“The impact of this trip was enhanced by being together as Unitarian Universalists. Our faith, our singing, our prayers became a sacred space to hold the heartbreak and the examples of resistance as one. In this way, what we learned and experienced impacted not just our individual perspectives, but our public voice and commitment as faith leaders, as UUs.”
—Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray
In October, we joined a delegation of over 20 UU Clergy and Leaders on a joint trip to the U.S./Mexico border with the UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ), Standing on the Side of Love and BorderLinks. We found the experience to be even more powerful than we expected, as we saw our faith and justice partners in action.
“We went to bear witness. Companioned on both sides of the border by brave and generous people who do this work full-time, we saw first-hand the oppression and suffering that are the direct result of cruel policy. We saw the echoing effects of economic injustice, and understood the impact of our militarized border. We were sobered and also deeply inspired, lifted up by the hope and hard work of our partners in faith. We were transformed, and came home ready to transform the work of our congregations on immigration justice.” —Rev. Victoria Safford
Imagine how powerful it will be for 20 UU high school youth to learn as we did!
UUCSJ is thrilled to announce Activate Southwest Border, a youth training in summer 2015. This is the kind of hands-on experience that will help bring the seven principles to life — and build community and connection with youth from around the country. In this intensive one-week program, participants will hear powerful testimonies from migrants, from undocumented youth who were raised in the U.S., and from the allies working to change current laws. They will walk the desert paths followed by thousands of migrants each year, and help distribute life-saving water and medicine along these routes.
Join the youth training in the Southwest Border through Activate, a UU College of Social Justice program! The dates for this training will be August 1 to 9, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. To learn more and register, check out the page here.
If your youth group would like to send a delegation with us to the border at other times, please visit this page. And contact us at email@example.com with any questions!
Youth will have hands-on experiences like ours meeting with No More Deaths, a ministry of the UU Church of Tucson, who led us on a trek into the desert to a makeshift gravesite honoring the many lives lost crossing the border. We learned of their work creating harm reduction kits to help save lives, and of the station in the desert where they provide water and medical care to those in need.
Youth will be moved, as we were, by Kino Border Initiative, who run a community feeding center and a respite stop for people just returned to the Mexico border. And they will be inspired by local faith leaders, as we were after our meeting with Rev. John Fife, former pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, which began the first Sanctuary Movement.
Such powerful words. These are important opportunities for youth to get involved this summer. Together, let’s help activate the Southwest Border with UU youth!
Kathleen, Jen and the College of Social Justice and Standing of the Side of Love teams
2014 has been an incredible year for Standing on the Side of Love. All across the country, the Love People have worked hard to build the Beloved Community. From January, when we kicked off Thirty Days of Love with a renewed commitment to voting rights, through the spring with lots of actions on immigration reform, to celebrating our fifth anniversary at the UUA General Assembly, it’s been a busy year for love! In July dozens of UU clergy got arrested for immigration reform in front of the White House, then September saw the largest ever People’s Climate March, with hundreds of UUs. Together, we held vigils from Boston to LA following the killing of Michael Brown and the grand jury decision in November, and we are ending the year filled with both frustration and hope. This web-based magazine is a look back at 2014 as an opportunity to honor and celebrate all of the hard work of Love People all over the country.
Before we welcome 2015, we know how important it is to allow time to reflect back on the past year. We put together this end of the year review to honor and celebrate all the hard work of our supporters. Check out www.TogetherontheSideofLove.org to view our year-end review! You can click through each month to take a trip down social justice memory lane.
As you look through these powerful images of your fellow Love People in action, we encourage you to reflect back on the past year, and think ahead to the coming year. What called your heart this year? What restored your soul as we worked together to bring more love into this world?
Together, let’s stand on the side of love and continue to build the Beloved Community in 2015 and beyond!
Jen, Nora and the SSL team
P.S.: How will you stand on the side of love in 2015? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.More >
Etched in my memory on a daily basis these days are the Black men who have been killed over the last several months by people whose task it was to protect and serve them. As a black, queer trans-identified male, who is also aware of the violence too often inflicted upon queer and Trans bodies by people in authority, I carry a fear for my own life that is real. If there is any good news in this, it is that I don’t have to shoulder this reality or my fears alone. I have family and friends who love me and understand the broader issues involved, and I can speak plainly about these things at church.
When the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting was announced, community members of First Parish Cambridge rallied. Along with organizing a group to travel together to a protest of that decision the next evening, plans were set in motion to hold a community conversation after worship that Sunday to talk about how folks were feeling and what we could do. Our Senior Minister, Rev. Fred Small, even changed his sermon to address the harsh realities of racism and white supremacy, and the harm that systems of oppression do to all of us.
When we gathered for the conversation, we didn’t get all of our questions answered. That wasn’t the point. The clear and caring facilitation of two of our members, Karin Lin and Susan Leslie, created a safe space to share what had come up for us. Click here to see our Ferguson Conversation Guide. Every person was also willing to listen and be open. What I have said time and again reigned true that afternoon – we will never understand that which we have not been intentional about making room for.
Perhaps more than anything, this conversation (and others that will follow) was a recognition of who and what we value. We have spent centuries reveling in our ability as a nation to excel in science, writing, math and the like. But we’ve spent very little time, all things considered, learning how to talk about race, racial identity and the very real impact racial disparities have on all of our lives. It helped me feel valued that someone thought it important to reframe the course of my Sunday in the aftermath of devastating news that implicates my place in the wider world. Being valued is something we all want, not regardless of, but because of the various identities that make us who we are. Actually recognizing and celebrating the value of every person in community is work that’s worth doing. So my hope, going forward, is that we can all commit to doing a few things:
• Acknowledge the discomfort. Acknowledging and understanding the ways in which racial disparities play out in our homes, schools, workplaces, and especially our churches is hard. It just is, and remaining silent about it won’t make it any less uncomfortable.
• Listen actively. Most often, we can only see beyond our own lens not by talking, but by listening. Putting ourselves in positions to hear the stories of people who are most deeply impacted by racial disparities will grow our heart and head muscles, and at this moment in our nation’s history, we can’t afford not to listen or grow.
• Understand the significance of #blacklivesmatter. Shifting the focus to #alllivesmatter erases the realities of systemic racism and, in order to deal with that problem, we have to be willing to face it head on. Rev. Daniel S. Schatz’s excellent response to a community member who requested that he take down the “Black Lives Matter” signage posted outside the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is most instructive and really well done.
• Widen the circle. We cannot adequately address these issues within the confines of our own understanding. We have to go out and build relationships that can broaden our viewpoints, whether that’s by offering deeper learning within our own faith communities or by partnering with other communities and organizations who care about these issues. And however we widen the circle, we must do so giving primary voice to people of color in shaping the nature of the conversation and the collaboration.
In a moment like this, I am reminded of a song we often sing on Sunday morning. “Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, ‘Yes,’ to life.” (SLT #6) It is true, you know. We must – all of us – precisely for all the reasons why people like Mike Brown and Eric Garner can’t anymore. And in order to do that with integrity, we are called to step more fully into shifting the tides of racial inequity that have plagued this country for generations. We must help carry this torch, in all of our discomfort and uncertainty and with all our hopefulness and a willingness to be challenged and changed. Don’t wait. If not us, who? If not now, when? I’m tired of my people dying. Aren’t you?
Rev. Mykal Slack
P.S. If you plan to attend the National March against Police Brutality in Washington, DC this weekend click here for more details. And if you and/or your congregation have been already been taking action for racial justice in solidarity with Ferguson click here to share.
Rev. Mykal Slack is the Community Life Coordinator at First Parish Cambridge, the Director of Worship for the Sanctuary Boston and the Founder & Lead Organizer of 4LYFE Ministries, an Associated Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches.More >
Today is International Human Rights Day, and the SSL campaign is excited to partner with No More Deaths, a Ministry of the UU Church of Tucson. No More Deaths is entirely volunteer run, and they have been doing important work helping end death and suffering on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Let’s take action together today to #stoptheshakedown!
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year are dumped at the Mexico border and permanently expelled without their most basic belongings: their money, identification documents, cell phones, important phone numbers, photos and keepsakes. From the border they must find a way to travel to their place of origin in Mexico—with nothing. You can act right now to help stop this travesty.
No More Deaths’ new report Shakedown: How Deportation Robs Immigrants of their Money and Belongings (released today!) exposes the sometimes neglectful, sometimes predatory practices of the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and private prison companies that deprive immigrants of their personal property. President Obama’s executive action will do nothing to change these practices, and could intensify them.
The Border Patrol nowadays sends migrants detained at the border to criminal court, where they can be sentenced to prison for months for “illegal entry.” Then the Border Patrol destroys their belongings, including all their non-US currency, before they are even released. This is not seized property that is being confiscated: these are detained personal effects that are the lawful property of their owners.
Many immigrants of Mexican origin find themselves penniless when they are deported to Mexico, but not because they lack funds. Money they were carrying when detained, money they earned from work while detained, and money sent to them by family members is often not returned to them in cash. Instead, they are sent packing with a domestic US check that cannot be cashed in Mexico or a prepaid debit card that cannot even be activated there. This is theft, pure and simple. Click here to listen to Manuel Jose Hernandez talk about his experience.
People deported to Mexico face serious threats to their safety. So taking away their money and belongings doesn’t just violate their property rights, it also places them at heightened risk. They are not able to buy a bus ticket to leave the volatile border region, not able (without ID) to receive travel money that their family wires to them, or even not able to call their family for help.
We must #StopTheShakedown that is placing so many people at risk. Please join us in taking the following actions:
1. Send a quick fax and email to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. —December 18 is International Migrants Day, a day to honor the rights of migrant workers, including their property rights. Can we send 2,000 messages by December 18?
2. Call Johnson’s office at 202-282-8495 and leave a message: “I am calling to ask Secretary Johnson to make sure that no more people get deported without their money or belongings. This is a violation of people’s rights and puts them in an unnecessarily dangerous situation.” This phone number is an answering machine, so let’s fill it up.
3. Start a conversation in your community or church about this little-known reason to oppose the deportations that continue to ravage our communities. #Not1More!
Hannah Hafter (seen here with Rev. Kathleen McTigue on the SSL/UUCSJ Border Trip, October 2014)
No More Deaths
Contact: Rev. Patrice Curtis, Consulting Program Minister, email@example.com
This Saturday, Dec. 13, a National March against Police Brutality will take place. Be a part of the Unitarian Universalist presence. Beginning at Freedom Plaza and walking to the U.S. Capitol, we will begin gathering at the National Theater at 9:30am (the organizers are asking us to gather at 10:30, but we want to be there early because it will be very crowded; there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants nearby). Members of the Criminal Justice committee of All Souls Church, Unitarian (www.all-souls.org) will meet you there with Standing on the Side of Love signs and banner to mark the location until the March starts at 12pm. To learn more about the march please go to the National Action Network’s page for the march: http://nationalactionnetwork.net/march-police/
Looking for housing?
Those looking for home hospitality or to stay in a B&B members’ home for the march may contact the following:
The Week’s Events
Here are the known current events (be sure to check the All Souls website for update, at www.all-souls.org):
Tuesday, December 9
7pm – Come make signs for the march at All Souls Church (1500 Harvard Street, NW, Washington, DC, www.all-souls.org).
Wednesday, December 10
7:30pm – Refresh your spirit at Vespers, at All Souls Church (www.all-souls.org)
Friday, December 12
5pm – come make signs for the march at All Souls Church (www.all-souls.org).
6 to 8pm – “Vigil for Justice: Lighting the Way” Faith organizations are coming together to use candles to light the entire length of 16th Street from the White House to the DC/MD line in Silver Spring, MD. At 5pm, folks will begin to will line up along every block of 16th Street with lights and signs. At 6pm, faith communities will ring bells. We will wrap up at 8pm. Note that this is not a protest or rally, so we are asked to not stand in streets. Folks are still needed to help extend the line; please reach out and volunteer at any faith group along 16th Street.
Saturday, December 13
7am – The Universalist National Memorial Church (www.unmc.org) will open its doors to demonstration attendees, providing coffee, tea, juice, water and a continental breakfast consisting of fruit, yogurt, granola, bagels and cream cheese. We will have a brief worship, beginning at 8:10am, then leave at 9am to travel by metro to the March, gathering with other UUs. Please RSVP to UNMC on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/unmc-march
9:30am – Look for members of the All Souls Church Criminal Justice Committee under the National Theater marquee. Know that it will be very, very busy, so the hope is that you will be able to spot the sign, then look for yellow signs. The March will start at 12pm.
6pm – All are welcome to join the Washington Ethical Society (www.ethicalsociety.org) for their Winter Festival celebration on Saturday, December 13th. This is our annual celebration, in story, song, and dance, of our core values of Hope, Joy, Love, Giving, and Peace. It is presented in a theater format with lots of opportunity for audience interaction. Please join us!
Sunday, December 14 at 9:30am and 11:15 am
You are most welcome to attend Sunday worship services at All Souls Unitarian Church on 1500 Harvard Street, and stay for Coffee Hour. Please bring your sign from Saturday to display in Pierce Hall.
We know there’s a lot going on this week, but we would love to see as many of you as possible at these actions of witness, remembrance, and advocacy. We are standing on the side of love, and we’d like you all to stand with us. – the Criminal Justice Committee at All Souls Church, UnitarianMore >