For years Elle Dowd considered herself an advocate for justice, but her well-meaning support always took a back burner to what Martin Luther King Jr. called the tension-free, ordered ""negative peace"" of white moderates. Then Michael Brown, a Black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Uprising changed everything.
In Baptized in Tear Gas, minister and activist Elle Dowd tells the gripping story of her transformation into an Assata Shakur-reading, courthouse-occupying abolitionist with an arrest record, hungry for the revolution. Thanks to deep relationships with people in Ferguson and St. Louis, and to experiencing a fraction of the system for herself--including the fear of rubber bullets, the shock of sound cannons, and running from tear gas--Dowd fully committed to the work of anti-racism and abolition. Now she wants to help other white allies do the same.
Like in baptism, this transformation requires parts of us to die: our lack of power analysis, our commitment to white niceness, our tone policing, our respectability politics--all of those impulses we have been socialized by since birth must die so that something new can be resurrected in our lives and in the world. The uprising in Ferguson changed Dowd, and through it, God made her into something new.
Now it's our turn.
About the Author
Elle Dowd is a bisexual candidate for ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was radicalized in St. Louis, where she learned from the revolutionary, queer, Black leadership during the Ferguson Uprising. She was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #decolonizeLutheranism and currently organizes as a faith leader with SOUL in Chicago, serves on the board of Euro-Descent Lutherans for Racial Justice, writes regularly for the Disrupt Worship Project, and facilitates workshops on gender, sexuality, and the church. She lives in Chicago with her spouse and two Sierra Leonean daughters.
Rev. Traci D. Blackmon is the Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ. Rev. Blackmon's communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson, MO has gained her both national and international recognition and audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican. She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Nixon and to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Obama. Rev. Blackmon co-authored the White Privilege curriculum for the United Church of Christ.