a Mary Sue, as DC Comics used him as some wish fulfilment for every nerd out there. His story lines were pretty dark, and focused more on just how terrible his opponents were. What if Batman made snarky jokes? What if he wore brighter colors and still had awesome sidekicks too? This is why I became a die hard Green Arrow fan. One example of the DC Comics portraying Oliver Queen as a Social Justice Warrior is in Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow: Year One, of which the CW’s Arrow (which I will address shortly) is supposed to be inspired by.

Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow Year One contains a few empowering images of women of Color. While Oliver is alone and stranded on an island, faced with danger and on the run from China White and her employees, Queen is rescued and depends on Taiana for protection and sustenance. After Oliver Queen joins Taiana’s revolution to overthrow China White and her drug empire, Taiana tells Oliver, “Thank you, we owe you our freedom.” Oliver replies, “You don’t owe me a thing sister. You freed yourselves. I was just along for the ride.” By participating in a freedom movement lead by Women of Color, Ollie gets to experience true liberation: joining the struggle of the marginated. The island changed Oliver Queen as he rejected the narrative of White Saviorism because he was more committed to justice than he was his own White privilege.

The first 2 seasons of CW’s Arrow brought so much joy and excitement. Every Wednesday for work, I would wear green and make sure to change my facebook status proclaiming my impatience for that night’s new episode of Arrow. There were the obvious references to Green Arrow: Year One as well as a unique synthesis of Christopher Nolan’s realistic tone in the Dark Knight Trilogy films with Green Arrow comic book lore. Oliver befriends John Diggle, an Operation Afghan Freedom veteran and Black man who resides in the impoverished part of Starling City, The Glades. As I note in a forthcoming essay on Arrow, Green Arrow and Race for an anthology the CW’s Arrow, the faces of the Glades in the Pilot are people of Color. The Glades is considered the wrong side of town that rich socialites such as Oliver Queen and Tommy Merlyn work purposefully to avoid. The season One episode, “Savior,” Oliver and Diggle discover that wealthy antagonist Malcolm Merlyn’s evil plan had something to do with leveling the Glades. Arrow season one is an allegory for social justice struggles versus gentrification, and season two deals with the aftermath.

These two seasons are not without their problematic moments. During the short stint that Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. Huntress works her way into Oliver’s life, police officers such as Detective Quentin Lance and his daughter lawyer Laurel, racially profile Chinese citizens as suspects in the murders actually committed by Helena. John Diggle, far from being a token black, became an anchor for Oliver, and for Blerds like myself, his success as a character allowed us to participate in Arrow’s stories. Diggle calls out Oliver Queen’s hypocrisy for wanting to be a “White Knight” to save the Glades by starting his new business in the neighborhood. It is Diggle who confronts Oliver about failing to take down Helena because she looks more like “Carly the T-Mobile girl” and less like a person of color like Diggle.

John Diggle is a Jiminy Cricket, Oliver’s budding racial consciousness who has an eye for the margins. Diggle’s role grew during Season two; he teams up with a Black woman of color, Amanda Waller and stops a terrorist by teaming up with the Suicide Squad in the season two episode, “Suicide Squad.” Arrow’s version of Shado, a former medical student from China rather than a Japanese mafia member, was featured in the flashbacks and her and Oliver’s relationship became important to his growth in an archer. Teaming up with Oliver and Slade Wilson (played by Manu Bennett who is Maori) presented the Original Team Arrow as a racially diverse collective with a Woman of Color as the leader. Representation is very important to story-telling. If one fails to have a diversity of cultures and mutuality between the sexes in one’s stories, that person experienced a failure of imagination. Story-telling allows us to transcend cultural limits, especially when it comes to race and gender. Stories grant us entrance into experiencing each other’s differences, and invite us to delight in them as well.

Fast forward through seasons Three and Four, and in May 2016, the CW’s Arrow’s ratings are plummeting week after week. What happened? First of all, there was a change of direction with writers Marc Guggenheim and Wendi Mericle being placed at the helm of Arrow as executive producers. There were rumors of promises of changes in tone, Arrow was gonna be funnier, closer to the Oliver Queen of the comics. Then, season three premiere, and they kill off Sarah Lance/ Black Canary, and the first half of season three is this big “Who Dunnit Mystery” ending with yet another “death”: Oliver’s. Arrow’s direction was considered, “bold” because who dared to kill off the titular character and protagonist midway during the third season of a hit show? No one, obviously. Meanwhile, Felicity Smoak in season 3 received more lines of dialogue, more unbearable scenes of her crying as John Diggle was relegated to being little more than being a prop in the background.

The story arcs for Arrow season 3 stalled; actors such as Willa Holland (Thea Queen/Speedy) and the writers and show runners placed the blame on Warner Brothers and DC Comics announcement of the Suicide Squad movie coming this August. The Suicide Squad was supposed to have a prominent role in season 3 and its finale. The producers were limited by the characters they could use, especially Deadshot and Amanda Waller. The use of the highly anticipated Suicide Squad film and the limits of the writers in my opinion is a sorry excuse. In fact, there is a plethora of superhero and supervillain teams from DC Comics mythology to choose from. A natural choice to be used as a substitute for Taskforce X would be The Rogues, who were featured separately on Arrow’s spinoff, The Flash. The producers were the ones who chose to make Komodo a one-off villain and have a depowered, very uninteresting version of Brick and who lasted in a three episode arc. The Green Arrow stories have the source material to provide a compelling narrative to tell for a 23-episode season. The writers and producers CHOSE not to use them. Marc Guggenheim. Wendy Mericle. You have failed this city!

I purposefully have avoided making the issues of the bad-story telling that Arrow has shown about the “shipper wars.” Marc Guggenheim and company have reduced this debate to simply that, it’s about whoever ships Felicity with Oliver versus whoever ships Oliver and Laurel. This is so far from the truth. Let’s go back to season One, shall we? The shocking death in the season finale, “Sacrifice,” was Oliver’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn. It came as a surprise because commenters noted how Tommy was growing a beard and was becoming a more morally ambiguous character, and probably being set up to replace his father as the Dark Archer. Was Tommy’s death depicted as necessary? No, it was not. It was an act of heroism to save his love interest and best friend, Laurel Lance. In season two, Moira Queen, Oliver’s mother dies at the hands of Deathstroke, and it’s a sacrifice to save Thea. In both instances, could all of the characters move forward without any of the deaths happening? Probably. Tommy perishing leads to Laurel struggling with and overcoming alcoholism while Oliver commits himself to not killing. The events of season four makes Tommy’s sacrificial act all for nothing. Oliver returns to murdering bad guys and thus failing to be a light for Star City. Laurel has a brief stint as Black Canary before she is stabbed to death with arrows by Damien Darkh. Not only is Laurel killed off, but her dying words are nothing but fan service, to appease the Olicity trolls who bully the show’s writers.

There has been a lot of written commentary on why Olicity as a relationship isn’t a healthy portrayal, it is not a display of mutuality but rather an unbalanced hierarchy where Oliver is not only the boss but he is also a lying jerk and Felicity isn’t bothered by it. These problems have been pointed out and I will link to them at the end of this piece. There’s one episode in season four that is entirely fan service for Olicity. Oliver and Felicity pose as a married couple in order to trap the Cupid, and a news broadcast refers to their relationship as “Olicity.” I could literally feel the face palms around the world as that scene happened. Quentin Lance somehow survives being a part of an evil terrorist organization with no consequences. Why? Because Olicity shippers on Tumblr pushed for him to have a relationship with Donna, Felicity’s mom. Centering one romantic couple + killing off a main character from the cast each season is not good story telling. It’s just lazy. Olicity scenes in seasons one and two were fun, they weren’t forced but once Olicity became the whole focus of the show, it went downhill. We see it in the lack of diversity, the silencing of Diggle, the erasure of Arrow’s social justice message from seasons 1 & 2, and in the dismissive attitude of Marc Guggenheim and his response to trends like #NoLaurelNoArrow.

Arrow’s show runners have framed this online debate as “the shipping wars.” I have worked to show that this is simply NOT the case. The #NoLaurelNoArrow online community has passionate fans of the Green Arrow comics, and at one point, CW’s Arrow. #NoLaurelNoArrow is an online protest whereby fans refuse to watch all new episodes of Arrow live and if they do watch, they will wait three days after the eps are made available online to impact ratings. That is called dedication. If you look at the numbers, #NoLaurelNoArrow has had a jolting effect as Arrow has dropped drastically in the ratings, with the showrunners making excuses such as, “oh it’s summer break” or “there was a Cubs’ baseball game on.” They seem to be in denial that there is much dissatisfaction from their targeted viewership. This is more than about killing off Laurel. This is about the disrespectful treatment of Amanda Waller, a top tier Black woman of color character because. #AmandaWallerDeservedBetter. This is about the gross way that Shado was offed from the show, for more of Oliver’s man-pain, because #ShadoDeservedBetter. The #NoLaurelNoArrow movement is MORE than just about Black Canary and Green Arrow being together as a couple, because that’s not the issue. This is about Green Arrow as a story that promotes social justice and inclusion, and Black Canary aiding in that struggle as a mutual partner. Finally, #NoLaurelNoArrow is an attempt to get the show runners’ attention, to save a once beloved primetime show. Though perhaps the best way to save a T.V. show is to pave the way for its cancellation while remembering the good story we once were a part of.

Relevant posts:

The CW’s Black Canary: How Arrow Failed an Actress and a Comic Book Legend– The Arrowverse.com

The Canary Still Criess: Black Canary Voted DC TV’s Best TV Hero– Movie Pilot

Arrow’s Laurel Lance Deserved Much More Than What She Got– The Mary Sue

Arrow: The Disturbing Trend of Fridging Female Characters– Yahoo.

*the featured image is a picture of Green Arrow, a man wearing green with a hat, raising his hand. Entitled “Green Arrow Oliver ‘Ollie’ Queen”. Provided by Creative Commons at Flickr. *