Last year, I compiled a list of resources for Jesuit Volunteers on racial equality here. It is interesting to look back on what I referred people to, and the snapshot in my thinking on racial justice at the time. Some things have changed, others have remained the same. I don’t focus so much on bookmarking articles, for one. I’m more interested in taking action with communities.

This year, I compiled a list of resources for Jesuit Volunteers on justice in St. Louis as well. These resources were inspired by a driving tour we did to prepare them for service in St. Louis. We have some woke folks, including people who asked about black-owned business, how to invest in North City without swooping in unwanted, and how to engage in the Movement for Black Lives. We talked about payday lending, food deserts, redlining, private security firms, state surveillance, and police brutality. There is more work and learning to do.

Let me know, what would you add?

Anti-Racist Events:
Sun 10/23 1-5p
Sun 10/30 6-7:30p
Metropolitan Congregations United  
Metropolitan Congregations United is an interdenominational, multi-racial community organization of religious congregations in the St. Louis Metropolitan Region that are working for a common purpose: to create a better life for all residents.

HandsUpUnited is a collective of politically engaged minds building towards the liberation of oppressed Black, Brown and poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy and agriculture.

Organization for Black Struggle

THE ORGANIZATION FOR BLACK STRUGGLE was founded in 1980 by activists, students, union organizers and other community members in order to fill a vacuum left by the assaults on the Black Power Movement.

Latinos en Axion STL

Latinos En Axión STL is a grassroots organization created by and for Latino immigrants. We seek to promote individual transformation while we teach community engagement for social and economic justice.   

Palestine Solidarity Committee 

Saint Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) is a project of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. We began organizing against Israeli Apartheid and the Israeli occupation in 2009 in response to the calls of Palestinian civil society for organized action against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.


CAIR-MO vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.

Our Mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

International Institute

With America’s population now drawn from virtually every corner of the world, our nation must grapple with both the promise and risk of being a global society. In addressing this challenge, the International Institute of St. Louis and other members of the century-old USCRI network serve as valuable resources to national policy makers, local communities, governmental bodies, and human service agencies.

Black/Pro-Black Business:

Progressive Emporium & Education Center



Cafe & bakeshop & art

Diner’s Delight 1504 S Compton Ave, St. Louis, MO 63104

Soul Food, visited by Obama

Cathy’s Kitchen 250 S Florissant Rd, Ferguson, MO 63135 

New Orleans, Mexican, American… based on food from owners’ travels… and it’s all done well. Cathy will take a picture with you if you want. There are desserts in glass jars. 

Blank Space STL

We host concerts, art shows, film screenings, parties, meetings, lectures, classes, discussion groups, game nights, and MOST things that draw people together.

Master Pieza

Pizza, owned by my friend’s husband. So good & crispy!

One Dish Wonders

Started by Ms. Annie Magny, One Dish Wonders is a casserole baking business that offers families home-cooked meals. Check out her catering options as well!


Sarah Kendzior

St. Louis American

Recommended Education

Forward Through Ferguson 

We Live Here

Ferguson and Faith

I was research assistant for this book.

Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion

The Griot Museum of Black History




An Open Letter to Michael Palmer:

Dear Pastor Palmer,

I am a former Nazarene, now attending an Episcopal church in St. Louis, studying at Eden Seminary and WashU for a joint MSW/MDiv degree. Many of my colleagues, friends, and professors are LGBTQ, and it is important to me that the Church is not just inclusive of those who are LGBTQ, but also belonging to those who are LGBTQ.

While I appreciate the sentiments behind your post “A pastor’s apology…” I find that it falls flat– it is disappointing to me, and reminds me of why I find it difficult to attend a Nazarene church.

For several reasons:

1) The rhetoric of forgiveness, while rife with good intentions, is unsatisfactory to those not looking for “understanding.” What LGBTQ people need is not verbal recognition of their humanity, but actions, policies, societies, and cultures that grant their liberation.

2) The apology, by demanding forgiveness and detailing the reasons why fear of LGBTQ folk persists, conveys a victim-blaming tone. I.e. “You have to understand, your existence is confusing, so please forgive me for not understanding.” Guilt and sin are not absolved by LGBTQ folk granting forgiveness. Guilt and sin are addressed and remedied by the Church turning its course, by helping to create a world where diversity in Creation is appreciated fully and honored as sacred.

3) Examine the pronouns: “…you have a place in my church. You have a place at my table. My church welcomes you.” Paradoxically, these pronouns make a seemingly welcoming invitation reinforce the idea that church and table are /not/ for LGBTQ folk, but instead, are granted by heterosexual/cisgendered folk toward LGBTQ folk.

This, to me, goes against the body of Christ metaphor outlined by Paul in 1 Cor 12, which asserts that Jesus movement communities are made up of many types of people in many types of roles, none more important than the other. If anything, greater honor is accorded to the parts with less honor so that greater unity might be achieved and people might live in solidarity with one another (1 Cor 12:24-25).

The LGBTQ agenda, if anything, is one wherein LGBTQ folk can live and thrive, without being killed, without being neglected by the healthcare system, without being denied housing and employment, without suffering from police brutality and assault by fellow civilians, and without chronic stress resulting in chronic health conditions. LGBTQ folk have not become an agenda– they were and are people through and through– it is the oppression of heteronormativity and cisnormativity that has dehumanized them.

So, it is especially important that the table become just that: the table, the common table, the place where Christ is made known. It cannot be “my table.” It must be “our table” or “the table.” The Lord’s Supper is conflated with the Passover meal by gospel writers, suggesting that Jesus’ death at the hands of (Roman) Empire has much to do with liberation from (Egyptian) oppressors. The table, then, must be freeing, and cannot merely reinforce existing oppressive social structures. It is a place where existing hierarchies are turned upside down, as they are in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11:17-34), when the wealthier, well-fed Corinthians are encouraged to eat at home so that there is enough food for those who have fewer resources. The Corinthians are admonished for turning the Lord’s Supper into an ordinary banquet meal where the wealthier and higher status take their place, and those who are poorer and lower status are shamed.

May the Church not make the same mistake with people who are LGBTQ. What would it look like if the Nazarene church did not shame LGBTQ folk, but instead elevated them so that they might preside over the table, /our/ table? So that they might be pillars of the Church, /our/ Church?

I understand that written correspondence is not the best way to dialogue around these issues. Please feel free to email me at karenlynnyang[at] so we might set up a Google hangout or phone conversation.

In Christ,


Michael Palmer

“Little country church” by Tim Wilson

To those in the LGBTQ community,

I suppose I should first offer an introduction. My name is Michael, and I’m a pastor.

Because of my role as a pastor I’ve witnessed, over the past few days, conversations responding to the recent Supreme Court decision that are anything but Christlike (read: Loving and compassionate).

You see, the reality of this situation is my fellow church-folk are struggling with this issue. Compounding this problem, as Christians we’ve often come from a place of legalism, and in many ways, even as I write, we’ve not broken free from this law-first theology. Because of this theological reality, we have almost no practice dealing with something as controversial and emotionally/physiologically complicated as same-sex attraction.

Really, this is bigger than same-sex marriage. The Church has historically done an extremely poor job of dealing with sexuality in general.

And so, it’s from this…

View original post 669 more words

Yes, all of this. Transit is so important. Suburban sprawl makes life harder for those with fewer resources. Taking transit for the last two years has been okay for the most part, but I’ve definitely felt and seen the frustration that happens when one is forced to take transit in a society built for car culture.
Recently, I missed a bus to go to the dentist, walked an hour, only to learn that I couldn’t move my appointment. I sat on the side of the road and cried before walking the hour back home. Every week, I walk for twenty minutes, before taking a 40 minute Metro/bus ride to church, and then do the same thing back. I have the option of calling a friend for help and do not have to support a family, but I see people every day who have kids and jobs and caregiving responsibilities, and must do all of these things with transit. Especially in suburbs like Webster Groves, transit is the worst. Some buses come only once an hour, so if you miss it, you’re screwed. For me, Webster Groves is where I go to school, and not my livelihood. But daily, I see people bus in to work at McDonald’s or Subway here. A commute is hard enough in itself. Imagine taking a commute every day from one’s own neighborhood in the city, to a wealthy neighborhood in the suburbs where you must serve everyone who lives there.
Taking transit convinces me more than ever that the hardest-working people are those who are most marginalized in society, with fewer resources. At the same time, they are some of the most patient, kind people, who look out for people running late on the bus, who help those who are older onto the bus, who listen to how others’ days are going and commiserate over policies that hurt those most vulnerable. It is extremely difficult to believe that people are poor because they are lazy or that people who are rich deserve better healthcare or schooling when one rides public transit every day. It is easy to believe those things when one lives in a suburb. I know, because I grew up in one, where the real estate was worth at least a million dollars each, and I could go weeks without seeing someone who was fighting for survival.

Posted by [LINK]Hank Green:

“Another Reason My Mom is Awesome

A Public Letter from My Mom

This is a letter to my friend, Martha Haynie, who is a Republican, an elected official and proud President of the Planned Parenthood Chapter in Orlando. Marty, you are my heroine.

Dear Marty

I have been thinking a great deal about Planned Parenthood this morning. I keep thinking how different my life would have been without it . I think so many of us have similar stories only we are too embarrassed to admit we had premarital sex. I have always found that amusing since society seems to think it is okay for boys to have as many sexual partners as possible but the same is not true for girls. How can you have one without the other?

Back when I was a junior in college, I fell in love. I was 20 years old and he was a bit older. Maybe 25. He was my first love and he would become my first sexual partner. I thought he was the most amazing man. He had beautiful dark hair and a fabulous moustache. He became my whole world and before I knew it, I really was in love. I would have married him in a minute if he had asked. But neither of us were really ready for that step. But we were ready for sex.

And it was wonderful. I loved it, could not get enough of it. He carefully used a condom but I was still worried about getting pregnant. Being the older man, he decided we should start using the pill. WE? How the heck was I supposed to get the pill? I was pretty sure that I could not go to my doctor at home, he was a friend of my parents andthere was no HIPAA back then. I talked to a couple of friends and they suggested Planned Parenthood.

I will never forget going to Planned Parenthood. It was on the second floor of a medical building. The place was full. I had an image in my head that everyone there wanted an abortion so I thought it would be filled with crying, scared girls. Instead it was filled with women of all ages white and black. Some would learn that day they had cancer, some, like me, would go home with a prescription for birth control and some would find out they were pregnant. It was health care for women.

But that day, I was terrified. What if someone saw me, what if someone cared that I was having sex? In reality, I simply was treated with dignity. I had my pelvic exam and a routine Pap smear. The nurse talked with me about the importance of protection and the doctor gave me a prescription which I filled at the student pharmacy. That was all there was to it. What I did not know that day was how my destiny was determined by that appointment.

. I continued to love him but he did not continue to love me. He broke my heart. Years later I would meet and marry Mike and we would have our sons. I often think about what it would have been like if I had not had kept that appointment. What if I had become pregnant? Would I have had an abortion? What if I had married him and had a baby?

I know I am in a unique situation. I have these famous sons whom I have had the privilege of birthing and raising. I am so disheartened that women of my generation, we hide our stories in secret dark places instead of sharing them. And men in power continue to pretend they know what is best for our society and especially for women I am gray now and no longer need those birth control pills but I sure as hell wrote my Senator this morning to tell him how important Planned Parenthood is. [I just wish I was not writing Senator Tom Tillis –one of the Senate’s most conservative members who continually votes to restrict a women’s right to chose.

What needs to happen is social change. It is time for all women to tell their stories. So I say to every young girl who has loved a Crash Course, a vlogbrother video or read The Fault in Our Stars, imagine a world without John Green and Hank Green. Without Planned Parenthood, that is probably what the world would be because Sydney Goodrich Green, junior at Newcomb College, was deeply in love and was going to have sex.

I was ready to be a mother when I had John and Hank. I have had an amazing life because I had endless opportunities. And one of the most important of those opportunities was the right to choose when and if to have a family.

To share you Planned Parenthood story, go to…/share-your-story